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Daylighting helps schools do more than save energy
Michael H. Nicklas, one of the owners of Innovative Design, said that the schools his company builds have the highest attendance in their counties, and absenteeism is about half of what it is in other schools.
Nicklas gave a presentation May 3 on Keys to Good School Daylighting during the American Institute for Architects 2007 National Convention and Design Exposition May 3-5 in San Antonio.
The key is the control of the quality of light, Nicklas said. It not only leads to saving energy but also aids in the health, safety and comfort of the occupants. He discussed the importance of the directional facing of a building as well as shading strategies.
“If they shut the shades and turn on the lights, they’ll be using more energy,” he said. “If they have the shades down all the time, why put windows in at all? Architects put windows in for aesthetic purposes and for the rhythm or pattern of the building. We make silly decisions on glass placing all the time.”
Human factors should be considered during the design, Nicklas said.
“Daylighting must be superior to conditions normally experienced at least two-thirds of the time,” he said. “You need to eliminate direct heat radiation from entering critical spaces. Consider the need to darken spaces. Only use shades if entire space needs to be darkened. Don’t count on low-view glass. Count on high glass. Concentrate on the most utilized spaces where daylighting can provide the most benefits.”
The use of glass and daylighting calms and stimulates by changing light levels and supplying a connection with the outside, Nicklas said.
Consider the unique conditions with each project: space, location, use patterns, function, cost of energy, depth and height of ceiling cavity, and orientation, Nicklas said.
Daylighting also proved cost effective in buildings other than schools. “Daylit stores have 40 percent greater sales,” Nicklas said.
Taylor C. Walker from the Energy Center of Wisconsin in Madison, spoke May 4 on High Performance Envelope Design.
Buildings use one-third of energy in the United States and 70 percent of the electricity, Walker said.
“Historically, 80 percent of cost for building was in the envelope,” he said. “Currently, it can be as low as 20 percent with 35 percent for mechanical systems. You need to put money where you get the best effect for the long term.”
Window design and the choice of glass must serve multiple purposes, Walker said. “I think the windows are the most important part of the skin of a building and the most expensive,” he said. “Windows contribute to the most amount of heat gain or loss.
Windows connect us to the outdoors, to light, to views, to ourselves as far as circadian rhythms. It’s not just about the glass,” Walker said.
Climate, building type, type of activities and occupancies, and orientation must be considered during the design process, Walker said.
“Aesthetics often drive glass decisions. We need to quantify the performance of the glass," he said. The purpose of daylighting is not energy reduction, however, energy savings almost always result, he said.
Also at the show
Three women took the stage May 3 to present Triple Bottom Line Choices for Equity, Environment and Economy.
Marilyn Miller Farmer, principal, Habitat Studio Architecture & Planning, San Luis Obispo, Calif., opened with the links between society, the environment and the economy. Katrina Rosa, sustainable design project manager, HDR Architecture Inc., Pasadena, Calif., spoke about the issues facing as building professionals.
Jennifer Brennan, associate, Habitat Studio Architecture & Planning, finished with tools to use to make decisions.
The world’s population continues to rise and life expectancy is twice that of the 19th century. Thus, the number of homes and buildings is also increasing as well as energy needs.
Richard Master, manager of architectural systems for USG Corp., Chicago, discussed Architecture and Lifecycle Assessment May 3. Master said 7 percent to 10 percent of the energy used over the life of a typical building is embodied energy and 90 percent in the operation. He suggested reducing the operational energy by design. Since the highest amount of energy used in an office building is lighting, daylighting and the use of glass can make a difference.
-- Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine