Natural lighting is an important tool in attaining sustainability. The generation of electricity is one of the largest contributors of pollution in the United States, which produces harmful chemicals such as sulfur dioxide, carbon and mercury emissions. Production of electric power can also be linked with other environmental issues such as the impact on water quality, increased production wastes, and increased industrial zones. Therefore, reduction in the use of artificial lighting is vital. Here are a few strategies you can use, along with the benefits of embracing natural lighting.

Natural Lighting Strategies:

1. Window orientation to maximize the benefits of day-lighting. This strategy aims at utilizing sunlight through the size and location of windows. Day-lighting refers to capturing diffused light without compromising comfort and function. This strategy should also enhance the quality of light, depending on the nature of the room involved.

Some of the trade offs in using day-lighting are reduced insulation value and good views. But these discomforts can be reduced by using roof overhangs and by avoiding locating windows on the east and west side of the structure.

2.  Use of clerestories. This strategy has been long used in Egyptian architecture. A clerestory is a part of the roof where a windowed section is provided. This ancient natural lighting strategy is suitable for open plan homes where the ceiling follows the roof line.

3. Consider skylights. Though this natural lighting strategy is viewed as a potential source for excessive heat gain, as well as heat loss in the winter, proper installation can reduce these discomforts and enhance its main benefits. Using translucent glazing can potentially reduce glare and double glazing should be used at a minimum. A ceiling diffuser placed at the bottom of the skylight shaft can also help to improve even distribution of light.

Tubular skylights are a type of skylight that aid in providing natural lighting on areas where windows are not possible because of the elevation or the room’s layout. Tubular skylights use a roof-mounted light collectors that can reflect light into a metal or plastic tube, which then guides the diffused sunlight into the interior space.  These are suitable for windowless basements and even basements in one story homes.

4.  Opt for retractable awnings. This strategy solves the concern with controlling the intensity of natural lighting. Retractable awnings are far superior to other light diffusing strategies in windows such as tinting, blinds and fixed awnings. It provides reduction of heat gain during warm seasons, and insulation during winter.

5.  Light shelves and louvered window coverings. The focus here is bouncing out light from direct light sources, thereby reducing intensity of the light, while distributing the light to areas where it may otherwise be unable to reach.

Compelling Benefits:

1.  Reduced energy consumption. The lessened dependency on artificial lighting can help reduce the use of electricity by as much as 10%.

2.  Reduction of mildew or mold built-up. Most diseases, especially chronic respiratory problems are often associated with bacterial and fungal built up in damp areas such as basements and bathrooms. Natural lighting can naturally lessen the production of harmful organisms and sunlight is considered to be one of the best natural disinfectants.

3.  Healthy dose of vitamin D. Ample amount of sunlight can prevent vitamin D and B1 deficiency that may cause diseases such as rickets and beriberi.

4.  Improved performance due to change in working environment. Many case studies have been conducted that show a significant improved performance on employees where natural lighting have been encouraged in their work environment.

5.  Increased visual appeal in interiors. Natural illumination is still the best type of lighting system used in interior design and can be a challenging, yet rewarding task to successfully incorporate it into a structure or building.

All in all, natural lighting offers an array of long-term benefits that affect the overall health of our living world.

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