Daylighting Doesn't Have to Cost More

I am writing in response to the article on daylighting—“Daylighting: Energy and Productivity Benefits”—in


Vol. 8, No. 9 (September 1999). Although I am very pleased to see such a commitment of both article space and staff time to this important topic, it was disappointing to see an exclusive focus on high-cost daylighting design approaches—especially noting that it costs more—a discouraging message to send.

The article discusses energy savings in great detail but gives little coverage to low-cost/no-cost approaches that include design elements that reduce connected wattage for lights and downsizing of mechanical systems, and avoid the use of expensive controls and dimming devices. If we are to realize the benefits of daylighting and work toward mainstreaming this design feature, we must also look at low-/no-cost approaches.

Many designers and owners often wrongly assume that daylighting must cost more, which immediately eliminates it from the vast majority of projects. The Daylighting Collaborative has a program that integrates training, design specifications and demonstrations with the purpose of mainstreaming daylighting by promoting a very-low- to no-first-cost approach. This is applicable to all internal-load-dominated buildings that use a chiller system. The goal is to get basic, bullet-proof daylighting design information and design techniques into the hands of every project architect. We want EVERY building to benefit from daylighting—enery savings, improved human performance, and the overarching environmental benefits.

The Daylighting Collaborative is aggressively working with other daylighting programs (all of those mentioned in your article) in order to coordinate our efforts and realize our common goal of integrating daylighting into mainstream construction. Designers and owners have a choice of daylighting design approaches from no first-cost to high first-cost, which may be possible on the high-end facilities and those with extra budgets to pay for the design and technologies—we focus on everyday projects with tight budgets that provide no money for daylighting consultants. There are places for all these approaches, and they are all necessary . . . but please don’t convey the message it HAS to cost more when there are approaches that do not.

While the Daylighting Collaborative is young—about one year old—our training programs and information have been very well received. We are very proud to be filling a niche that will complement existing daylighting programs.

Again, my compliments to your publication. We always try to promote

EBN as the place for the real information on sustainable building topics.

Abby Vogen, Program Director

Daylighting Collaborative

Energy Center of Wisconsin

Editors’ response:

We commend you on your efforts to help get daylighting integrated into more mainstream buildings—including those with very tight budgets. While we agree that simplicity is an admirable goal, we don’t share your confidence that significant savings can be achieved without automated controls. When we asked Gregg Ander, AIA, author of

Daylighting Performance and Design, about this, he said: “We have worked on many hundreds of projects that implement daylighting solutions, and our post-occupancy analysis indicates that controls which are not automated are frequently not used. Unfortunately, building occupants are not as reliable as automatic controls.” —


Published November 1, 1999

(1999, November 1). Daylighting Doesn't Have to Cost More. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/op-ed/daylighting-doesnt-have-cost-more

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