Daylighting and daylight harvesting have become common practices, especially in commercial office spaces. With the longer daylight hours in summer, facility managers are reminded to make the most of natural sunlight instead of relying on electric lighting throughout the day. Daylight harvesting using lighting and shading technologies allows facilities to maximize natural light, increase occupant comfort, and create productive and healthy work environments.
The right balance of daylighting and daylight harvesting strategies have been shown to provide significant health benefits including increased productivity, improved mood, and regulated circadian rhythm. These benefits not only help the quality of the work environment for occupants, but also allow for additional energy savings with less use of artificial lighting.
Legrand Building Control Systems’ Shading Systems team has outlined best practices for facility managers to help them get the most out of their automated shading system:
- Prioritize the best environments: Task-oriented spaces and work areas where glare is significant will see the most substantial benefits from shading and daylight harvesting. Occupant discomfort from heat or glare can be managed through proper energy management strategies and can improve spaces that face a high level of sunlight exposure. To prioritize, start with occupied spaces on higher floors experiencing strong sun exposure.
- Shading and room configuration: Before installation, ensure the control plan is well understood by everyone included in the project. Simply installing shades and a system will not solve the problem. Rather, integrators and facility managers need to understand the specific uses of the space as well as the occupant concerns before the plan can be implemented. Documentation will help individuals understand why the system is programmed the way it is and allow for easier adjustments in the future.
Seek out motors and fabrics that are appropriate to the project. Additionally, darker fabrics do a better job at minimizing glare, while lighter fabrics will fill the room with more light.
- Sustainability: Using natural light instead of electric light also leads to a much lower energy impact. Automated shading systems can be programmed to automatically adjust with the sun, especially during the summer. By lowering the shades during the day, facilities save on energy usage and cooling costs.
It’s important for facility managers to understand their space and their occupant needs before installing any daylight harvesting technologies and energy management strategies. Once the needs are clearly outlined, and a plan is put in place, facility managers and occupants can reap the benefits of natural light and occupant comfort during long hot summer days.