The Future is Bright for Better Buildings

19 July 2017 Kingspan Group

Sometimes it’s the simple things that can brighten up your day. Bringing daylight into buildings can significantly improve health and wellbeing as well as increasing productivity.

Our brains function and respond to the stimulus of daylight; it helps regulate the body’s rhythms, boost the effectiveness of vitamin D and helps the efficient development of serotonin and melatonin to positively affect our mental and physical health as well as contributing to a sense of happiness and wellbeing. It’s clear that daylight is fundamental for people to function well.

Translating this fundamental need for natural daylight into what it means for schools, hospitals, places of work, and recreational spaces there are some fascinating facts emerging. Office workers with windows and natural light had on average 46 minutes more sleep per night than those who did not; workplaces with good daylight had a 30-40% gain in productivity and sales; view quality and daylight explained a 6.5% variation in sick leave, while creativity in another study rose by 15% in spaces with natural elements such as greenery and sunlight.
It is not just office and factory workers who are better off in environments with good availability of natural daylight; it accelerates recovery in hospitals; attendance, concentration and performance levels improve in schools; and it’s no accident that shopping centres and department stores are designing spaces with central roof lights and open, well-lit areas.
The environmental impact of harnessing natural daylight is immediately clear. For a start, there’s the lower demand for electric lighting and saving on heating costs with reduced CO2 emissions as a result. It doesn’t just come down to more windows; improvements in daylight materials and optical technologies mean that roof areas are even more effective at allowing light to flood into and illuminate a space. Furthermore for building owners looking to maximise Solar PV, the higher performance rooflights can be used in lower ratios, thereby increasing the available roof space.
Workplaces with good daylight have up to 40% gain in productivity and sales, view quality and daylight explained a 6.5% variation in sick leave, while creativity in another study rose by 15% in spaces with natural elements such as greenery and sunlight.
Some smart thinkers are going one step further and looking to holistically design a buildings lighting system by combining the benefits of daylight with smart LED lighting for a fully integrated solution that enhances comfort with reduced building energy costs
Dr. Miguel Paya-Marin Ph.D., UK BREEAM AP and ACIAT member is Head of Sustainability Innovation Management at Kingspan Insulated Panels. He has been instrumental in Kingspan’s innovative work on, and application of new generation roof light products. One of the latest, Zer0 Energy Lighting, is an intelligent system suitable for use in buildings of all kinds that combines roof lights, LED lighting with smart controls and photovoltaic technology in one single package.
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Miguel said: “Kingspan’s pursuit of 100% Net Zero Energy for our own facilities by 2020 has driven substantial investment into innovation, which helps us to continually bring exciting new solutions to our customers too. The whole area of lighting and solar capture is hugely important. I believe Zer0 Energy Lighting is the most cost-effective lighting solution available to businesses today, taking into account capital and lifetime costs, while also improving the wellbeing, safety and productivity of a building’s occupants and improving environmental performance.”

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