Daylighting is the most economical and environmentally responsible lighting technique available today.
Saves money on energy bills
Connects people to the outdoors
Makes a statement—that you care about the environment
It’s successful – People thrive in naturally lit environments. Shoppers linger longer and buy more. Students do better on tests. Office workers are absent less often. And that’s not all. Daylighting also:
Slashes lighting and cooling costs
Pays for itself through smaller, less expensive cooling systems—when it costs anything extra at all
Doesn’t cause glare or heat buildup
It’s natural – Daylighting taps into the five-billion-year-old fusion reactor called the sun. Using sunlight costs nothing to the environment but pays big dividends to building occupants. The result is a compelling, efficient lighting solution that also protects the environment. By consuming less energy, daylit buildings reduce fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions associated with global warming and climate change.
It’s hip – Daylit buildings are just plain more cool—more environmentally, technologically, and anthropologically aware than traditionally lit buildings. Daylit buildings make a statement about their owners: That they know their building science and put it to the best possible use by investing in buildings that use less energy, are more comfortable, and protect our environment.
Daylighting uses natural light to illuminate buildings. Rather than relying on banks of fluorescent lights, daylighting brings indirect sunlight deep into a building, connecting people to the rhythms of nature while providing pleasing illumination at a fraction of the cost of even the most efficient electric lights.
Although many daylighting techniques exist, the most successful is known as “cool” daylighting. Cool daylighting reduces the need for electric lighting and space cooling.
Cool daylighting design actually takes three factors into account: light, heat, and glare. Most windowed buildings let in too much light, creating excessive heat and glare. Not cool daylit buildings. Cool daylighting design carefully controls light entering the building, using several key techniques:
- Exterior shading prevents direct sunlight from entering the building.
- Carefully placed windows let in light high, where it illuminates the ceiling (simulating our experience of the sky) and shines deep into a building’s interior.
- Low-transmittance glass prevents glare from interfering with computer-based tasks.
- Window blindsoffer extra shading when the sun is low in the sky or total darkness is needed.
- Paint and fabric colorsare carefully chosen to maximize reflected light and minimize potential glare.
Who’s Doing Daylighting?
The Daylighting Collaborative was created in 1995 by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, which recognized the potential benefits to Wisconsin if commercial buildings tapped into our most economical, environmentally benign energy source—the sun.
Bringing together utilities, product manufacturers, state government, and national energy efficiency organizations, the goal of the Collaborative is to promote the use of cool daylighting concepts in every building project. The Collaborative provides education and training to design and construction professionals, information for building owners and the general public, and a variety of onsite demonstrations. Learn more about the Daylighting Collaborative.
Recently the Daylighting Collaborative has expanded beyond its Wisconsin home to include a major initiative in New York. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) runs an independent daylighting program modeled on Wisconsin’s. The NYSERDA program focuses on bringing cool daylighting to schools. Here in Wisconsin, the statewide Focus on Energy program has adopted daylighting as one of its cornerstone programs, bringing efficient lighting techniques to every corner of Wisconsin. Learn more about these daylighting initiatives on our Programs page.