National Lighting Bureau panel discusses benefits of natural lighting in building design

Shedding light on natural illumination, three industry experts at the National Lighting Bureau's (NLB) annual Lighting Forum recently discussed the benefits of streaming natural daylight into building interiors.

The roundtable comprised Sara Lappano of SmithGroupJJR; Brent Protzman of Lutron Electronics, and Seth Warren Rose of the Eneref Institute, a posting on the National Electrical Manufacturers Association website said.

Maintaining that natural lighting enhances workplace productivity and comfort, the panel members supported industry findings with additional anecdotal evidence. Rose, for example, recalled that of five Berkeley, California, libraries, the least-favorably illuminated facility experienced the lowest user rate until the building’s renovation that incorporated natural lighting catapulted its status into the city’s most popular library, the posting said.

Lappano said that daylighting design is more complex than just flipping a switch – necessitating a team of architects, lighting designers and electrical and mechanical engineers – while Protzman emphasized the importance of an organized planning approach at a project’s onset.

Also significant is the fact that the volume or amount of natural daylighting hits a natural ceiling when it comes to its benefits – that is, too much daylight can actually be detrimental. Lappano said that newer construction favors “slimmer” building design, granting more interior spaces access to outdoor light. Protzman added that despite higher per-square-foot building costs for such architecture, the benefits compensate for the added expense.

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