Glazing 1,920 views Jul 22, 2017
The invisible benefits of natural light

Natural daylight is a highly sought after commodity when it comes to designing buildings. In commercial, educational and industrial buildings, the benefits of natural lighting include improving mood, creativity and concentration – with rooflights a highly effective way of utilising this free and unlimited resource.

The importance of natural light – and rooflights – should not be underestimated. While windows or vertical glazing let daylight in, this light will only travel six metres into the room. However, with a well-designed rooflight system the interior will capture light no matter where the sun is and help to deliver three invisible benefits:

Healthier environment

Improved productivity

Reduced energy costs

The introduction of natural daylight into a building clearly has enormous benefits. Exposure to sunlight makes us feel happier, while the impact of Vitamin D reduces the risk of, and improves resistance to, disease and keeps the immune system functioning properly. As a result, it makes us feel better and leads to more positive and proactive behaviour.

Rooflights that bring the right level and quality of light into a building will improve mood and performance. Natural light can lead to improved eye and brain function and a subsequent increase in an individuals’ success. Daylight is an essential natural asset and improves concentration so working and learning environments will generally see an increase in productivity.

Daylight is scientifically proven to improve performance in schools, reduce absenteeism in the workplace and enhance recovery rates improve in hospitals. Research into retail environments has also shown that sales tend to be better in naturally lit locations where products seem more attractive to the customer. Also, natural light encourages customers to spend more time in these areas.

So it’s no surprise that more and more major retailers – such as the big UK supermarkets – are turning to rooflights to keep people shopping for longer. In fact, a number of these leading retail organisations now include large areas of rooflights at all new build projects to ensure a high percentage of evenly distributed natural light within the interior.

Today, the increased use of rooflights is one of the major tools that architects and designers use to reduce energy use, CO2 emissions and overall running costs. Brining natural light into the building can dramatically reduce the use of electric lights – which is often the biggest single use of energy and cause of CO2 emissions.

Over the years independent research has proved conclusively that the installation of rooflights can save energy, and the greater the rooflight area the greater the savings. The amount of energy needed to light a building artificially is often much greater than the amount of energy used to heat it, and is often the greatest single energy use in operating the building.

A recent report commissioned by the National Association of Rooflight Manufacturers (NARM) shows that increasing or improving rooflight areas in non-domestic buildings can make a huge impact. Its results show that savings can be achieved of up to £5.92/m2/yr in running costs and savings of up to 28.7 kg CO2/m2/yr in CO2 emissions.

The rising cost of energy bills, legislative changes and environmental regulations all played their part an increase in rooflight specification. But it is often the benefits that you can’t see which have the biggest impact. The infusion of free, abundantly available natural daylight will not only meet Building Regulations or reduce energy bills, it can also help occupants to feel and work smarter.