Daylighting systems involve the use of natural lighting for the perimeter areas of a building. Such systems have light sensors and actuators to control artificial lighting. Opportunities for daylighting are strongly influenced by architectural decisions early in the design process, such as building form; the provision of inner atria, skylights and clerestories (glazed vertical steps in the roof); and the size, shape and position of windows. IEA (2000) provides a comprehensive sourcebook of conventional and less conventional techniques and technologies for daylighting.
A number of recent studies indicate savings in lighting energy use of 40 to 80% in the daylighted perimeter zones of office buildings (Rubinstein and Johnson, 1998; Jennings et al., 2000; Bodart and Herde, 2002; Reinhart, 2002; Atif and Galasiu, 2003; Li and Lam, 2003). The management of solar heat gain along with daylighting to reduce electric lighting also leads to a reduction in cooling loads. Lee et al. (1998) measured savings for an automated Venetian blind system integrated with office lighting controls, finding that lighting energy savings averaged 35% in winter and ranged from 40 to 75% in summer. Monitored reductions in summer cooling loads were 5 to 25% for a southeast-facing office in Oakland, California building, with even larger reductions in peak cooling loads. Ullah and Lefebvre (2000) reported measured savings of 13 to 32% for cooling plus ventilation energy using automatic blinds in a building in Singapore.
An impediment to more widespread use of daylighting is the linear, sequential nature of the design process. Based on a survey of 18 lighting professionals in the USA, Turnbull and Loisos (2000) found that, rather than involving lighting consultants from the very beginning, architects typically make a number of irreversible decisions at an early stage of the design that adversely impact daylighting, ‘then’ pass on their work to the lighting consultants and electrical engineers to do the lighting design. As a result, the lighting system becomes, de facto, strictly an electrical design.