Daylight Redirecting

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Americans spend 90% of their lives indoors, and as such, we crave natural light. It has been proven to improve sleep patterns, productivity, patient recovery times, student test scores, alertness, mood, memory, and health. It’s free and available when we need it most – 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM which is the typical work day. So why not use it to supplement or replace artificial light to positively affect our wallets and environment?

Buildings consume 39% of energy in the United States. Lighting accounts for 28% of all energy used in commercial buildings, the highest of any other component including cooling, heating, and equipment. To reduce our carbon footprint and utility bills, we should use free and readily available daylight, something which we crave, to enhance the artificial light that we pay for.

Daylight enters through a building’s windows and hits the floor. Anyone in its path may be bothered by glare and discomfort, thereby creating the need for window blinds. 3M Company introduces a new-to-the-world film technology, Daylight Redirecting Film (DRF), that redirects the sun’s light from the floor to the ceiling as it hits the window. With that natural light on the ceiling, glare is reduced and so is the need for artificial light. 3M’s DRF redirects 80% of the sun’s natural light to the ceiling up to 40’ into the room, resulting in electrical savings of up to 1.5 kwh / sq ft of floor area.

There are other daylighting solutions besides films such as clerestory glass, light shelves, and light redirecting blinds. While appropriate for some applications, they tend to be more complicated and require more maintenance than DRF. Here is a side-by-side comparison:

Daylight Redirecting Film Comparison
Clerestory Glass Light Shelves Light Directing Blinds 3M Daylight Redirecting Film
Blocks lights and sprinkler systems  xout  li-checkmark  xout  xout
Costly  xout  li-checkmark  li-checkmark  xout
Occupies interior space  xout  li-checkmark  xout  xout
Requires periodic cleaning to be effective  xout  li-checkmark  li-checkmark  xout
Low angle bypass that causes glare  xout  li-checkmark  xout  xout
Most sunlight still directed to floor  li-checkmark  xout  xout  xout

Are you an architect? Would you like to learn more? Please visit AEC Daily for an approved presentation worth 1.00 credit about daylight strategies.

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