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Troy, N.Y. -  9/18/2012

LRC Researchers Propose New Metric to Help Architects and Green Builders Take Advantage of Daylighting

 

Harmony Library in Fort Collins, CO optimizes architectural elements and electric lighting, resulting in good daylighting design.Troy, N. Y. -  Researchers at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have proposed a new metric to help architects and builders more easily take advantage of the benefits of daylighting, from significant energy savings to the positive impact of light on health, when designing the built environment. This new metric—the daylighting dashboard—provides an early indication of a design’s potential to meet eight design goals that contribute to the successful use of daylighting.
 
The proposed metrics were recently published in a paper titled, “Conceptual Design Metrics for Daylighting” in the journal Lighting Research & Technology. The project was led by Russ Leslie, associate director and professor at the Lighting Research Center, along with Leora Radetsky, lead research specialist; Mariana Figueiro, professor and Light and Health program director; Aaron Smith, former research specialist; and Lisa Yue, former graduate student. The project was sponsored by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).
 
The development of daylighting metrics has been the subject of considerable effort and debate, but no widely accepted metric has emerged to help recognize well-daylit buildings. Although simulation software exists to assist designers in daylight analysis, these programs are often overly complex and involve a high level of expertise. On the other hand, rule-of-thumb approaches that are often used to aid in the decision-making process are based on overly simplified assumptions.
 
Leslie and colleagues proposed the daylighting dashboard, a visual representation of a design’s potential to meet eight design goals: average illuminance, coverage, diffuse daylight, daylight autonomy, circadian stimulus, glazing area, view, and solar heat gain. “We propose eight minimum components and a simple way to estimate performance at the very beginning of building design,” said Leslie. “The daylighting dashboard allows for flexibility in precision, calculation software, or bracketing values for the eight goals, which can be prioritized in the context of individual projects, rating systems, or code requirements.” The daylighting dashboard is also the first integrative approach that includes a validated circadian stimulus model, taking into consideration photobiological benefits of daylighting, such as daytime alertness and more restful sleep at night.
 
This new metric provides an indication of performance and weaknesses of conceptual designs early in the design phase, while there is still an opportunity to make modifications. An architect facing one or more red flags during conceptual design could give further consideration to these issues or enlist appropriate daylight expertise. This early indication of performance of conceptual design alternatives is likely to guide architects toward better daylit buildings.
 
The image below exemplifies the use of the daylighting dashboard to compare three different classroom designs in their ability to meet the eight design goals.
 

 


About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC conducts research in light and human health, transportation lighting and safety, solid-state lighting, energy efficiency, and plant health. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. Learn more at www.lrc.rpi.edu.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America's first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.