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The Importance of Daylighting & Natural Ventilation

 

 

Electrical Power is consumed a lot in buildings.  Office buildings typically consume 17% of their power via electrical lighting. Lighting costs can easily be saved in many companies by dimming or switching them off.

 

 

“Office buildings must be designed in such a way that they receive adequate sunlight in the morning as well as evening,” says Chandramohan Balakrishnan, Consultant, Enmas Pulp & Paper Projects, Chennai.

 

 

 

 

“They must have east and west-facing glass windows to get more natural light. It leads to optimal usage of sunlight and helps reduce overall power consumption”.

 

What is Daylighting or Daylight Harvesting?

 

Daylighting is the practice of placing your windows, skylights, other openings, and reflective surfaces in such a way that sunlight can provide optimal internal lighting. Therefore, these green buildings are designed so that they collect and use the available natural light in their interiors to maximum effect. This drastically reduces the power consumption, which is usually associated with artificial lighting.

 

How can Existing Buildings Save Electricity?

 

Go around the building, and check if there are any excess lights, fans, or ACs running. Just switching off or dimming/reducing their intensity can significantly reduce your overall power consumption.

 

Automatic Lighting Control Systems

 

Automatic lighting control systems are also installed in daylight harvesting buildings. They are used to balance natural lighting with artificial lighting for optimal illumination of the interiors.

 

Light Shelves

 

Daylight harvesting also uses devices called light shelves which direct daylight further by bounding it off the ceiling. This light shelf is polished or reflective, and the roof must have a bright colour with excellent reflective properties. This way of providing “indirect” natural light gives a good quality of glare-free and soft light – that is way better than direct sunlight.

 

 

 

Natural Ventilation

 

Natural ventilation a.k.a. passive ventilation uses natural air movement and pressure differences to cool and ventilate a building. Like lighting, this too can significantly reduce the power load of a building. It can provide a fresh breeze without the need of electrical fans or AC.  These systems use wind currents for cross-ventilation resulting in a significantly high airflow without the consumption (or lesser consumption) of power. The system also has the potential to cool down the building at night. Natural ventilation means that architectural aspects of the building are considered way in advance – in tandem with the daylight optimisation setting.

 

How Natural Ventilation Works

 

Wind forces or thermally generated pressures drive natural night ventilation. The heat absorbed by the thermal mass (the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy) of the building is released into the indoor air at night. It is then eliminated by night ventilation. In the meantime, the external fresh air cools down the thermal mass. This thermal mass again resumes its role as a heat sink the next day.

Natural lighting and ventilation are more pleasing, healthy and mentally relaxing than any artificial system. Daylight harvesting can reduce as much as 25% of our power consumption. Thus, green choices are always better economically, environmentally, and even health-wise.

 

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