It is the element that anyone can relate to, Light. There is no doubt, the field of photobiology has proven the significance of light towards our circadian rhythm. However, the disappointment may be the lack of understanding from the built environment industry, while the language of aesthetic value in buildings has been always on the sketch book of Architects, many have failed to understand the fundamental of a biophilic buildings, the very built environment that we need that connects us to nature better. One crucial aspect of it is the usage of Daylight. As some of you may know, i am on my investigation to the effectiveness of daylight and task light for office space as part of my Msc thesis, part of the reason that motivated me so much in trying to understand lighting design was my office space in my previous architecture internship.
Daylight for the Office Space – The language many still do not Appreciate
Lighting matters in an office space, a good lighting system can save the energy usage while not sacrificing office occupants’ visual comfort which will affect their productivity. However with the invention of artificial lighting, many architects have preferred to do away strategies to harvest natural daylight and rely on artificial lights during the day time. Such a waste! The best quality of light remain untapped! The picture above illustrates 3 example of lighting strategies, as you can see the left one has induced glare into the office space (judging by the obvious luminance ratio), the one in the middle was actually my work place that i really hated, the right one is an example of good daylight distribution across the office space.
There are many creative ways of getting daylight deeper into your office space. In this write up i am going to write specifically on the 3 reasons why light shelf is part of the design of high performance building in the tropics. I will not go into the details of light shelf however, but i will like to highlight on 3 reasons that also debunk 3 common myths on the usage of light shelf in the tropics, as some have regarded it as an architecture element coming from the west.
1) Light Shelf does not induce additional heat into Indoor AC space
2. Harvesting Daylight does not only saves Electrical Energy from avoiding the need of artificial lighting, but saves internal AC load instead
Also, by having lesser electrical lighting, this also means lesser indoor AC heat gain in respect to the law of thermodynamics where any electrical wattage of indoor space will be eventually converted to heat gain for indoor AC. Below is an illustration of the breakdown of energy consumption of a typical office, as you can see, lighting heat gain is significantly one fifth of the AC load.
3. The benefit of Daylight is Abundance, and often underestimated.
An example of a lecture on going in a 100% daylight assisted room, way much more pleasant compared to artificial down lights. Don’t you think so?
The Green Energy Office is also designed in such a way that the light shelf is placed along North and South orientation while the building self shades itself, it is understood that the sun path in Malaysia will have a maximum of 63 degrees sun angle from floor plane for both North and South, thus it is relatively easy to shade against direct sun light.
So what do you think about the application of Light Shelf in the tropics? These are examples of projects in Malaysia already done with light shelf and has proven to be a significant component in the overall high performance building to bring down energy usage and hence also shorter payback period. Here i attach some of the key facts of the mentioned building.