Bright Ideas: Daylighting in CRE

August 15, 2023 | By: CRE Insight Journal

Striking a balance between sustainability and enhancing the tenant experience is pivotal in commercial real estate. Many architects, designers, and building owners are leaning towards sustainable and human centric design practices due to their numerous benefits. Among the strategies available, daylighting stands out not just for its green credentials, but also for the beneficial impact it can have on occupants. This approach marries architectural innovation with natural light, promising both tangible and intangible benefits.

What is Daylighting?

Daylighting refers to the deliberate use of natural light to illuminate indoor environments, thereby diminishing the reliance on artificial lighting. Architects and designers achieve this by harnessing architectural elements, such as windows, skylights, and even technologically advanced materials like prismatic glazing, to capture, redirect, and diffuse daylight throughout an interior space.

The roots of daylighting can be traced back to ancient architectural practices, where civilizations harnessed sunlight for both its functional and aesthetic virtues. Today, daylighting technologies such as smart glass, heliostats, and daylight harvesting systems can drastically enhance the usage of natural light at a property. While daylighting is not new, the convergence of technology and design we see today has allowed for more effective use of daylight than ever before.

Benefits of Daylighting

One of the most compelling arguments in favor of daylighting is the substantial energy savings it offers. Buildings that maximize the potential of daylighting tend to see a marked reduction in electricity consumption. Effective usage of natural light can also reduce HVAC costs. The presence of natural light can, in certain situations, modulate indoor temperatures, making environments feel more comfortable without additional cooling.

The relationship between natural light and human health has been the subject of numerous studies and is even factored into some building certifications. LEED, Fitwel, and WELL all encourage the use of daylighting, with Fitwel even providing guidance on the use of natural daylight. Additionally, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) publishes a standard for daylighting, ANSI/IES LP-3-20+EI, which provides a comprehensive guide on implementing daylighting at your property and measuring its effect.

Advantages for Tenants

For tenants, a workspace abundant in natural light can be a game-changer. There’s growing evidence to suggest that natural light helps promote better sleep by regulating the body’s circadian rhythm. In commercial settings, where individuals spend a large portion of their day indoors, such benefits can translate to enhanced productivity, fewer sick days, and improved employee morale.

With daylighting, tenants stand to reduce their energy expenditure, thanks to the diminished need for artificial lighting, translating to significant savings over time. Additionally, the ambience created by natural light often results in a more stimulating work environment, making spaces feel more vibrant and less sterile.

Advantages for Building Owners

From the perspective of building owners, daylighting isn’t just an architectural feature; it’s an investment. Properties that successfully integrate daylighting techniques not only stand out aesthetically but can also command higher rents due to their energy efficiency and wellness amenities. Given the benefits daylighting offers, many prospective tenants view it as a premium feature, making such properties more desirable.

Tenant satisfaction is closely intertwined with their living or working conditions. Satisfied tenants are less inclined to relocate, leading to more stable rental incomes and reduced turnover costs for building owners. On the sustainability front, properties that utilize daylighting stand a better chance at achieving green building certifications like LEED or wellness certification like WELL or Fitwel. In today’s rapid market, these certifications can significantly bolster a property’s marketability and value.

Daylighting in CRE

Daylighting represents a harmonious blend of design, sustainability, and wellbeing. Its multifaceted benefits underscore the importance of incorporating human centric design practices in commercial real estate. As architects, designers, and building owners increasingly prioritize wellbeing alongside sustainability, daylighting emerges as an excellent marriage of the two, illuminating a path to a more holistic future in real estate.

To stay up to date on news and resources such as this and other topics of importance to the real estate industry, subscribe to the free CRE Insight Journal Newsletter using this link.