Shedding some light

Mark Pardoe of Roofglaze explores how housebuilders and developers can use rooflights to make the most out of the crucial benefits of daylight for their customers.

Exposure to daylight has a whole host of benefits, both for residents’ wellness, and for their energy bills. Making the most of the daylight with rooflights can help to save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and create a general sense of long-term wellbeing.

Providing a bright, naturally lit interior, rooflights can reduce the requirement for artificial lighting. Daylight has many advantages over artificial light; not least the fact that it is a free and unlimited natural resource. While artificial light is essential, it uses a large amount of energy; reducing the requirement for it dramatically lowers energy use and CO2 emissions.

The savings in total energy costs and carbon footprint vary from building to building, but have been found to be more positive as rooflight area increases, often up to 20% of the roof area.

Mood & productivity

Daylight is an essential for homes. We can all recognise the impact daylight has on us; everyone’s spirits can be lifted by a few sunny days. There is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that buildings enjoying higher levels of natural light are more successful than those more reliant on artificial light. In all environments, eye and brain functions respond better to natural light, so people will ultimately perform better.

Natural daylight promotes a sense of wellbeing among building occupants, and rooflights achieve this without the potential issues created by views through windows installed in walls. Where vertical windows are not installed, rooflights provide occupants with beneficial contact with natural light.

By allowing in much more daylight, rooflights provide specific benefits – for a wide range of applications. Research demonstrates a clear correlation between classrooms with good natural light levels, and improved student performance. This demonstrates that children concentrate better in natural light, they are more focused and less easily distracted – which parents may appreciate in their own homes.

In the UK, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD as it is often referred to, is now a well-known phenomenon. This is a clinically diagnosed condition where the lack of sunlight in winter months makes people feel unwell. As well as avoiding this, natural light can also aid the healing process. Studies in hospitals have proven that the recovery rate of patients is accelerated where levels of natural light are increased.

Daylight can also improve people’s work productivity, by improving concentration. With the dramatic current increase in home-working, this can be an attractive benefit of a new home. And lastly, for their leisure time, people like bright, naturally lit environments, as shown by the popularity of domestic conservatories and sunrooms.

Making the choice

Recent studies have shown us that daylight can improve indoor climate conditions, reinvigorate the use of a space, and most importantly to improve the overall wellbeing, concentration, happiness, and comfort of the occupants.

Natural daylight is far better for us – and for the environment – than artificial light, but if we are going to make a big lighting change in our property, which natural lighting option will offer the most light and give us all those benefits that we are looking for?

Proven benefits

Research has shown us that rooflights offer some surprising benefits. Rooflights have been shown to provide at least twice as much light as vertical windows of the same size, and three times more light than dormers. They can also provide higher wall luminance than dormer and facade windows, resulting in a softer transition between the high luminance of the windowpane and the adjacent wall, therefore reducing the risk of glare.

Rooflights offer a better distribution of light on all floors of a building by balancing the light levels more consistently. The higher levels of light provided increase the number of hours when electric lighting is not needed, which can result in significant energy savings.

Rooflights also provide a larger variation of light levels, increasing visual interest within a room. They can be installed into cellars, basements and balconies where the installation of vertical windows may not be possible.

In summary, consider rooflights if you are looking to reduce the energy use from artificial light, to increase the levels of light consistently, reduce annoying glare, or just add light to bring function to an area of a home.

Mark Pardoe is regional technical sales manager at Roofglaze