Daylighting 101: Why Does Daylight Matter?

 Skylight casting diffuse light into a space (from our  gas station conversion  project)

Skylight casting diffuse light into a space (from our gas station conversion project)

Connecting to nature has a profound impact on our wellbeing. If you imagine being a room with big windows, indoor plants, fresh air, a view of a forest and lots of light, you instinctively feel more comfortable and relaxed than imagining being in a room with no windows or plants, recycled air and artificial light. “Natural light” is frequently cited as a major consideration when people are deciding where to live or how to remodel their existing homes. In architecture, natural light is referred to as daylight.

 Warm light hitting a wood floor (from our  CSA Farmstand  project)

Warm light hitting a wood floor (from our CSA Farmstand project)

There is a wealth of scientific evidence that daylight is good for us. In schools with good daylighting, students perform better, with test scores improving up to 26%. In offices, workers take fewer sick days and work more efficiently and productively. In stores, sales are increased (studies vary from showing a 0%-6% to 40% increase). In hospitals, patients recover more quickly. There are a variety of health benefits to sun exposure, such as boosting the immune system, reducing cholesterol, improving digestion and regulating our sleep cycles, relieving anxiety, among many others. Since most people spend 93% of their time indoors, our access to daylight while inside buildings can have a profound effect on our wellbeing.

So how do you maximize daylight in your existing spaces? First, it’s important to understand the basics of daylighting and how it might apply to your home, which we will explore in this series.