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Better Daylight Through Distributed Intelligence

“The best way to achieve this change is through development of distributed intelligence in the form of smart luminaires, windows and skylights that carry their own sensors as well as logic controllers that adjust operable components based on environmental conditions.”

The benefits of daylight are many and their importance depends on the type of space. They include psychological benefits in terms of view and the connection to the outdoors, biological benefits in terms of support for circadian rhythms, visual performance benefits in terms of excellent (by default) colour rendering, as well as energy and economic benefits through the potential for reduction of electric lighting and hvac loads.

New developments in daylighting research and technology development are expected to have significant impact in the way we design buildings, aiming not only on visual but also on psychological and biological benefits. There are two main r&d areas that I expect will have strong impact. The first one is related to advancement in sensors, communications and controls, which will increase the reliability of automated electric lighting controls for daylight harvesting, and, most important, automated daylight management at the window and skylight level, based on sensing environmental changes indoors and outdoors. The second r&d area is in core sunlighting systems, which bring sunlight in the building core, i.e., in spaces away from windows and skylights, through sunlight collection, transportation and distribution systems.

To fully harness daylight in future buildings, we need not only to increase the reliability and cost-effectiveness of electric lighting controls for daylight harvesting, but also to include daylight management through operable windows and skylights that automatically adjust their solar optical properties based on changes in their environment, to maximise performance in terms of comfort and energy efficiency.

I think that the best way to achieve this change is through development of distributed intelligence in the form of smart luminaires, windows and skylights that carry their own sensors (occupancy, light, temperature, wind, etc.) as well as logic controllers that adjust operable components to optimise performance based on environmental conditions, focusing on comfort during occupancy and energy efficiency during vacancy. Smart luminaires that communicate with each other have the potential to dramatically increase the reliability of electric lighting controls for daylight harvesting. Smart windows that communicate with electric lighting luminaires and hvac systems have the potential to optimise performance in terms of comfort, energy efficiency and peak electricity demand reduction.

Dr Konstantinos (Kosta) Papamichael is a Professor in the Department of Design and the Co-Director of the California Lighting Technology Center at the University of California, Davis. He is a member of the US National Committee of the International Commission for Illumination (CIE) and the Chair of the Daylighting Committee of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), for which he led the development of the new version of the IES Recommended Practice for Daylighting Buildings.

This article is featured in D/A magazine #24, for more information visit DA.VELUX.com.

By Konstantinos Papamichael