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A Review of Daylight Design for Sustainable Building. WU, Bin 1155022517 2012.12.15. Introduction. Fig.1 Sky light with large splayed distribution surfaces at Mt. Angel Abbey Library in St. Benedict, Oregon. . Historical review. Ancient Egypt Roman Empire. Preindustrial architecture.

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Fig.1 Sky light with large splayed distribution surfaces at Mt. Angel Abbey Library in St. Benedict, Oregon.

historical review
Historical review

Ancient Egypt


Preindustrial architecture

Innovations to free the building form

Daylight was replaced by artificial light

Industrial architecture

energy crisis– return to make use of daylight

Innovative technologies and materials of daylighting

Postindustrial architecture

Fig. 2 Conventional Greek and Roman atrium yards served as safe spaces and work spaces

Fig. 3 Seagram Building designed by Mies van der Rohe with Philip Johnson

daylight metrics design guidelines
Daylight metrics & design guidelines

The Daylight Factor(DF)

Climate-based metrics:Daylight Autonomy(DA),Useful Daylight Illuminance(UDI)

the daylight factor df
The Daylight Factor(DF)

Daylight Factor is defined as a ratio of interior illuminance at a point in a building to the external horizontal illuminance under the CIE (International Commission on Illumination) overcast sky.

Daylight Factor indicates the efficiency of the building daylight system in harvesting the daylight from exterior environment.

Limitations: disregard the direct sunlight, building orientation and the climate condition.

Criteria and requirements of Daylight Factor can be found in codes or rating systems in many countries and areas.

daylight autonomy da
Daylight Autonomy(DA)

Daylight Autonomyis defined as the proportion of occupied time of a building when a minimum illuminance is maintained completely by daylight.

Continuous Daylight Autonomy (DAcon) and Maximum Daylight Autonomy (DAmax)

Objective: 1 credit for 40%< DAcon <60%, 2 credits for 60%< DAcon<80%, 3 credits for DAcon>80%. When using Max DA as a method, it is required that no more than 5% of the space having a DAmax>1%.

useful daylight illuminance udi
Useful Daylight Illuminance(UDI)

UDI divides annual occurrence daylight illuminance into four defined ranges: 0-100 lux for fell-short UDI, 100-500 lux for supplementary UDI, 500-2000 lux for autonomous UDI, and over 2000 lux for exceeded UDI. The range of 100-2000 lux is for Useful Daylight Illuminance.

Currently, there are no official recommedations or rating systems for the object of climate-based metrics.Whereas it is admittedly deemed that the quantified UDI is reasonable that occupants usually are more satisfied in rooms with interior illuminancein the range of 100-2000lux.

discussion factors influencing the interior daylight illumination
Discussion: factors influencing the interior Daylight illumination.

Environment: location, sun path,cloudiness,the microclimate.

Architectural Factors: orientation, building form.

Daylight apertures: sidelight, rooflight, atria.

Shading devices.

Innovative daylight technologies: prismatic glazing, light pipes, light shelves.



The relative position of the sun and the building

Determine the shading devices because of the different solar latitude

Sun path

Sunny climates

Cloudy climates

The placement and size of daylight apertures shall have a sensible respond to sky condition


Local condition: air pollution, obstructions, etc.

The Microclimate


Architectural Factors—Orientation

Usually implies the direction that main façade or facades face

Benefits more from the main facades facing south and north, rather than east and west

Different building in different climate zones have the different orientation to provide a better interior environment.

Fig. 3 plan of Jacbos House IIwith large glazing area facing to the south.

Fig. 4 plan of TheuerHouse with large glazing area facing to the north.


Architectural Factors—Building form

the width of the building form is sufficiently narrow

the orientation is important

Toplighting is needed when depth is relatively large

Linear forms

have an internal core

commonly design strategies are utilization of atria, lightwells, or courtyard to reduce the depth

toplighting is unavoidable

Centric forms

more beneficial to harvest daylightingcomparing with centric form

The large building envelope areas of clustered forms enable architects to organize the sidelighting and toplighting

Clustered forms


Daylight apertures

Uses apertures located in the wall planes

Provide the visual connection of exterior and interior

The depth of a room and the window heightare two essential parameters to the interior illumination.


Uses apertures located at the roof plane

No restriction with depth

More effective for cloudy climate

Control the potentia problem of glare and overheated


For the building with large depth

The shape and form of atria

The structure of the atrium roof can reduce its transparency by between 20 and 50 percent.

The surface parameters : colourand reflectivity



Shading devices

to avoid direct sunlight coming into the building through the apertures because: i) the illumination of direct sunlight is usually not needed to provide useful daylight illuminance in most climates at most time; ii) direct sunlight always brings unwanted heat gain; iii) direct sunlight is deemed as greatly increasing of potential problem of glare

window is most common part to install shading devices, and sometimes the roofs and walls

variable types


Innovative daylight technologies

To refract and redistribute the incoming light to produce a more diffuse distribution

Prismatic glazing

use lenses or mirrors to concentrated daylight and then transmitted the light to a lower level in building by “pipes”

heavily reliant on the availability of sunlight and has to work with the artificial light

Light pipes

provide shade and reflected sunlightand relatively inexpensive

work most effectively under the condition of sunlight sky rather than cloudy sky

Light shelves

  • The outline of simple steps for daylight design strategies
  • If a building has intelligently daylit design then it is able to reduce the use of energy for artificial light that may take a considerate proportion of total energy consumption particularly in some commercial buildings.
  • A comprehensive daylight system shall not forget the occupants’ comfort, productivity and health.
  • It shall be noticed that every aspect of the sustainable design strategies work integrated. When design the daylight system, it is at the point that the needs of other disciplines shall be take into consideration, such as ventilation, heating, cooling, sound attenuation and energy conversion.