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Lighting the way: Daylight ‘harvesting systems’ are a bright idea

December 24th, 2008

“What they’re looking at is the lighting itself,” he says. “Over the last decade, studies have shown that retail sales increase more than 20 to 50 percent if you have daylighting. You’re using a pure form of light and having a perfect color rendition. So if you’re a retailer that sells clothing, for instance, you want the colors to jump off the rack (and into someone’s shopping cart.) And later, customers doesn’t return something because the color isn’t what they thought it was.”

Additionally, public buildings such as schools, libraries and other learning institutions have become avid converts to daylight harvesting. Schools in particular have jumped on the natural-light bandwagon, with countless studies now showing that learning is greatly enhanced by non-disruptive natural light. Scientists and environmentalists (and school teachers) all agree that it’s a healthier form of light that increases mental capacity and focus, and even raises serotonin levels.

“We have metered and verified from military hangars we’ve installed systems in, and their metering processes say that their electric lights have been kept off in excess of 90 percent of the time,” Bilbrey says. “As far as monetary savings, that’s related to what your utilities rates are and how much wattage you use. In some places, the lights can stay off 90 percent of the time. So, it could save you $50 a month, or in some cases it can save $50,000.”

But the real bottom line (as opposed to the financial one…) goes back to Mother Nature.

“Everybody wants the office with the windows and everyone wants natural light,” says Bilbrey. “We are creatures who are meant to function in natural light.”

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