Automation can take your skylight project to the next level.
“Photocontrols in conjunction with daylighting produce the best bang for your buck,” Ahland says. “Skylights will certainly benefit buildings without controls, but most owners want to see impact on the bottom line. Controls ensure the lights get turned off.”
The human eye has difficulty detecting when light levels are acceptable. But controls can, in addition to making life easier for FMs.
“I’ve been in a building with skylights on a nice sunny day, and all the interior lights were on. With so many things going on, the building manager forgot, and I had to tell him to shut them off,” says Barmore. “An automated system takes the guesswork out.”
Controls can incorporate manual override, but you likely won’t be using that switch to turn lights on.
“In a study, we found users that thought the system was less aggressive than they wanted, so they shut fixtures off themselves,” Heschong says.
To push your project over the top, find the sweet spot at the intersection of these three areas: reductions, rebates, and reroofing.
Lighting is one of the biggest pieces of the energy pie, so your first motivation is reduced energy costs. See sidebar for a case study with typical savings.
“Generally a skylighting solution pays for itself within four to seven years,” says Barmore. “Afterwards, when you start saving on energy every month, that’s probably the biggest incentive.”
But if the cuts aren’t compelling on their own, look for rebates and tax credits.
Some regional utilities will cover part of the upfront cost for upgrades, and the Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides up to 60 cents per square foot for cutting lighting consumption.
However, a skylighting project may be most feasible when roofing is already in the budget plan.
“Reroofing is the best time for a retrofit because you can determine the best use of your capital,” Barmore says. “Ask yourself what you can get out of your roof.”
Don’t miss the big picture and reroof without reasoning.
“Think about holistic solutions. Don’t just focus on the roof or the lighting, because all systems interact and have an impact,” explains Ahland. “It’s not about one or the other. It’s about the entire pie.”
Chris Curtland firstname.lastname@example.org is assistant editor of BUILDINGS.