Lighting Research Center Designs New Skylight to Scoop Up Daylight, Save Energy

Strategic angled glass balances daily and seasonal light-level fluctuations for optimal light

Released: 20-Aug-2013 4:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
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Newswise — The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently released a guide for designing light scoops—an innovative type of skylight designed by the LRC with funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Light scoops provide optimal levels of daylight throughout the changing seasons and daily fluctuations in weather by capturing and strategically redirecting daylight into buildings.

Many conventional horizontal skylights provide too much sun on days that are warm and sunny, and too little sun on days that are cold and dark. The LRC’s new light scoops design balances out these daily and seasonal fluctuations in light level and temperature by providing less light in summer and more light in winter, while accounting for the natural pattern of the sun as it travels across the sky. In overcast conditions, a light scoop receives light from the brightest part of the sky, known as the zenith. They work very well in locations that are frequently cloudy and overcast such as Seattle, Portland, Detroit, and Buffalo.

Using light scoops and controls, electric lights can be turned off or dimmed when adequate daylight is available, thus saving energy and operating costs. Light scoops can also save heating and cooling energy.

Not only does this new design save energy and operating costs, but it provides occupants with a more pleasant environment. Light scoops provide “patches of sun” where occupants can enjoy the health benefits of sunlight. In 2012, 14 light scoops were installed on an expansion of the Welch Allyn corporate headquarters in Skaneateles, N.Y. Several months after the light scoops were installed, 48 occupants completed a survey with a very high rate of satisfaction—almost 90 percent “like” or “strongly like” the patches of sun in the atrium, with responses such as, “sometimes I like to take a mental break, sitting in the sun,” “I just love to have sun, especially with the way it used to be [before renovation],” and “it's very relaxing.” More details of the Welch Allyn installation and case study can be found in the Light Scoops design guide.

Light Scoops: A Design Guide demonstrates how to design light scoops to meet target light levels and includes a performance comparison of light scoops vs. conventional skylights. Click here to download a free copy of the guide.

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y., and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. The LRC offers the world's premier graduate education in lighting, including one- and two-year master's programs and a Ph.D. program. Since 1988 the LRC has built an international reputation as a reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. The LRC also provides training programs for government agencies, utilities, contractors, lighting designers, and other lighting professionals.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation's oldest technological university. The university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research conducted in a wide range of fields, with particular emphasis in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and the media arts and technology. The Institute is well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.

About NYSERDA
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.


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