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  • Writer's pictureKelvin Mureithi

Daylight Modelling


Daylight modelling is an invaluable but often overlooked aspect of building design. Let's explore what it is, when it's used, and why it matters.

What is Daylight Modelling?

Daylight modelling is the computational analysis and simulation of natural light levels within and around a building. It utilises specialist software to quantify and optimise the amount and distribution of daylight entering a space.

In essence, it's a digital preview of a building's daylighting performance, well before construction begins. Just like test driving a car before purchasing, daylight modelling allows designers to evaluate different options and fine-tune the elements that affect daylight access.

Key variables assessed include window sizes, glass types, shading systems, and surface reflectance. It also considers external factors like nearby structures and landscapes that may obstruct sun pathways. Accurately modelling the sun and sky's illuminance under varying site conditions is crucial.

Ultimately, the goal is perfectly tuned daylighting - not too much to cause glare and overheating, but sufficient to create bright, visually comfortable spaces that connect occupants with nature's rhythms.

When is Daylight Modelling Used?

Daylight modelling is deployed in three main scenarios:

  • Town Planning Approvals: For large developments, modelling provides council planners predictive data to review compliance with daylight access requirements. It assures good daylighting "performance" is baked into the design.

  • Green Building Certification: Whether targeting Green Star, WELL, LEED, BREEAM or other standards, daylight analysis helps gain credits for quality daylighting.

  • Best Practice Design: Beyond minimum codes, modelling enables designers to craft exceptional daylighting for occupant health and comfort.

Why Daylight Modelling Matters

Thoughtful daylight modelling is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Informs Window Design: Windows are the gateway for natural light. Their size, placement and transparency dramatically influence interior daylight levels.

  • Modelling provides invaluable feedback for window optimisation — helping strike the right balance between stunning views, energy efficiency and visual comfort. Iterating virtually mitigates the risk of poor real-world performance.

  1. Selects Interior Finishes: Surface reflectance impacts daylight penetration.

  • Modelling can indicate ideal wall, floor and ceiling reflectances to distribute daylight deeper into rooms.

  • Brighter spaces feel more open and spacious. Reflective finishes also allow occupants to utilise daylight with less artificial lighting, saving energy.

  1. Optimises Health: Humans have an innate craving for natural light. Daylighting aligns with our circadian rhythms, boosting vitamin D production, mood and sleep quality. It also aids visual acuity and reduces eyestrain. Thoughtful modelling creates lighting conducive to health, wellbeing and comfort.

  2. Increases Productivity: Studies show daylight boosts work performance, concentration and satisfaction.

  • By optimising light quality and glare control, modelling enables the ideal lit environment to help occupants thrive.

  1. Future-proofs Value: Natural light access is highly desired by building owners, tenants and home buyers. Effective modelling therefore adds long-term real estate value. It shows environmental stewardship and commitment to occupant wellbeing - differentiating buildings as premium assets.

Now let's turn to the the impact of natural light.

The Power of Natural Light

Daylight Modelling Consultant
Well lit spaces can improve wellbeing, health, comfort (and property value)

Daylighting confers a multitude of evidence-based benefits:

Enhances Health and Wellbeing

Exposure to daylight regulates our circadian rhythms, vitamin D synthesis, mood, and sleep cycles. Natural light is a nutrient for the body and mind, uplifting occupants and fostering a sense of vitality. Environments devoid of daylight can adversely impact mental and physical health over time.

Optimises Visual Comfort

Judicious daylight modelling allows abundant light without glare or contrast issues. Soft, diffuse lighting illuminates spaces beautifully while minimizing eye strain. Reading and screens are easier to see, with less squinting required. Well-lit indoor areas simply feel more inviting and usable.

Promotes Energy Efficiency

Thoughtful daylighting design reduces reliance on artificial lighting during daytime hours. Integrating daylight modelling can significantly decrease lighting energy use, lowering a building's carbon footprint. Daylight is a free, renewable and healthy light source.

Aligns With Circadian Needs

Humans have evolved under natural light/dark patterns. Daylight signalling keeps our 24-hour biological clock aligned and robust. Disruption of these cycles through improper lighting adversely affects health. Daylight modelling harmonizes lighting with our inbuilt circadian requirements.

Boosts Occupant Performance

There is a demonstrated correlation between appropriate daylight exposure and improved office work, academic performance, retail sales, manufacturing output, and hospital patient recovery rates. Daylight stimulates our senses and sharpens cognitive function - light truly enhances productivity.

Creating indoor spaces maximised for health, efficiency, visual clarity and circadian entrainment generates measurable benefits for building developers, owners and occupants alike. Effective daylight modelling is the key to unlocking this potential.

Let's Use Daylight Modelling for Your Next Building Project

We've explored what daylight modelling is, when it's used, and why it matters.

Now let's put this knowledge into practice for your next construction project.

Here are key steps to implement high-quality modelling:

  • Engage an expert - Pick an experienced modelling consultant at the start of design. Just like hiring a great mechanic.

  • Set daylighting goals - Target specific metrics like daylight factors or LEED credits. This focuses the analysis.

  • Model iteratively - Test options and refine the design in modelling "prototype" rounds. Repeated test drives make the end product shine.

  • Simulate sun and sky - Use accurate sun angles and typical weather files for the location. Real-world data matters.

  • Evaluate treatments - Assess shades, reflectance and more to balance daylight access and heat/glare control. It's all in the thoughtful details.

  • Verify compliance - Demonstrate adherence with relevant zoning, planning and green building requirements. Check that important box.

  • Communicate benefits - Share compelling visuals and metrics with stakeholders. Numbers and images speak volumes.

  • Monitor post-occupancy - Track measured light levels after construction to validate modelled performance. Enjoy the open road of your lighting design journey.

Ready to elevate your next project with advanced daylight modelling? The payoffs in visual comfort, wellbeing, health and productivity make this effort well worth it.


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