Shady Business

As energy prices keep rising, the cost of operating a building rises as well. With people always wanting to save money, more analysis and programs are being used to map and see how efficient a building’s design is. From envelope efficiency to structural reliability, computer programs have given us the ability to make quick changes and see the outcomes in a matter of minutes.  I came across an article that show cased on how lighting experts, architects, and clients worked together from the start to cut down on lighting costs. Since lighting accounts for 20 percent of the primary energy use in buildings, designing a well working lighting system will not only cut costs down, but make the spaces function better.  In the article many projects, ideas, and methods were shown on how certain elements can save money and turn spaces into magnificent enclosures.

An example that stood out to me a lot was the Sacramento International Airport’s Terminal B project. In this project the architects worked with the client and a lighting team to create a way to minimize glare inside the space. Since the client wanted a low maintenance system, the architect worked closely with the lighting team to see what products could be used. Once the architect knew what would work best for this situation they went ahead and modeled the building in a 3D program. After the building was modeled, the desired lighting products were applied, a time and day were set to the environment and a time lapse video was rendered out to show how sunlight and shadow moved across the space.  At the end of the project, the building was certified as LEED silver and used a combination of louvers and light sensors on the roof to cut lighting costs.

The video below shows a time-lapse rendering simulation compared to the actual space.  It shows us how far computer design has gotten and how close they can model spaces in actual time.


Without the help of computer programs, buildings might not be as efficient as they could be.  There are standard regulations and recommendations one can follow, but the ability to change one type of material, press a button and get a new value right away helps a lot. With the ability for programs to do multiple calculations and show us what is happening in our spaces shows us where things need to improve.



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