If you’re considering a new roof for your commercial building and thinking about removing or covering existing skylights in the roof, you might want to think again.
Sometimes building owners cover old skylights with new roofing materials because they’re concerned about potential heat loss and leakage issues. However, newer skylight designs and competent installation methods mean that a skylight installation can be energy-efficient, resistant to wind and watertight.
|Royalty installed skylights as part of this roof retrofit project.|
A new skylight installation offers several benefits:
Daylight has been shown to positively impact productivity, because our eyes and brains function better with natural light compared with artificial. This is the case in the workplace as well as in schools, where children are able to concentrate and maintain focus better because there is plenty of natural light. Office workers in settings where daylighting is used show better attention and alertness, and have lower absenteeism rates in some cases.
Daylighting can improve the attractiveness of building interiors. Natural light is better for interior design because it provides enhanced aesthetics, color and definition of space, and draws attention to architectural details.
Depending on where you’re located and how much natural lighting you’re able to implement, you may be eligible for incentives such as energy rebates or tax breaks from local or federal government entities. In addition, for both new construction and renovation projects, skylights can help contribute to LEED credits. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system to provide standards for choosing products based on environmental attributes.
Perhaps the most tangible benefit of a new skylight installation is energy cost savings. New skylights can potentially pay for themselves within a few years because of the resultant energy savings. When the number of skylights is optimized for space and ceiling height, studies have shown that facilities of all types – retail, school, industrial, etc. – can save thousands of dollars annually in lighting bills. In spaces with tall ceilings, skylights can light a large area, allowing electric lighting to be turned off or down to save energy. “Toplighting” is a term that has been coined to mean skylights being used together with lighting controls that adjust electrical light output, depending on how much natural light the skylights provide. In some cases, optimized toplighting systems have saved as much as 50% in annual lighting energy. Some energy codes require automatic or minimal manual control of lighting in areas where daylighting is available.
To learn more about what the US Department of Energy has to say about daylighting, lighting controls and related issues, download their Lighting Resource Guide.
The success of your skylight installation is largely dependent on the specifics of the product that is installed. The water tightness, wind resistance, shading, sound reduction, ventilation, and UV coatings of a skylight should all be considered. As with any project involving roofing components, a reliable skylight installation is determined by both the quality of the materials and the quality of the installing contractor.