About This Guide

The Daylighting Pattern Guide illustrates how to create successful daylighting designs and presents information in a visual manner that appeals to designers as well as those with limited background in lighting design.  Detailed case studies are presented for a wide range of spatial scales and uses. Project types include offices, schools, libraries, laboratories, museums, industrial facilities, and recreational facilities and represent a diversity of regional climates. Designers and owners alike can easily see the changes in daylight distribution as alternative design variables are tested in order to quickly identify proven strategies during early design stages without needing to conduct complex simulations for each new design.

Each Pattern explores the inter-relationships and role of sky condition, site, building aperture, interior volume and space planning in delivering visual comfort to building occupants while supporting energy efficiency goals. This interactive tool uses a combination of real-world built examples and Radiance computer simulation to set the stage for analysis and comparison of design alternatives.

We have identified approximately 20 examples of well designed daylit spaces around the country.  Each building was photographed and measured.  We developed a simulation of each space, and then ran a sensitivity analysis of key design variables to see whether the outcome was optimized, and to demonstrate the impact of alternate (good and not so good) design decisions on the daylighting performance.  We also identify the key design variables that work together to contribute to the success of each space. These variables include orientation, glazing layout, area, shading strategies, furniture layout, ceiling height, etc.

About Daylighting

“Daylighting” commonly refers to the use of sunlight, skylight, and diffuse overcast sky illumination to support indoor activities.  A more robust interpretation requires that daylight be used as the primary source of daytime illumination to accommodate the occupants’ visual demands, and that a daylit space is experienced as a visually and thermally comfortable place connected to outdoor phenomena, and persistently maximizes electric lighting energy savings while minimizing peak energy demand. In many environments good daylighting means complete control of direct sunlight during all occupied times and the provision of sufficient diffuse daylight to meet ambient and potentially task lighting criteria during daylight hours. The benefits of this are many fold. Buildings illuminated with daylight can provide healthier and higher quality interior environments for building occupants. Daylit environments have been shown to increase individual productivity and human comfort, and provide the mental and visual stimulation necessary for the proper regulation of circadian rhythms.   Finally, lighting consumes 15-19% of all electric power generated in the United States (US-DOE 2006; US-EIA 2008) and the effective design of buildings to provide daylight as a source of functional illumination offers the potential to realize substantial lighting power savings. The  practice of daylighing spans multiple disciplines and can be complex to master.  But when done well, it can be a very powerful design tool and help promote occupant comfort and make buildings more beautiful and energy efficient.

The Daylighting Pattern Guide has been developed by New Buildings Institute (NBI) as part of its Advanced Buildings® suite of tools and resources to help design teams and other commercial building professionals create high performance commercial buildings. NBI is a nonprofit organization working to advance research, design practices and policies that improve energy efficiency in the built environment.

Development Team:

New Buildings Institute
Mark Frankel, Technical Director
Mark Lyles, Project Analyst

University of Idaho
Integrated Design Lab

Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, Director
Nicholas Hubof, Research Assistant
Alen Mahic, Research Assistant

University of Washington
Integrated Design Lab

Christopher Meek, AIA, Research Assistant Prof.
Martin Brennan, Research Assistant
Louis Caldwell, Graduate Student Assistant
Sarah Marshall, Research Assistant