Daylighting is the process of taking advantage of natural light, both in commercial and residential properties. The use of natural light allows owners and residents to switch off artificial light, resulting in energy cost savings. Daylight does not heat up a space as much as artificial lighting does, thus creating less demand on the cooling system. Natural light helps control and reduce glare, allowing families and business owners to distribute light more uniformly throughout a space. Finally, people who live and work in an environment filled with natural light tend to be happier and more productive.
A number of large companies have already figured out the advantages of using daylight in their stores. For instance, Costco, Home Depot and Wal-Mart all use huge skylights to allow natural light to pour into their stores, making them cheerful spaces to shop and enjoy. Moreover, roof windows are used extensively in shopping malls such as Scottsdale Fashion Square.
However, daylighting doesn’t come without some challenges. Any time you perforate the roof and your roofing materials, there is a chance for leaks to develop unless the installation of the skylight is professionally designed and handled. In addition, roofs with skylights tend to need more maintenance to maintain leak-proof seals around the perforations. However, most property owners and managers feel the benefits far outweigh the maintenance costs — maintenance which should be performed on a regular basis anyway, with or without skylights.
In order for daylighting to be effective, it's ideal that a designer be involved in the early stages of the project. The whole layout must be carefully considered. Daylight used incorrectly may actually require more artificial sources to light up the areas in shadow.
Most importantly, the installation of the skylights should be coordinated with a professional roofer, who can make sure the job is done correctly so that there are no leaks or problems that may develop in the future. And regular maintenance by a professional roofer is important to maintain a leak-proof seal around skylights.