When Buildings and Biology Align: Shading and Daylight
Human beings are a complex system of hormones, moods, and delicate chemical and physical balance. Raise the temperature to even 2 degrees Celsius and you’re sick. Go through two bad days of sleeping and you get headaches.
In fact, you will be surprised to know that we have an internal biological clock in our brain that regulates cycles of alertness and sleepiness by responding to light changes in our environment. This is called Circadian Cycle, and it is absolutely essential for health and well-being and even more important for mental health.
A building that’s built to maximize health, well-being, and productivity should keep this in account. This is a fascinating intersection of two disciplines that rarely coincide- architecture and biology. Let’s see how we can integrate both worlds.
It is very important to bring in the natural daylight for multiple reasons. First and foremost, for visual comfort and less dependency on artificial lighting. Second, viewing and sitting in natural daylight increases melanin in your body, facilitating weight loss. Daylight viewing in the morning and evening improves the quality of sleep and keeps your circadian rhythms in check. Furthermore, lack of daylight makes you prone to depression and anxiety, which can be severe, and if not severe, can hamper your productivity.
Viewing daylight is equally as important as being in darkness. When you view daylight and when it falls on your skin, it signals your body to activate the parasympathetic nervous system thus alerting your brain and body. But when you view the sunset or natural light during the day end, your parasympathetic nervous system slows down and the sympathetic nervous system awakes, which is responsible for rest and recovery.
Many people working in cities have sleep problems because of a bad relationship to natural light. Sleep problems bring mental problems and very soon physical illness and rapid aging.
When Light & Building Dynamics Meet
We use various techniques such as optimum window-to-wall ratio, shading, and massing to enhance the light levels. This improves the comfort, and physical and mental well-being of occupants or the users of the building space.
Vision and Light window combination is an effective way of harnessing the light into the space. These windows will have different VLT concepts where the light window will have a higher transmission percentage than the vision window.
Solar shading devices are necessary to protect the glass pane from harsh sun, which basically prevents heat conduction and radiation through the glass into the indoor space.
Heat gain from opening apertures is significantly high compared to the other façade elements like walls and roofs. The shading feature evidently reduces the cooling load, proportionately leading to energy savings as shown in the graph.
In the shown graphs, the varying energy savings are noted by varying VSA (Vertical Shading Angle) of the horizontal shading device (Overhang) over the glass element. This strongly depicts the importance of window shade leading to notable energy shavings.
The drawn shading element will also help in enhancing the daylighting deeper into the floor plate through the nature of reflection.
McD BERL integrates the principles of health and well-being into your buildings enhancing the quality of life for occupants and reducing your capital and operational expenses dramatically.