Occupant comfort is arguably one of the most important trends in the building community today. Study after study points to the tremendous benefits that come from having the inhabitants of a building in a state of well-being. Daylighting is at the top of the list when it comes to occupant comfort – specifically the use of natural light to fill the space.
According to the Whole Building Design Guide published by the National Institute of Building Sciences, “daylighting” is defined as:
Daylighting is the controlled admission of natural light, direct sunlight, and diffused-skylight into a building to reduce electric lighting and saving energy. By providing a direct link to the dynamic and perpetually evolving patterns of outdoor illumination, daylighting helps create a visually stimulating and productive environment for building occupants, while reducing as much as one third of total building energy costs.
Traditionally, daylighting efforts focused on the orientation of the building as well as blinds or window coverings used to control the light, UV, and glare. However, as this trend grew, a new tool was introduced: Mirrors.
For the most part, mirrors have been used in building design as a decorative product. However, over time and specifically more recently with the occupant comfort push into high gear, the use of mirrors has taken on a new role: To advance and expand the natural light that comes into a room. The strategic placement of a mirror or mirrors can significantly enhance daylighting in a given space. Designers are now laying out rooms to have mirrors adjacent to windows, to be able to catch the light and then distribute it throughout the room. This maneuver allows less artificial light to be used, and also provides other design and health benefits.
Mirrors can also make a room feel bigger or more open. Mirrors have always created the illusion of space, and that is still the case. Designers nonetheless need to think through the placement of the product to maximize its effectiveness.
We are one of the leading manufacturers of mirror in North America. According to our Marketing Operations Manager, Danik Dancause, there are a number of specific parameters to keep in mind when planning a mirror installation as it relates to daylighting.
“When the goal is to increase natural light in rooms using a mirror, we suggest that the designer focus on areas where the light naturally strikes first. It is also important to consider natural light patterns throughout the day as well as how these patterns flow throughout the seasons. Bottom line, mirrors need to be utilized near spaces with substantial natural light to take full advantage of this most precious and welcoming light,” states Walker’s Danik Dancause.
Natural light is now heavily encouraged by sustainable rating systems and energy programs, and in many cases is required by energy codes and standards. The value proposition for daylight improvement and distribution is fairly simple: as daylight levels increase in a space, electric light levels can automatically decrease to maintain a target task-light level and save energy.
Whether at home or in the workplace environment, the comfort of the occupant is essential. Mirrors are a marvelous tool that enhance daylighting, which translates into improved health and wellness for those occupying such a space.