Daylight Harvesting: The Oldest Trick in the Lighting Control Book

Daylight harvesting combines integrated lighting control systems with the oldest energy source around – the sun.

Daylight Harvesting: The Oldest Trick in the Lighting Control Book
A classroom lit by interior electric light and natural exterior light. Roughly 40 percent of an average facility's energy is used for lighting, but that number can be greatly reduced by daylight harvesting lighting control systems.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics
Daylight Harvesting: The Oldest Trick in the Lighting Control Book
A classroom lit by interior electric light and natural exterior light. Roughly 40 percent of an average facility's energy is used for lighting, but that number can be greatly reduced by daylight harvesting lighting control systems.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics

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Daylight Harvesting: The Oldest Trick in the Lighting Control Book

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out of them can yield big gains: One Lutron study estimates that lighting control systems can increase worker productivity from one percent to five percent, which has the secondary benefit of greatly decreasing the time it takes to see a return on the initial investment in a lighting control system.


Building regulations from the federal to the municipal levels increasingly require daylight harvesting techniques in new constructino or significant renovations. Even individual school boards are demanding their use, says Meshberg, and daylighting and daylight harvesting have been important factors for years in acquiring LEED certifications, standards for sustainable building put forth by the U.S. Green Building Council.

According to Lutron, lighting controls can contribute to the achievement of up to 40 out of 110 possible points (36 percent) in the LEED 2009 NC rating system if combined properly with other solutions.

The largest single LEED category is Energy and Atmosphere (19 possible points), which is based on optimized energy performance. For buildings that use daylight harvesting systems those are “some pretty low-hanging LEED fruit points,” says Meshberg.

Bottom Line

The bottom line with daylighting and daylight harvesting is, well, the bottom line. Between the reduction in energy usage and energy cost savings and the well-documented boosts in worker productivity, the benefits of daylight harvesting are apparent.

In both new construction and retrofits, money is spent up front on hardware that will potentially save thousands of dollars every year by harnessing the oldest energy source around – the sun. Driven by government regulations, environmental concerns and the never-ending pursuit of saving money, daylight harvesting is becoming more widespread, yet it really is a return to some of the earliest principals of architecture. And with the demand for energy efficiency likely to increase significantly in the coming years, daylight harvesting almost certainly is not a fad.

“It’s being realized as a very cost-effective energy-savings device,” says Grable.



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