If the best things in life are free, then Australia has endless complimentary bounty – diverse stunning landscapes from coast to mountainous terrain, often accompanied by blue skies and an abundance of sunlight. Research has shown that sunshine does more than brighten our lounge rooms and warm our bones, it also improves immunity, eye sight, bone density and even our mental health. It stands to reason then that Australian homeowners want to let in the light.
Understandably, homeowners want a build that makes the most of views and sunlight. In the past, windows facing into a natural light source has been the go-to solution – but more and more, architects and builders are asking for solutions beyond wall-framed apertures.
Australian-owned and -operated daylighting expert Solatube, whose innovation and advanced technology have kept it at the forefront of the industry for 30 years, is keen to shine a light on the issues.
‘Using natural light to lower energy ratings is a key focus for Solatube – but it’s important to understand the difference between a tubular skylight and the relatively new market of tubular daylighting systems, which are fitted with tubular daylight devices (TDDs),’ says Solatube general manager, Brett Dickson. ‘The confusion lies in the fact that until recently, architects have been restricted to using natural light as a feature through glazing, roof windows and other products due to issues such as glare, lighting consistency, energy efficiency and impact of UV on a space.’
Brett explains that ‘architects and owners are requesting these products to meet minimum light levels or to meet 85 per cent of lighting required for the building, [and] as a result, many builders are being left out of pocket by quoting products which will never meet these lighting requirements’.
However, there is a clear solution: architects are now able to overcome these issues and incorporate TDDs into energy-efficient buildings.
‘Solatube offers a special lighting design service,’ Brett says. ‘This enables us to take a room’s dimensions, put it into our lighting design calculator, along with the required levels of lights governed by what activity is taking place in that room, and we then produce an IES (photometric) file. This file can then be provided to a lighting engineer for sign off as a working source of light, which is what artificial light suppliers offer.’