Let the Sky In
and Keep the Weather Out
Skylights and Daylighting
The Evolution of Skylights
Skylights can represent attractive and functional additions to nearly all building types—residential to commercial, institutional to industrial.
Interestingly, skylights have been around for some time. In Ancient Roman architecture, open skylights (as in open air) were used for both practical and artistic purposes. Closed skylights emerged in the Industrial Revolution as some glazing capabilities became available. The term “roof window” emerged from this time period. Closer to our time, we migrated from fixed skylights to operable ones that were manually opened.
Libart further extends the evolution of skylights with retractable ones. Here, electronic control enables complete, custom positioning of the skylight from fully open to fully closed. In addition, Libart skylights can form an entire retractable roof.
From those early Roman days, it was understood that adding natural daylight to the building interior was very much desirable. It could offset the need for so many torches for lighting and even vent the smoke created by the torches.
More importantly, however, skylights became popular for that flood of natural light that simply felt good and made people feel better about being inside.
Today, we know that exposure to daylight in buildings can return huge dividends, such as:
- Increased occupant productivity
- Improved psychological and physiological well-being
- Better energy management
Any fenestration measures can help you achieve the benefits above. Skylights, in particular, represent a great way to achieve daylighting.
For instance, we know that access to pleasant views out of windows partially accounts for that feeling of well-being and productivity. Meanwhile, when the view from the window is not as pleasant, the sense of well-being as well as the productivity diminishes. (It is still better than having no window view, however.)
Skylights, on the other hand, always represent a way to bring in the natural light, as well as a view of the sky, without being concerned about what might interfere with that view.
Skylights add an architectural flare to every project, naturally creating a “warm” atmosphere. By lending the designer this freedom, distinctive designs result. But creativity isn’t justification enough. Adding a skylight to a room or skylights to any space will make that space seem larger. That translates to higher property values.
Properties featuring skylights tend to hold their value longer and command high return on investment. This is true in both residential and non-residential markets. In residential markets, in fact, adding a skylight is considered one of the top ten things you can do to increase home value.
Energy efficiency is a multi-faceted topic. For example, adding any fenestration to a building can challenge energy usage. Windows or skylights could cause heat gain which can require energy intensive cooling. Or, they could cause heat loss which could require energy intensive heating. This can occur because the glass skylight (or window) does not have as high an “R” or insulating value as does a typical wall or ceiling.
But that is not generally the case. When engineered properly, skylights can, in fact, enhance the energy efficiency of the building. How so?
First, they can offset the need for artificial lighting. Non-residential buildings account for over 40% of the U.S. energy consumption. And within these buildings, lighting accounts for 38% of the typical energy use. Ventilation and cooling may account for only about 12-13% each. (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2012)
Skylights can dramatically offset the need for artificial lighting. In some spaces, the use of skylights can completely replace artificial lighting during daytime hours.
Second, well-engineered skylights balance such factors as light transmission with heat loss.
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) examines windows and skylights for their thermal efficiency. NFRC considers at least three factors in their evaluation: U-factor or U-value, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, and Visible Transmittance.
The U-factor measures how well the skylight prevents heat from escaping the building. The lower the number, the better the skylight is at keeping heat inside. The primary difference between the U-factor and the R-value is that the U-factor measures the rate of heat loss while the R-value looks at the resistance to heat loss.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient measures how much heat from the sun is blocked. The lower the number, the more a skylight is blocking solar heat gain. Blocking solar heat gain is particularly important during the summer cooling season in hot Southern climates. By contrast, people in Northern climates may want solar heat gain during the cold winter months to lessen the cost of heating the home.
Visible Transmittance measures how much light comes through the skylight. The higher the value, the higher the potential for daylighting.
The best skylights create a happy marriage between these competing priorities (such as a high Visible Transmittance and low U-factor).
Third, skylights can offset the need for mechanical heating and cooling. Considering the data mentioned above, you can see that even a fixed, non-operable skylight can help offset heating in cold, winter months through its low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. And Libart skylights offer integrated shading which can offset undesirable Solar Heat Gain Coefficients in the warm and sunny summer months. This results in less need for mechanical cooling.
In addition, retractable skylights can be used for passive cooling and natural ventilation. This sustainable practice has an immediate and positive impact on the facility’s energy use by offsetting the need for costly mechanical cooling and ventilation.
High-quality Modern Glazing
Early skylights consisted of a single thickness of glass in a frame. Today, they come in a variety of materials, with laminated or tempered glass and tinted coatings, which can control heat transmission and UV radiation. In fact, giant strides have been taken in modern glazing and skylights have incorporated these advances. Further, Libart places their glass skylight panels in custom-formed and thermally-broken (insulated) aluminum frames.
Skylights can be
motorized or easily
Retractable skylights from Libart give your venue the perfect blend of outdoor comfort and indoor freedom. Libart’s skylights delight your guests while allowing you to capitalize on outdoor space year-round. With several models from which to choose, Libart can custom-design the perfect skylight for your restaurant, hotel or even industrial building to provide you with a unique, exciting yet practical architectural solution.
Libart offers two distinct approaches to skylights: