Gone are the days where you needed lots of windows with plenty of sun exposure to ensure a light and airy room. Sunlight transportation systems use fibre optic cables to channel natural daylight from the building’s rooftops to darker or windowless spaces.
This is a sustainable way of lighting a room for several reasons; it reduces the need for artificial lighting in otherwise poorly-lit rooms, plus they lose less heat to the external environment than a large window pane that would provide the same amount of light.
On top of the benefits of a more energy efficient building, studies have shown that well-lit workspaces plentiful in natural light can create a happier and more productive workforce.
LEDs (light emitting diodes) have become internationally recognised as the most sustainable way to light any property.
Not only do they emit more light while using 80% less electricity, they give off almost no heat (the main cause of wasted energy and money with your traditional counterparts) and last up to twenty times longer than incandescent bulbs.
LEDs are now installed as standard in new buildings and strongly encouraged when refurbishing and upgrading older properties. For example, energy supplier E.ON are themselves in the middle of refitting all their properties with LED lights, a move that has made one of their offices 55% more energy efficient.
LiFi (or Light Fidelity) is a relatively new form of wireless communication technology – rather than using radio waves to transmit data (WiFi), LiFi uses light – specifically LED lamps.
LIFI was first demonstrated in a TEDTalk in 2011 and has several advantages over the more commonplace WiFi technology. For instance, transmitting data by light rather than sound is much faster by nature. The range of a LiFi device cannot penetrate through building fabric, making them automatically more secure for users.
The potential applications of LiFi could make for a better-connected, yet still energy-efficient, built environment. For example, LiFi-enabled street lamps could provide high-speed data communication 24/7 while still maintaining their usual function of illuminating our streets during the night.
These revolutionary products take us nicely on to innovations in the ways we can assess and design buildings to maximise natural light. This had always been difficult to visualise and calculate, but thanks to developments in ray-tracing modelling, it is possible to more accurately predict how natural light will flow into a new building design. This, in turn, can help us influence façade and layout design to provide well-designed and well-lit homes and workspaces