Energy analysis of toplighting strategies for office buildings in Austin

Motamedi, Sara
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The purpose of this study is to determine the energy impacts of daylighing through toplights in a hot humid climate. Daylight in the working environment improves the quality of the space, and productivity of employees. In addition, natural light is a free energy resource. On one hand, a proper design of daylight such as distributed toplights can reduce the electrical lighting consumption. On the other hand, in a hot climate like Austin heat gain is a major concern. Therefore, this thesis is shaped around this question: Can toplighting strategies save energy in Austin despite the fact that buildings receive more direct heat gain through toplights? The importance of daylighting is more revealed since electrical lighting takes up a significant portion of the total building energy use (21%). In this thesis I investigated the reduction of lighting electricity and compared that with the total effects of toplights on external conductance, lighting heat gain and solar gain. The results of my thesis show that regarding the site energy a proper toplighting strategy can save electrical lighting up to (70%) with smaller impact on heating and cooling loads. This means that toplights generally can be energy efficient alternatives for a one storey office building. Developing my research I studied which toplights are more efficient: north sawtooth roofs, south sawtooth roofs, monitor roofs or very simple skylights. I compared different toplighting strategies and provided a design guide containing graphs of site energy, source energy, annual cost saving per square feet, as well as light distribution of each toplight. I believe this can accelerate implementation of efficient toplighting strategies in the design process. Concluding how significantly efficient daylighting is over heat gain, I finalized my research by comparison of skylights with different visible transmission (VT) and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). The major result of this thesis is that proper toplighting strategies can save energy despite the increased solar gain. It is anticipated that the thesis findings will promote the implementation of toplighting strategies and higher VT glass type in the energy efficient building industry.