How Architects can Contribute

“Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.” – Albert Schweitzer

In these times where oil and electricity prices are steadily rising, it should be the architect’s prerogative to design and build structures that are more efficient and sustainable – Green Architecture. Even as the Republic is screaming for lower fuel and electricity costs, we as architects’ should look into our work and see what we can offer and contribute. As numerous researches and studies have concluded, daylighting and its integration with electric lighting significantly reduce the amount of electricity that is needed to illuminate buildings. Organizations such as the US Green Building Council and its local counterpart the Philippine Green Building Council are actively advocating Green Architecture which promises a more efficient and sustainable use of the country’s resources. The US currently gives recognition to buildings that are on a certain level of efficiency through a point-based certification system known as the The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. Through its recognition system, building professionals are inclined to design their buildings under a set criterion. LEED is a third party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Efficiently lighting interiors is just one of the many aspects of design that an architect may tackle, it is however one of the most challenging and fruitful task that once perfected will certainly be beneficial to the building as it increases its life-cycle, the occupant as it promotes a healthier working (or living) condition and the environment as it lessens the impact of using electric power.

“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” – Robert H. Schuller

In the local practice of architecture, lighting is often given little attention by the architect. Being the chief professional in the design of buildings, they tend to overlook the value of proper lighting design and its effects on the overall performance of the building and its occupants. In most cases, the architect leaves the electric lighting design to other professionals and would account for the failure to achieve the goal of a well illuminated and comfortable built-environment; after all, architecture is about the marriage of art and engineering.

A critical planning element in any building or renovation project is the lighting system. Both Daylighting and Electric Lighting systems are significant for two reasons; the first being the unwarranted amount of energy that electric lighting can consume compared to the rest of a facility; and the second reason is the effect of light on the behaviour and performance of the building occupants. Lighting systems must be selected carefully to ensure that both the facility and the people using them can operate effectively and efficiently. The best lighting decisions are made when the architect understands the appropriate application for different types of equipment and successfully integrates the daylight and electric lighting system.

When properly designed and effectively integrated, the unified daylighting and electric lighting system can offer significant energy savings by offsetting a portion of the electric lighting load. A related benefit is the reduction in cooling capacity and use by lowering a significant component of internal gains. In addition to energy savings, daylighting generally improves occupant satisfaction and comfort. Studies in the United States are implying improvements in productivity and health in day-lit schools and offices. Windows have more pragmatic uses providing visual relief, interaction with nature, sense of time, orientation, ventilation, and in emergency cases – egress.


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