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- Green Homes—Lighting
Use less energy and create a healthier environment
Light from the Start
Today’s residential lighting considerations go beyond decorative fixtures. Lighting influences our general well-being. It plays a role in our energy use and the greater U.S. demand for energy and its implications, and our choices may cause light pollution or add toxins to the environment. Lighting planning even includes control and maintenance decisions.
Getting the best light starts in the design. Locating and designing a project properly can take advantage of free natural daylight, increase its impact throughout a home and reduce any potential for glare. Skylights, solar tubes, translucent room partitions and glass block walls or even varied interior wall heights can be ways to bring in the light.
Windows with high-performance glazing can make the most of daylight and great outdoor views but need to be appropriately placed. “Window area and orientation are important factors,” says Jay Hall, acting director of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Homes program, which is a rating system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. “The goal is to have large enough windows to let in sunlight without affecting the heating or cooling load. Proper orientation with overhangs or roofs can allow in plenty of light in winter while controlling the light in summer.”
Good planning also includes minimizing light coming from a home or property, according to the Lighting Research Center, a research and education organization devoted to lighting at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Low-reflecting surfaces and downward-directed lights are among ways to reduce the glow that ruins access to the night sky, light trespass on neighboring properties, and glare affecting passersby.
To keep occupants comfortable and safe, plan easy control over general, task, and accent lighting with accessible switches and outlets and adjustable-height fixtures. Make life easier as you age by shielding light sources, reducing glare, and providing greater contrast between transitional areas in your home.
The lighting marketplace is evolving. When making your lighting choices, match your light source with fixtures that will ensure they perform properly and for a long time. Determine the light level, uniformity, and distribution of light, as well as the color of light you want. Figure in ease of replacement, both in actual physical access and market availability. Here are some options.
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