Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Disney and Virtual Daylighting

Daylighting is great, not only because it lowers energy costs and carbon footprint, but because it keeps you in touch with your own body clock and daily signals. i.e. It makes you happier and more productive.

Daylighting, though, is hard to get into all areas of a multiple story, large floor area building.
Top floor - skylights.
Bottom floors... you could deal with this in new construction through good design of courtyards,  floor layouts and light shelves but options are limited for an existing building.

So what does Disney have to do with this?
Their latest cruise ship, the Dream, has virtual portholes for interior staterooms.

These operate by tying a video feed from exterior cameras to a video screen "porthole" in each interior room (with some playful CGI overlays). The cameras roughly correspond to the location and direction a real porthole would occupy for each stateroom.

So why not solve the daylighting problem the same way?

An array of lights with programmable illumination and color temperature controls tied to a sensor on or near an exterior window roughly adjacent to the light array could replicate the near window lighting experience throughout a section of the building. Repeat with multiple arrays tied to multiple sensors and you have virtual daylighting. User controlled task lighting, an override program for bad weather, nighttime or an offset to the illumination and color could make up for the cases where outside lighting was not ideal for work.

This would not get you LEED EB:O&M* EQ2.4 (daylighting) credit, but implement it with LED lighting arrays and integrated sensors and you could go a long way towards LEED EB:O&M EAc1 (energy efficiency), EQc2.2 (controllability of lighting systems) and maybe an Innovation credit too.

*For new construction, the credits are LEED NC EQ8.1 (daylighting), EAc1 (energy efficiency) and EQ6.1,(controllability of lighting systems). However, as noted above, for new construction you could design around the need for virtual daylighting so I focused on the existing building credits instead.