Energy & CO2 within Buildings



Throughout history, daylight has been the primary source of lighting in buildings, supplemented originally with burning fuels and more recently with electrical energy. Before daylight was supplemented or replaced with electric light in the late 19th century, concideration of good daylight strategies was essential. As we entered the 20th century, electric light supplemented daylight in buildings in many cases. Fortunately, during the last quarter of the 20th century and early years of this century, architects reconise the importance and value of introducing natural light into buildings.

The days when architects expected buildings to provide total automated control of the indoor environment are over. Inhabitants of houses, offices and factories prefer access to daylight and fresh air. Not only that, it is good
for their health and their productivity.

So how can the designers of buildings best deliver?

  •  Using Solar Power
  • Maximising Natural Light


The following criteria generally applies to most daylighted buildings. In all cases, specific issues about climate, geographic location, building type and client preferences may influence the importance of each item. The list below is a good place to start at the design phase with appropiate refinements during the design development and construction documents phases.
  • Avoid direct sunlight and skylight unless needed for thermal comfort
  • Bounce daylight to create indirect daylight
  • Bring daylight in from above to obtain deeper penetration
  • Filter daylight into buildings
  • Use sustainable design principles
  • Maximize ceiling height to gain better light distribution
  • When appropiate, seperate view glass from daylight glass
  • Determine weather daylight is primary or supplementary in lighting design
  • External control strategies offer best light and heat control
  • Building geometry and interior space planning should promote, rather than preclude, distribution of daylight
  • Locate the maximum number of spaces near daylight through building massing and configuration
  • Create low contrast between window frame and adjacent wallss to reduce glare and improve vision
  • Intergrate buidling systems, including artifical lighting with daylighting through control systems
“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
Thomas Edison, 1931.




 Solar power uses the suns natural energy to generate electricity and heat water within homes and buisnesses giving both environmental and economical benefits.

The use of solar power became very popular in the 1970s, but has fallen in and out of favour since depending on the potential savings when compared with fossil-fuel energy costs.

Photovoltaic cells capture the sun rays and convert the daylight directly into electricity . These Photovoltaic cells (PV's) can be used as roof tiles, they cover the roof of a house and take advantage of the light coming from the Sun.

As well as the fact that energy from the Sun is readily available, there are many other benefits. By locating photovoltaic cells on top of houses, no extra land space is needed and they can also be situated in urban areas. The technology now needed is about 90% cheaper than it was in the 1970s. Houses with solar roof tiles can in fact generate more electricity than is needed at certain times in the day, and can sell this back to local electricity companies.


From its beginnings as a way for individuals to generate energy within their own homes and buisnesses the scale of solar power has grown and is continuing to grow. In this time of prioritising the use of sustainable energy sources the sun is becoming increasingly important. 

Plans for large scale purpose built solar 'farms' or power plants have recently been unveiled both in the UK and abroad. These have generally avoided the controversy associated with planning applications for wind farms to date.

  • The largest planned in the UK will be a 5 acre facility in Cornwall. An influx of planning applications has been sparked by last years introduction of a feed -in tarrif available to those producing power through such facilities.
  • South Africa unveils plans for the world biggest solar power plant, a radical step in a coal dependant country where 1 in 6 people still live without electricity. Expected to cost 200bn Rand (£18.4bn) the plant aims to produce 5GW of electricity a year by the end of its first decade, this is one tenth of South Africas current energy needs.

The Transition Network ( is a network of UK towns , organisations and communities leading the response to the pressures of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and economic contraction. One example of such a community is Marlow, a town with a Solar100 project - aiming at 100 homes being solar powered, in order to benefit both its inhabitants and the planet as a whole.



In order to maximise the use of daylight as a renewable resource within a building and minimise the need for air conditioning, traditional heating and arfificial lighting and provide a building that produces less carbon and is at the same time comfortable to live in:
  •  South facing roofs maximise the effictiveness of solar collectors and photovoltaic panels
  • PV panels can be connected to heat pumps to heat the water within a building or heat it through a heating system
  • Low energy lighting and other appliances can be powered from the solar panels
  • Energy saving can be further enhanced through the use of intelligent features with in the building. For example blinds that close to provide shade from the sun when needed and windows that open to allow ventilation when required. Intelligent solar collectors angle themselves to face the sun for maximum daylight as the sun moves through the day.