Lessons from the podcast Sustainable Lighting Design

with Isabel Villar & Maha Shalaby: Daylighting and lighting under the Nordic sky, findings from research and practice, by Marie-Claude Dubois A synopsis by Aida Miron

Marie-Claude Dubois is an associate professor at Lund University in Sweden and an expert on sustainable design at White Arkitekter.

She sees energy as an important aspect in society, where solutions have to be connected to the way we live, and emerge from social and lifestyle changes. Originally from Canada, her inspiration comes from energy conservation. In the 1990’s she became interested in environmental questions, back then energy was cheap and there was little interest in the subject in North America. She moved to Sweden, where the cost of energy was much higher, and began probing into environmental problems and foreseeing problems ahead. In her opinion, there will have to be social and lifestyle changes, with personal choices and politics to bring societal changes at large and bring this into the technical and social aspect of lighting and daylighting. Marie-Claude “sees daylight as a real energy resource, something precious, something we should not waste," and as a researcher and practitioner she advices the building sector "to stop relying solely on artificial solutions, to make buildings function in the natural world," to be in harmony with the environment, "and for projects to be connected to light in their localities…” Her book Daylighting and Lighting under a Nordic Sky, came about from her teaching and years of research on the basics of daylight and electric lighting. She “put order into her knowledge, with different concepts highlighted in each chapter:” daylight quality for example, with different references, research and relevant and applicable experience from her own practice. This is a book “rooted into practical problems.” A quote from the book review states: “After nearly a century when electric lighting has dominated the design of building interiors, a return to the use of daylight as the main ambient light source is motivated by energy, environmental, and health considerations. Good daylighting of building interiors not only promotes low energy use, it has the potential to (re)connect humans to the natural cycle of day and night, which promotes health and well-being.” As the pandemic highlights hygienic issues, and the need for more direct sunlight in buildings, and climate change remains one of the most pressing issues in the building sector from a health perspective, there will be more emphasis on daylight and air quality. Marie-Clause discusses issues of densification in urban centers and the need for daylighting and ventilation, in her words: “we cannot have healthy cities without natural daylight. There needs to be awareness, especially for already dense urban centers, there needs to be a balance.” Of high interest is her research on the importance and impact of natural light in schools. The right light in schools improves academic performance and is important for social behavior. Thinking about the spaces where children spend most of their time and their wellbeing, children’s performance in school is directly related to access to daylight and views. Not only is performance affected, but growth and overall health. Likewise, daylight is one of the most important aspects in offices. Designers and builders must begin thinking about daylight early in the design and daylight factors should also be integrated in urban planning early in the planning. At the SEED we found this podcast is a must listen, and recommend for those interested in climate change solutions and climate-based design, Marie-Claude provides essential knowledge and expertise on the subject of daylighting in buildings for healthy cities.

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