May 3, 1999


How to receive our news releases via email

Berkeley Lab Science Beat

Berkeley Lab home page

Lab website index

Search Lab science articles archive
 Advanced Search  
Search Tips
BERKELEY, CA —  Architecture magazine has presented a 1999 Award for Architectural Research to a team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The award recognized an Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) research program called "Daylighting with Integrated Envelope and Lighting Systems." The six-year program demonstrated how to integrate existing and prototype window and lighting technologies into advanced systems that can attain greater energy efficiency and occupant comfort than conventional design practice.

The winning team was led by Stephen Selkowitz, head of EETD’s Building Technologies Department, and Eleanor Lee, EETD Project Manager, and included Dennis DiBartolomeo, Francis Rubinstein, Liliana Beltrán, Joseph Klems, Robert Sullivan, Edward Vine, and Robert Clear.

The award, co-sponsored by Architecture magazine and the Initiative for Architectural Research, is one of the profession’s highest honors for innovative research. The Initiative is a cooperative effort of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the American Institute of Architects, and the Architectural Research Centers Consortium.

"This is an excellent example of applied research in which the results are greater than the sum of the individual components because of an integration of scientific knowledge—a real model of what architecture can bring to the table," said Richard Eribes, one of three award jurors. Selkowitz accepted the award for the project team at a ceremony in New York City’s Paula Cooper Gallery. The Berkeley Lab research is described in the April issue of Architecture magazine.

"The honor is yet another recognition of Berkeley Lab’s outstanding contributions toward improving our nation’s efficient use and conservation of energy," said Laboratory Director Charles Shank. "Stephen Selkowitz and his colleagues are to be congratulated for their creative solutions to the challenges of maximizing the use of natural light in building design."

"Window and lighting systems in buildings are not operated as an integrated system," says Selkowitz. "As a result, the daylighting features of buildings—any type of window or skylight that brings outdoor light to the building’s interior—rarely reduces a building’s energy use as much as it could. Daylighting, when done well, can reduce building energy use substantially by reducing its need for electric lighting, cooling and heating."

"Our research suggests that in a daytime-occupied commercial building, dimmable daylighting controls could reduce the total electricity and peak demand between 20 and 40 percent," Lee added.

One goal of the research was to develop and test integrated windows and daylighting technology that would reduce peak electricity demand up to 40 percent in climates where air conditioning is typically in use. The solutions had to be technically feasible options for the marketplace. They also had to provide building occupants with pleasant, comfortable surroundings.

The team developed a variety of technological and design solutions to meet its goals. "One of the technologies we tested is a dynamic envelope and lighting system using blinds, light sensors, light dimmers and a computer control system to respond in real time to changes in sun and sky conditions. The system controls daylight intensity to provide a more comfortable, uniform interior work environment as sun and sky conditions altered the amount of light reaching the windows," said Lee.

Light-redirecting systems using light shelves, light pipes, skylights and other hardware were developed by the team to reflect daylight from windows or skylights and distribute it more uniformly and to greater depths within a building’s interior.

"We used simulations, field tests, and full-scale demonstrations to solve interdisciplinary technological problems that are often missed with component-oriented research. The team also developed practical computer-based design tools, reports and a guidebook for building designers," Lee said. Demonstration sites for these technologies include the Oakland Federal Center and the Palm Springs (California) Chamber of Commerce building.

The research was supported by the California Institute for Energy Efficiency, the Department of Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and the General Services Administration.

Technical articles about the work have been published in the ASHRAE Transactions, the Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society, and elsewhere.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified research and is managed by the University of California.