new products SPOTLIGHT-The Role of Daylight in Healthcare Facility Design by LOU PODBELSKI ealthcare facilities are typically designed with the intention of providing a place for patients to be treated and sent on their way as quickly as possible. However, what is sometimes overlooked is how the design of those facilities can impact a patient’s recovery time and the overall sustainability and effectiveness of a facility. Countless studies have linked access to natural daylight and views of nature to faster patient recovery rates, decreased dependence on medication, and im-proved emotional wellness. According to the session “Natural Light for All: An Effort to Bring Daylight and Views to Health-care,” presented by architects and design experts at Greenbuild 2012, natural day-light has been proven to have a direct and positive biological impact by helping to modulate a patient’s circadian rhythm to improve alertness and reduce depression. Daylight even increases Vitamin D ab-sorption as well as improves heart health and bone growth. In addition, according to recent re-search by the Center for Health Design, patients who stayed on the brighter side of a hospital, who were exposed to 46 percent higher-intensity sunlight on av-erage, experienced less perceived stress and marginally less pain, took 22 percent less analgesic medication per hour, and had 21 percent lower pain medication costs than their counterparts. With this data in mind, it appears that access to natural daylighting can help healthcare facilities provide a healthier and more efficient patient experience while also benefitting the facility, by al-lowing the hospital to release patients earlier while not sacrificing quality of care. Furthermore, along with operational savings and speeding up patient recovery time, providing access to natural daylight-ing can translate to overall energy savings for the facility. This is especially helpful for hospitals, which are notorious as energy 30 SUMMER 2017 SOLAR TODAY H David City, Nebraska’s Butler County Health Care Center uses Dynamic glass to provide a beautiful and efficient alternative to traditional glass. intensive buildings: they require cooling to adapt to the user’s needs: automatic 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year and manual controls can change the tint no matter where they are located geo-of the glass (see photos) in a matter of graphically due to several factors, includ-minutes. Dynamic glass offers a solution ing medical equipment and bright light-for both energy savings and an improved ing, which both add heat to the space. hospital patient experience. According to the U.S. Department of En-By letting sunlight in on cool days and ergy’s Retrofit Guide blocking it on hot days, for Healthcare Facili-dynamic glass dramat-Dynamic glass offers ically reduces energy ties, “…the Energy Use Intensity of hospitals demand and the need a solution for both and other inpatient for HVAC and can gen-healthcare facilities erate energy savings of energy savings and more than 20 percent. is nearly three times that of typical com-SageGlass is in the pro-mercial buildings.” An an improved hospital cess of conducting re-average U.S. hospital search at a hospital in patient experience. Philadelphia, Pennsyl-uses 31.0 kilowatt-hours of electricity vania to provide addi-and 103,600 Btus of tional insight into how natural gas per square foot annually. In a access to natural daylighting via dynamic typical hospital, lighting, space heating, glass can improve the patient experience and water heating represent about 65 as compared to patients in rooms with percent of total energy use, meaning that low-e glass, without access to optimized energy efficient adjustments to these sys-natural daylighting. tems can result in overall savings. A recent trend in the healthcare indus-This is where dynamic glass can have try is to grade hospitals based on the like-an impact. Dynamic glass is able to tint lihood of a patient incurring an infection Copyright © 2014 American Solar Energy Society. All rights reserved.