Friday, May 04, 2007

Daylighting Buildings Can Thaw Energy Bills

Author: Mark Anderson

Making use of natural light can save up to 75 percent of the energy used for lighting buildings and reduce cooling costs at the same time, but the ages-old practice has yet to gain wide acceptance across building professionals.

Daylighting continues to take the nation's building industry by storm. Federal and state tax breaks, along with a surge in high-performance building certification systems, fused a classic design element into the modern building industry.

Incentives offered through the Energy Policy Act of 2005 allow tax breaks of 60 cents per square foot for new commercial lighting that reduces power use 50 percent beyond 2001 standards. At the same time, a series of benchmarks issued by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) invite innovation based on performance standards for protecting the environment, which in many states, also gain tax credits. Further fueling the movement, a number of studies have repeatedly shown that daylit buildings save money and energy, create better working and learning environments, enhance well-being and coax retail shoppers into pulling out the plastic.

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