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Natural Daylighting Benefits Building Occupants

How Natural Daylighting Benefits Building Occupants

Natural Daylighting benefits building occupants. Fire rated glass allows for benefits of natural daylighting. Studies show students in classrooms with natural daylighting tested better, and patients in rooms with daylighting fare better. This reprinted article first appeared in US Glass Metal & Glazing in August 2011.

Protective Windows for Productive Occupants

The San Juan Capistrano school district must be doing something right. Students in one study of the California-based district progressed 20-percent faster on math tests and 26-percent faster on reading tests in just one year than those in a control group. The difference? Daylighting.

Studies have shown that natural light can be beneficial to building occupants. A landmark “Daylighting in Schools” study sponsored by PG&E more than a decade ago found that end-of-year scores were 7- to 18-percent higher for students in classrooms with daylighting than in those without.

Hospitals benefit, too, from daylighting. Robert Ulrich’s study, “View through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery,” published in Science in 1984, concluded that surgical patients assigned to rooms with windows allowing lots of natural light had shorter postoperative hospital stays, received fewer negative evaluative comments in nurses’ notes and took fewer potent analegesics than 23 matched patients in similar rooms with windows facing a brick wall.

In projects such as these, the extra security could prove a barrier to using glass throughout. In these cases, fire-rated glass ensured that building occupants benefited all around. Fire protection requirements traditionally have made it more difficult to achieve daylighting goals. This is no longer true as today’s innovative institutional and educational projects have found a way to achieve both.

UC Davis Medical Center Surgery and Emergency Services Pavilion

The $3,000,000 University of California Davis Medical Center Surgery and Emergency Services Pavilion project was the result of a dual effort to expand an aged, undersized facility and to comply with Senate Bill 1953, which requires hospitals that have Structural Performance Category 1 (SPC-1) buildings (those that are considered hazardous and at risk of collapse or significant loss of life in the event of an earthquake) must be replaced or retrofitted to higher seismic safety standards by 2013.

Central to Stantec Architects’ design was a large skylight that allows natural light to vertically flow into the atrium area and other light wells throughout the building. However, the architects also wanted to let light flow horizontally into the adjacent hallways and rooms.

Because the walls in the atrium and light wells have to meet a 2-hour rating, Stantec Architects approached fire-rated glass supplier SAFTI FIRST for a solution.

To maximize as much natural light as possible, large portions of the 2-hour atrium and light well walls were made “transparent” with the use of SuperLite II-XL 120 in GPX framing. In addition, the doors were made with SuperLite II-XL 90 in GPX framing to match the transparency of the walls.

The architect also wanted to make sure that the fire-rated systems matched the look of the non-fire-rated systems in the exterior. This was made possible by ensuring that the GPX framing used in the interior fire-rated systems had the same profile and clear anodized finish as the exterior non-fire-rated systems.

In addition, the patient waiting rooms also had a lot of fire-rated glass to provide a feeling of openness and help ease anxieties as patients wait to be seen. Full vision 90-minute double egress doors were provided in the triage area to add to that openness. And to help calm patients, the architects provided a prayer/reflection area. By using fire-rated decorative art glass, the architect was still able to keep the artistic vision that he had for this space and still meet the fire-rated requirements.

SAFTI FIRST also worked closely with the glazing contractor, Best Roofing and Contracting, to make sure that the installation and delivery of the materials went smoothly. Jeremy Henderson, SAFTI FIRST’s GPX supervisor, visited the jobsite several times to demonstrate how the system is installed and to answer questions from the subcontractor.

More than 20,000 square feet of fire-resistive glazing and framing for this project makes the project one of the largest installations of fire-resistive glazing systems in North America to date.


Do you have a current or upcoming project that needs fire rated glass and framing? Contact us today!