People love natural light. Subconsciously, unknowingly, we seek out sunlit places and enjoy spending time in natural light. Beyond this desire, however, are some tangible benefits to adding natural daylighting into buildings.
Studies have proven daylighting makes employees more comfortable and productive. Reduced absenteeism, employee satisfaction and higher productivity are all bottom line benefits from the use of natural daylighting. An increase of just 1% in productivity provides enough financial savings to a company to pay their entire energy bill.
In a jointly published study, Greening the Building and the Bottom Line: Increasing Productivity Through Energy-Efficient Design, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Rocky Mountain Institute describes these benefits in greater detail. This study provides numerous case studies of documented proof of the effects of natural light.
Wal-Mart (to your surprise) has discovered great value in natural daylight. Beyond the energy savings, Wal-Mart discovered an additional benefit. In their Lawrence, Kansas store, they found (possibly by accident) sales in the daylit portion were twice that of the artificially lit portion. They also found the cash registers that extended under the daylit portion rang in twice as many sales as the artificially lit ones. More information is available on the Wal-Mart Web site.
Of course, simply adding windows to a building is not enough, light brings with it potential heat and glare. A good architect knows how to control, diffuse and use light to create a healthy and comfortable indoor environment.