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Windows are the most common way to admit daylight into a building and they play an important role in green buildings. Their design, size and orientation are key to controlling energy consumption. Daylighting is the practice of placing windows or other openings and reflective surfaces so that during the day natural light provides effective internal lighting. Daylighting reduces the need for electric lighting and thus reduces energy consumption. Particular attention should be given to daylighting while designing a building when the aim is to maximize visual comfort or to reduce energy use.

Window technology continues to develop with the use of high efficency coatings. Low-emissivity or “Low-E” glass has a thin coating, often of metal, on the glass within its airspace that reflects thermal radiation or inhibits its emission reducing heat transfer through the glass. Thermally broken glazing systems, that separate exterior and interior members, reduce thermal conductivty.

A light shelf is an architectural element that enhances the lighting from windows. The light shelf is placed above eye-level, has a high-reflectance upper surface, and is used to reflect daylight onto the ceiling and deeper into building. This design is generally used on the southern side of the building, which is where maximum sunlight is found, and as a result is most effective. Not only do light shelves allow light to penetrate into the building, they are also designed to shade near the windows, due to the overhang of the shelf, and help reduce window glare.


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