Soft, Diffused Natural Light Transforms Eagles Nest Outfitters’ Office

VMS Northlights bathe the design and sales work areas in diffused natural light. Photos: VELUX

For years the staff of Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) worked in cramped, dark offices in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. Their second office didn’t even have any windows, which isn’t ideal for an outdoor equipment company specializing in portable hammocks and camp chairs.

So, when it came time to move from downtown to a location that could accommodate both the office and a warehouse, the company’s leaders challenged architects to connect the new space to the outside.

“We’re an outdoor company, and we’d all rather be outdoors each and every day,” says Lane Nakaji, general manager with ENO. “No one wants to work in darkness.”

Challenge: Opening Up a 1970s Building

The new building was at first not very promising. Located in a business park with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it dated back to the 1970s with a red brick exterior and a cedar shake mansard roof.

“It was a rabbit warren of an office,” says Charles Krekelberg, the project manager on the ENO project for Samsel Architects. “They had perimeter windows behind arbor vitae trees, so it was oppressively dark.”

“They wanted to radically transform the space,” Krekelberg adds. “They wanted open spaces for people to collaborate, planters and natural light.”

The building was gutted down to the exterior walls and a new roof constructed. Inside, the maze of hallways and offices became open space. And to solve the lighting problem, architects turned to two VELUX products: VELUX Modular Skylights (VMS) – Northlight Configuration and Fixed Curb Mounted skylights.

The VELUX Modular Skylight system eliminates the need for on-site glazing and can be installed quickly in varying weather conditions, which for this project included freezing rain and snow.

Ridgelights 25-40° have the classic A-frame look: two rows of self-supporting skylights mounted on standard steel profiles. The skylight installer, JP Ross & Co., installed 320 Ridgelight modules on the Burkert building configured into four rows over the center of the manufacturing space.

“We only turn the lights on when it’s raining or very cloudy,” says Allison Ettinger, ENO’s credit manager. “Natural light is generally more relaxing. It’s definitely softer than turning on the electric lights.”

The skylight units are all fixed with dimensions of 39.4 inches in width by 47.2 inches in height and high-efficiency glazing. The LowE3, argon-filled dual paned glazing assembly consists of a high-strength outer tempered pane and an inner laminated pane. The system is equipped with electrically controlled shades, which employees say are only drawn on weekends to optimize the building’s energy efficiency.

The office also has nine VELUX Fixed Curb Mount skylights (FCM 2246) with LowE3, laminated glazing and solar-powered remote controlled shades installed over offices, hallways and conference rooms. The building is topped by a 24-gauge standing seam metal roof system manufactured by Englert Inc., which was installed by DLV Roofing.

Quick Installation

Like other VMS configurations, the Northlight system arrives on the jobsite palletized for easy staging. Its plug-and-play installation method takes less time than custom, site-glazed skylights. It took the crew from JP Ross & Co. one week to complete the installation.

“We focus only on skylight design, sales and installation and have over 20 years of experience,” notes Jason Peterson, project manager with JP Ross &Co. “The only difference with the Northlight was that the panels were installed vertically.”

A vapor barrier wraps around the skylight modules and lines the interior roof rough opening for an airtight seal between the skylight modules and the building, creating a very energy-efficient building envelope.

Natural light bathes the sales department and product development area throughout the day, and employees are happy to have it. “When we don’t have that glare from artificial lights, it creates a calm,” says Julia Schell, manager of e-commerce at ENO. “Things get hectic round here. Sometimes when we come in after the weekend and the blinds have been closed, we forget and turn the lights on and it’s like ‘What’s wrong?’”

The Northlights also give the building’s exterior a unique look. “The owner wanted the skylights to be as much of an exterior expression of the design as an interior lighting device,” Krekelberg says. “They truly liked the look of the skylights and wanted them on the roof.”

TEAM

Architecture/Design: Samsel Architects, Asheville, North Carolina, https://samselarchitects.com

General Contractor: Heritage Restoration & Construction, Asheville, North Carolina, www.heritage-restoration.com

Roofing Contractor: DLV Roofing, Asheville, North Carolina, www.dlvroofing.com

Skylight Installer: JP Ross & Co., Charlotte, North Carolina, www.jprossskylights.com

MATERIALS

Skylights: VELUX Modular Skylight system – Northlight Configuration and Fixed Curb Mounted skylights, VELUX, www.veluxusa.com

Metal Roof: 24-gauge mechanically fastened standing seam roof system in Charcoal Gray, Englert Inc., www.englertinc.com

Industrial Skylights With Capped System Meet Code Requirements

ICC-ES Evaluation Reports provide a basis for using or approving industrial skylights in construction projects.

ICC-ES Evaluation Reports provide a basis for using or approving industrial skylights in construction projects.

Using ICC-ES code compliant industrial skylights is an effective way to insure performance and rooftop safety for any roof or re-roofing project.
 
What sets an industrial skylight apart from other skylights? SKYCO Skylights believes using quality material and innovative designs when building natural lighting products is going to continue to set them apart from other manufacturers.
 
The skylight manufacturer commits to building its industrial skylights with a capped system, polycarbonate dome and proprietary wave design to ensure performance and durability. Capped industrial skylight systems are known for eliminating the common cracking that occurs in the domes of a capless system.
 
Code compliance for skylight manufacturers is an important accreditation to achieve. When specifying a skylight for construction or re-roofing it’s paramount for the architects and roofers/contractors to be sure they are using code compliant skylight models.
 
It is important that if the skylight is not a capped system then issues of code compliance come into play. Currently, there are no registered capless units that comply with ICC code requirements. In some cases, capless units have been misrepresented as ICC-ES listed when they in fact aren’t. A simple process to ensure compliance is requesting the ESR Number (SKYCO Skylights ESR is 3837) and conducting a google search. The skylight details should align with all the features listed to that number.
 
Industrial Skylights, manufactured by SKYCO Skylights have an evaluation report ESR#3837 from ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES), providing evidence that SKYCO Skylights industrial skylight, as a curb mounted, self-flashing and with a Vortex louvered curb, meets code requirements. Building officials, architects, contractors, specifiers, designers and others utilize ICC-ES Evaluation Reports to provide a basis for using or approving industrial skylights in construction projects under the International Building Code (IBC).

Daylighting Can Create Significant Energy Savings and Human Benefits

Daylighting is the practice of placing skylights or windows on a building so during the day, natural light provides effective internal lighting. This strategy allows natural sunlight to illuminate the interior space of a building without the need to rely exclusively on electrical lighting during the day. Electrical lighting can account for as much as 40 percent of power consumption in many commercial buildings, meaning reducing such loads can significantly lower energy usage. One means to lowering energy use is to install prismatic skylights and light tubes to increase natural daylighting. Although there are many myths surrounding skylights, evidence shows they not only improve energy efficiency, they also provide multiple benefits to people living and working within daylit facilities.

Prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Skylight Types

There are a number of different skylight categories on the market today, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Prismatic skylights are the most widely used because they allow for the most diffused and evenly distributed light. Other, non-diffused skylights can create hotspots within the building and tend to have poor U-values with high solar-heat-gain coefficients that decrease the thermal efficiency of the skylight. Skylight spacing should be 1 1/2 times the distance from the floor to the underside of the roof. (To learn more, read “Modular Skylight Systems: Best Practices for Designing Skylights with Suspended Ceilings”.

The materials used for skylights also vary. Polycarbonates have the best impact resistance and are the most hurricane and burglar proof. Some acrylic diffusers can yellow with age. Lastly, glass skylights are commonly used in residential applications and large, custom jobs that vary widely depending upon the customer’s specifications.

Different skylight manufacturers offer various alternative designs to achieve improved daylighting. One such alternate design is a tubular skylight or “light pipe”. Tubular designs are great for drop ceilings, because the tube reflects light down through a diffuser at the bottom of the fixture and ends up looking just like a normal lighting fixture on the interior of the building.

Saving Money

Although skylights can be installed at any time on a flat or steep-slope roof, significant savings can be realized when you install skylights during reroofing. The cost of installation decreases because manpower is already onsite, safety is in place, and there is significant reduction in overall time and labor leading to more cost-efficiency. With larger skylights, installations can be spread out over the roof and, ultimately, that saves money, as well.

By leveraging relationships with skylight manufacturers and lighting controllers’ manufacturers, roofing contractors may be able to access additional skylight models, better pricing and longer-term warranties.

To maximize the benefits of a daylighting strategy, the building owner should consider combining new skylights with new interior lighting controls. Photo-sensor technology incorporated with skylights can further conserve energy by actively sensing when artificial lighting is not needed.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs.

Daylighting Benefits

Environmentally, daylighting reduces the load on power plants, lowers greenhouse-gas emissions and lessens air and water pollution resulting from byproducts of electricity generation. The payback for energy savings and reduction of electricity is typically one to two years. For customers seeking to achieve LEED certification, a green-building program administered by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council, daylighting is another green solution. Skylights can contribute to a number of LEED credits by optimizing energy performance, using recycled materials, and increasing daylight and views.

One of the most documented outcomes of increasing natural daylighting is an aesthetically pleasing environment in which to live, work and interact that improves productivity and personal satisfaction while decreasing energy costs associated with maintaining that facility. A reduction in energy costs and increase in productivity for manufacturing and office environments mean the payback period on daylighting investments can be relatively short. Schools also experience improved test scores. Hospitals see speedier recovery times and retail stores see an increase in sales all linked to increased daylighting. Daylighting can add to the value of a building, and daylit stores see an average of 5.5 percent increase in sales relative to stores without daylighting, according to “Daylight & Retail Sales”, a California Energy Commission report.

Daylighting Myths

The old-school thinking about day-lighting is that it is expensive and increases the chance of roof leaks around the skylights. Some building maintenance staff members do not want to deal with skylights. However, once a sample prismatic skylight is installed, the same maintenance staff usually becomes enthusiastic about the new lighting source. As for roof leaks, prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Another myth is that with natural sunlight from the skylights, the building will be too hot. That’s not true because there is a reflective lens on top and an opaque lens on bottom. Light is brought in from all different angles and mitigates heat transfer into the building.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs. Once the CentiMark Corp. team installs a sample skylight on a roof, our customers typically get really excited and the interest level increases. Customers then rethink skylights and the lighting inside their buildings.

PHOTOS: Centimark Corp.

Translucent Roofing Material Mechanically Locks Together

Plazit-Polygal has launched Topgal, a modular range of translucent roofing material that is suitable for any building requiring natural light.

Plazit-Polygal has launched Topgal, a modular range of translucent roofing material that is suitable for any building requiring natural light.

Plazit-Polygal has launched Topgal, a modular range of translucent roofing material that is suitable for any building requiring natural light. Produced in five colors—clear, bronze, ice, blue and polyshade silver—delivering different levels of light transmission, the Topgal sheets come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. The weather-resistant panels are linked together with easy-to-fit connectors that create a mechanical lock between the sheets, ensuring strength and making the panels watertight. Fixture points are hidden and the sheets can be flexed to suit any type of structure. In addition to the standard colors, Plazit-Polygal can tailor special colors and solar-radiation levels.