COVID-19 & daylighting


The sun is no friend to COVID-19. One reason is that high levels of vitamin D (which comes with sunlight) are associated with less severe respiratory impacts from the disease. Another: The virus itself, like other pathogens, appears not to survive as long in sunlight.

There’s nothing new about the idea that sunlight can inactivate viral pathogens. But the pandemic has prompted more research specifically on sunlight and coronavirus.

Conveniently, the Living Building Challenge’s Health & Happiness Petal requires “views outside and daylight for 75 percent of occupants.”

Advances in window quality have reduced the energy penalty paid by buildings that have lots of glazing. Even the most efficient window units still can’t compare to wall systems when it comes to a tight building envelop; at the same time, strategically placed fenestration can cut down on electricity dedicated to lighting. Among other advantages, daylight also has been associated in numerous studies with improving building occupants’ moods as well as their cognitive function.

The photo above shows floor to ceiling windows and accordion doors on the first floor of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech near the end of construction in 2019.

— Ken Edelstein

This post is part of a series on “Nine COVID-combating features in a Living Building.” Click here to view the main article.


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