Getting to grips with daylighting

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Gary Dean of OnLevel UK explores the importance of daylighting in building design and the benefits of specifying glass clamps to help facilitate it

Ensuring your home, workplace or recreational space maximises the use of natural light is fast becoming an integral part of building design. The wellbeing benefits of natural light are compelling, from boosting your vitamin D, helping to ward off seasonal depression, and improving sleep, while natural sunlight boosts energy and strengthens organs. Natural sunlight is also economical and sustainable. By increasing a building’s exposure to the sun with effective design and space planning, it can create a cost-effective, light filled sustainable building.

At the end of 2018 the British Standard EN 17037:2018 was released. Relating to daylight in buildings, the standard encourages designers to assess daylit spaces in buildings and ensure they’re successful. It allows building designers and developers to focus on a building’s daylighting objectives, as well as tackle other issues related to daylight design, such as views out, protection against glare, and exposure to sunlight. The document gives information on how to use daylighting to provide lighting within interiors, and how to limit glare. It defines metrics to be used for the evaluation of daylighting conditions and gives principles of calculation and verification.

Fundamentally daylighting is the practice of efficient design; the positioning of windows, skylights, and reflective surfaces to allow the flow and capture of sunlight within a building, so that sunlight can provide effective internal lighting, reduce the use of artificial light and harness thermal capability to ensure energy savings.

As well as being perfect for creating daylit spaces, glass maximises efficiency due to its capacity to ‘trap’ sunlight for thermal gain. Furthermore, the structural benefits of glass provide building designers with the opportunity to create large expanses of sunlight-filled interiors and greater ability to capture and flow natural light in and around building spaces.

In addition to natural light in building design improving occupant wellbeing, it reduces artificial light and electricity use – which benefits both the building owner financially, and the wider environment.

Glass fixtures and fittings play a big part in ensuring effective daylighting in buildings, specifically glass balustrades and Juliet balconies. Frameless glass balustrades are particularly well suited due to the ‘all glass’ look and the minimal ‘frame’ (fixing channel). Likewise, more traditional glass clamp balustrading, commonly used upon staircases in atriums and hallways to maximise the flow of natural light to create light filled spaces.

The popularity of glass clamps in a changing marketplace

The growth in popularity of glass clamps has flourished in recent times due to the aesthetic benefits of glass and minimal hardware. Specifically, the sense of space, light and air that glass provides mean glass railings and balustrades are a common site in towns and cities across the UK.

There are many benefits to using a glass balustrade with glass clamps, including the visual benefits gained through the use of large panels of glass with clamps to create the ‘all glass’ look. A glass clamp balustrade can make any interior or exterior space look bright and airy.

Toughened glass and metal glass clamps are tremendously tough and durable. When used in combination to create balustrading, the end result is a safe and secure barrier or screening. British Standards 6180:2011 gives guidance and recommendations for the construction of railings and balustrades.

Important criteria include the material selection for the balustrades; the specified height that balustrades are to be constructed to, the various loadings that balustrades are meant to withstand, and the application or use of the balustrades and how this affects the design.

Additionally, glass clamp balustrades are very easy to clean and maintain. A simple lint-free cloth and a good glass cleaner is all you’ll need to keep your glass balustrade looking new.

Alternative designs

The majority of the glass clamps on the market are similar in design, both mechanically and aesthetically. An L-shaped bracket that can be screwed into the post and base rail, and a double-sided rubber insert that holds the glass panel in place, with a plate to complete the clamp. The clamps are typically square, rectangular or rounded ‘D’ shape in style, with a flat or radius back depending on the profile of the surface the clamp is being fixed to.

OnLevel recently launched ‘Kronos’, which was developed to be the world’s first adjustable clamp. To complement a broad range of interior spaces and applications, the clamp is available in a range of finishes. Due to its ‘one piece’ design, the product provides a cost-effective alternative to traditional glass clamp design.

Gary Dean is managing director at OnLevel