Congratulations ICON Solar House Lighting Team

Photo credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Advisor Jonee Kulman Brigham reports on the first rate ICON Solar House lighting design.

This morning, the DOE announced that University of Minnesota had won the lighting design competition which considers "designing functional, energy-efficient, and aesthetically pleasing lighting systems"  - both for daylighting and electric lighting.  Scoring 72 out of 75 possible points, the team was complemented on the simple controls, use of daylighting, black-out shades, electrochromic glass shading, extensive use of solid state LED lights, the east porch lighting, the appearance of the lit house at night, and for creating a lighting design that worked with the ventilation system and climate.

Rose Lin, co-leader for the interior design team in charge of lighting collaborated with Joe Messier, student commissioning leader on integrating electric lighting and shading with the daylighting approach. Joe modeled the integrated result in both daytime and night lighting mode in a 3D rendering program to help the team refine the lighting scheme. Professional lighting and daylighting experts contributed advice through a series of design reviews and meetings.

The team chose a selective and strategic approach. According to the project manual, "The ICON House is designed with features that offer maximum efficiency of light around the house, interior and exterior, natural and artificial. Integration of technology and sustainability is balanced with traditional lighting strategies by using electric lighting with a clearly defined purpose, and selective use of daylight to enhance areas within the home. As a result of the selectivity, the entire electric lighting budget is under 500 watts for both interior and exterior." That last point was illustrated by a vase of five, 100-watt incandescent bulbs that was displayed for visitors in order to make the savings more tangible.
lighting2Blog.jpgPhoto credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

The choice of lighting sources points a new way forward. A U.S. Lighting Market Characterization Report prepared for the EPA in 2002 found that average residential lighting use consisted of 91% incandescent lamps, 9% fluorescents, and a negligible amount of LEDs. The ICON Solar House shows that warm, familiar and pleasing lighting design can come from a majority of LEDs, a few fluorescents, with no need for incandescents.

The ICON Solar House also illustrates that strategic placement and shading of windows can result in daylighting that reinforces the functionality and mood of various places in the home. The narrative by Rose and Joe in the manual states, "Along this east west axis a variety of daylighting approaches are taken from dramatic to tranquil, creating three zones that reflect the living activities within each zone." The kitchen area is filled with light in the morning from the large east windows that visually connect it to the dining area on the porch. If the light becomes too much, the electro chromic glass can be set to tint, reducing glare and solar gain, while retaining view. In the central dining area, large south windows capture moving sun angles and views of the south deck. In the living and workstation areas to the west, north clerestories and a modest sized west window, limit solar gain and glare while providing ample indirect north light for the more tranquil activities of reading, watching movies, or working at the computer. Low window openings at the south and high north clerestory window openings enhance natural ventilation.