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How Verdacity Applies Climate Based Modeling for Better Daylight Design

Co-authored by: Kris Callori, Verdacity and LightStanza

Verdacity is a building sustainability consultancy headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico that informs the design of high performance buildings.  They use an integrative approach in all of their company service areas, starting with the discovery phase, then moving towards more detailed evaluations, and finally affirming design selections for LEED certification or to demonstrate compliance with other sustainability metrics.

Implement Big Moves Early and Refine as You Go

Kris Callori, who founded Verdacity, notes that the best strategy is “to implement big moves early, followed by progressively smaller ones that cumulatively result in a cohesive, effective building daylight strategy.  This provides maximum opportunity to gain LEED points.”

Verdacity integrates their methods with the typical architectural design process and conducts studies to inform building orientation, form, and mass to glass ratios, along with more detailed decisions such as glazing specifications and finish types. Their studies typically include sDA (Spatial Daylight Autonomy) and ASE (Annual Sunlight Exposure) to help ensure that a good balance of daylight and occupant comfort can be met.

Evaluate Daylight at Each Phase

A well-designed methodology, like the one Verdacity follows, means evaluating daylight at each phase of the design strategy.

Here’s a more in-depth look into their process:

Conceptual Design Phase

Step 1: Determine Daylight Availability

  • Evaluate contextual conditions such as the height and proximity of adjacent buildings
  • Explore orientation and shape and their effect on daylight harvesting  
  • Discuss internal room location and layout with the design team to optimize spaces to receive the maximum amount of daylight.   
  • Run sDA analysis using LightStanza (modified to include no blinds) to identify maximum daylight potential

Step 2: Determine General Glare Conditions

  • If glazing is proposed, what type, amount and location?
  • Are there any constraints regarding security or maintenance?  
  • If glazing is not yet proposed, general rules of thumb can be used based upon design aesthetic and what we know about success at our latitude and climate

Step 3: Explore Glare Mitigation Measures

  • After glare diagrams are evaluated, measures to mitigate glare can be explored

50% Design Phase

Step 4: Targeted approach at 50% design phase offers more opportunities to explore ideas

  • Identify what design updates have occurred, update model for interior glazing, ceiling types, finishes or wall thickness.
  • Run analysis in LightStanza (at full LEED compliance conditions) to see where excess glare is present and explore design ideas to reduce this.
  • Ensure daylight availability still meets min requirements

Final Design Phase

Step 5: Final analysis

  • Once construction documents are complete, update model with any changes, and finalize material parameters.  
  • Verify that all spaces have been classified appropriately for regularly occupied vs. non-occupied spaces.
  • Run the final analysis in Lightstanza to prepare the documentation required for the LEED submittal.

See a case study for a glimpse of this process in action!


This content was originally presented at the 2018 Greenbuild Conference in Chicago, IL. An excerpt of the slides can be found here.

About Verdacity

Verdacity is a sustainability consulting firm that helps bring high-performance buildings to life through innovative approaches to energy, water, and resource conservation, as well as interventions that support occupant wellness. Verdacity’s extensive portfolio features many firsts in green building history (including the first LEED certified building in New Mexico) and groundbreaking implementation of the latest social, health, and building science frameworks. More information can be found at www.verdacity.com.