DAYSTAR Brings Natural Sunlight Indoors

ARTHUR, IL: A small company in east-central Illinois is creating a buzz in the world of natural lighting programs for business, industrial, and educational facilities. DayStar Skylight Systems (Arthur, IL) makes high-performance commercial skylights that will enable facility owners and managers to save money, improve efficiency, and increase the overall value of the facility.

With the impending decline of available energy resources and the world demand for consumable fuels outpacing the supply, there is a serious need to begin using renewable energy to help light buildings. Through DayStar Systems’ research and development, they have created a skylight system that not only allows natural light into a building, but also maximizes intensification and diffuses the light into a broad lighting pattern.
Rising energy costs are prompting architects and contractors to consider daylighting for new construction and retrofitting of existing buildings in both the private and public sectors. Many benefits of using free, natural light are fully documented.

Businesses big and small are cutting energy needs and saving money, thanks to natural lighting systems.
Reliance on daylighting programs has prompted Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger REI and many other major retail chains to report—month after month– increased retail sales, electrical energy savings, and better employee morale.

According to Energy Design Resources (EDR), Mission Foods is saving more than $300,000 per year at its new Production Facility in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, by implementing energy-saving procedures. The plethora of skylights provides lots of natural light to the expansive production and packaging areas, making the entire facility more energy-efficient.

Costco, the big box food and merchandise discounter, began adding skylights and daylighting controls to its 200-plus stores about 15 years ago. A typical new Costco store will feature rectangular 4 ft. x 8-ft. skylights over about 5 percent of its 150,000 sq. ft. rooftop. Custom-made daylighting controls via a photosensor in the skylight are integrated into the energy management system, which also employs electric lighting. Store managers can override the daylighting controls if they feel the need for more illumination. According to a 1999 report by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, annual energy savings are expected to be $23,000 per Costco outlet.

For nearly 10 years, The Energy Efficient McDonald’s (TEEM) have been incorporating simple daylighting systems into the company’s new restaurants. The criteria, set in 1997, included energy savings, ease of maintenance and operation, and enhancement of space for customers and workers. Skylights are a key part of the daylighting plan that is saving them 15 to 20 percent in energy costs.

Weaver Leather, a 240-employee manufacturer/wholesaler of leather and nylon products in Mt. Hope, OH, recently moved into a new two-story facility. Myron Stutzman, vice president of manufacturing and fulfillment, says his workers in the 30,000 sq. ft. top level need the best possible light to stitch and trim sewing thread. Stutzman said after the contractor installed seven DayStar skylights, workers expressed how much easier it was to do their job.

Jim Weaver, manufacturing manager, agreed. “The DayStar skylights created a whole new atmosphere,” he said. “I wish we had them in our home.”

Besides saving energy costs, natural lighting provides a safety factor. Stutzman explained: “Whenever we have a power outage or lights start flickering from a storm, we can still see to do our work.”

During daytime hours, even on the cloudiest of days, DayStar skylights can reduce or eliminate electric light usage and its associated costs. DayStar’s brilliant, natural lighting optimizes the most powerful source of energy available – free sunlight – to provide substantial long-term energy savings for building operators. Because the skylight’s superior illumination power allows buildings to be operated during daytime hours without using electric lights, energy costs can be potentially cut by as much as 50%. In addition to significantly reducing electric light usage, DayStar skylights also decrease air-cooling heat loads created by artificial lighting, thus reducing the building structure’s overall energy costs for lighting and cooling.

Independent grocer Levi Beachy, owner of Beachy’s Bulk Foods in Arthur Illinois, increased customer traffic, overall sales and the amount of individual purchases when he moved from a small, poorly lighted outlet to a 6,000 sq. ft. store illuminated with a dozen DayStar skylights. “As a store owner, I have employees, inventory and other things to worry about,” Beachy said. “The one thing I don’t worry about is my lighting systems. Every morning when I come to work, the skylights are on.”

By using a skylight system, budget-strapped schools can save money on energy costs and improve test scores and attendance.

Like businesses, schools are cutting energy costs through daylighting. According to an April 7, 2004, report by, in most school districts the cost of energy is second only to salaries. Most schools spend more on energy than they do on books and supplies. School energy costs that average $100 per student per year can fall to $50 per student per year when effective design solutions are put into use.

In North Carolina, three school buildings were designed for daylighting to replace artificial lighting about 60 percent of the time. An automatic control shuts off or turns on auxiliary lighting as ambient light increases or decreases. During the first year of operation, the elementary school used about half the energy of a comparable elementary school that did not have natural lighting. The projected savings was $37,000.

In Muskegon, MI, the Intermediate School District moved its Career Tech Center to a new building containing 10 DayStar skylights in 4 ft. x 4 ft. size. Principal Mike Carpenter said the center was constructed with total energy conservation in mind. Although he has no baseline from which to compare dollar savings, Carpenter said he is amazed by the amount of light the DayStar units maintain. “On bright days, the panels are like looking at the sun,” he said, “and they provide plenty of light on cloudy days, too. Even at night they retain some illuminating properties. We couldn’t be happier with them.”

Besides saving money, daylighting can reduce student absenteeism by several days each year. According to the Collaborative for High Performing Schools (CHPS), a district that posts an increase in average daily attendance of only 1.75 percent could pay back an investment of $4 per square foot on energy efficiency improvements in only two years. The study assumes a limit rate of $4,300 on annual school revenues and is based directly on average daily attendance for a 500-student school.

Reading and math test scores for elementary students in grades two through five showed a direct correlation to the amount of daylight admitted into school classrooms. The California Board for Energy Efficiency reported that Capistrano School District students with the most daylighting progressed 20 percent faster on math tests and 26 percent faster on reading tests in one year over students with the least amount of daylighting. The improvements were cited after correcting for other influences.

With respect to skylights alone, students improved 19 to 20 percent faster when daylight was diffused through a well-designed skylight, one in which teachers could control the amount of ambient light allowed to enter.

Similar studies in Seattle, WA, and Fort Collins, CO, documented 7 to 18 percent higher final scores at year-end for students provided with the most daylighting over those with the least.

“Green” construction projects, which include the use of natural energy such as daylighting, may qualify for tax breaks and special loans while helping the environment.

Both social and financial benefits can result from applying environmentally-friendly strategies to new building construction. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (U.S. Dept. of Energy:, 35 states currently offer tax incentives for green construction. The incentives fall into one or more tax categories: income, corporate, property and sales. One state, Massachusetts, offers tax breaks in all four categories.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 loan program has raised the 2005-06 limits to $1.5 million for general businesses, up to $2 million for women- and minority-owned businesses, and up to $4 million for manufacturers. The loans carry low, fixed-interest rates and can be used for the purchase of equipment, construction, renovation or acquisition of land. Green projects often qualify.

With rolling blackouts still fresh in memory, California has taken the national lead on energy conservation incentives and mandates. Amendments to state requirements of Title 24, which are being implemented in 2005, have reduced the amount of energy that office buildings may use for lighting. As energy costs continue to rise, other states may follow California’s pro-active lead.

Because DayStar solely uses the renewable energy of sunlight, the skylight system is the ultimate electric light alternative for green construction projects. Buildings utilizing the DayStar skylight can experience superior illumination as well as reduce the global demand for fossil fuel energy and its harmful emissions.

A business or industrial facility can increase its market value by installing energy-efficient daylighting systems.

A commercial building’s value is determined by net operating income. Reducing operating expenses, by making a building more energy efficient through the use of daylighting, increases the net operating income and, thus, makes the building more valuable.

According to the Lighting Resource Center (LRC), the value of office rental space can fall by 10 to 20 percent with the complete absence of daylight. In a Daylight Dividends report, the LRC states that “daylight has a symbolic and status-creating role in architecture, and its presence or absence may influence the renting decisions of prestige tenants.”

Functioning skylight systems enhance the overall worth of a facility. Value can increase further if the facility meets an environmental accreditation program such as LEED, which strongly supports daylight admission.

Natural lighting is destined for unprecedented growth as energy costs rise. Because DayStar skylights are state-of-the-art, the company is in the right industry at the right time.

Mother Nature got it right: In both intensity and quality, natural light is superior to artificial light. The brightness of light is measured in units called lux. A sunny summer day generates about 80,000 lux; a cloudy winter day in Alaska yields about 10,000 lux. By contrast, the brightest indoor light produces about 4,000 lux or 5 percent of a sunny day. This is the reason that artificial light levels are not sufficient for tasks such as extended periods of reading.

Although a relatively new company, DayStar Skylight Systems has taken natural lighting technology to new levels. For example, the roof domes feature two layers—a clear, acrylic outer dome and an inner collimation lens to minimize heat loss in winter and protect from heat gain in summer. Galvalume steel roof curbs have continuously welded, watertight seams and are made to match any roof pitch and metal rib design.

DayStar standard and custom-built light shafts maximize daylight in any building’s space. The light shaft uses a super-insulated sandwich panel with a highly reflective interior coupled to a special ceiling lens.

Here is how it works: Sunlight is gathered through the inverted parabolic dome and the rays are amplified by the ultra-reflective lining as they strike the ceiling lens. This highly concentrated light is then diffused in a heart-shaped pattern by additional sidelight panels, which increase the spread of light far beyond conventional products. Thus, even on cloudy days, DayStar skylights provide ample lighting for almost any facility.

One innovative 4 ft. x 4 ft. DayStar skylight will illuminate 500 square feet of space for retail sales, office and school environments, manufacturing and other workplaces. Warehouses and other storage facilities may need only one skylight for every 1,000 square feet or more. DayStar consultants can advise.

The Moultrie County (Illinois) Beacon is a non-profit agency that helps people with disabilities. The contractor who expanded the agency’s facility installed a pair of 2 ft. x 2 ft. DayStar skylights to a dark interconnecting hallway and two 4 ft. x 4ft. DayStar units to the new kitchen area.

“These skylights are unbelievable,” said Beacon spokeswoman Susan Rauch. “They don’t look like skylights, and the ceiling panels provide soft light without glare. We’re saving money because we don’t use fluorescent lights anymore.”

Rauch said a planned 60 ft. x 40 ft. warehouse will make exclusive use of DayStar Skylight Systems. “Our county is building a new jail,” Rauch added. “I’m trying to convince the project engineers to put daylighting units in there, too.DayStar is a complete skylighting system ready for installation.

Contractors and builders, architects and engineers no longer have to shop around for skylighting components. DayStar produces complete skylighting packages including roof domes, curbs, flash kits, rib caps, light shafts and ceiling lens. Nearly 150 curb styles and sizes are standard inventory. The company also custom manufactures to specifications.

The commercial skylights come in 4 ft. x 4 ft., 2 ft. x 4 ft., and 2 ft. x 2 ft. sizes. The standard skylights fit shingle, metal or membrane commercial roofs with pitches from 0/12 to 12/12. DayStar skylights come with a fully illustrated installation manual. CAD shop drawings and architectural design drawings are also available on a CD.

The retail price of a DayStar standard 4 ft. x 4 ft. skylight is $1,050, which can be cost-liquidated in one to five years.

Excellent quality control and superior materials and workmanship have allowed owner Kenneth Schlabach to offer lifetime warranties on DayStar roof domes and 25-year warranties on light shaft reflective surfaces.

Consequentially, not only are DayStar skylights the most efficient source for brilliant natural light, they are also excellent investments. The skylights typically have a 3-5 year payback, and coupled with the energy savings, the DayStar Skylight System is a sound investment that is built on solid returns.

With green construction on the rise, DayStar skylighting systems can help architects, contractors, and developers create and build more energy-efficient and valuable structures.

For more information on DayStar, contact Kenneth Schlabach, DayStar Skylight Systems, at 618-426-1868 toll-free at 1-866-7-DAYSTAR.

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