Case Study: 5 Ways Verdacity Improved Daylight in School Design

Co-authored by: Kris Callori, Verdacity and LightStanza

Verdacity’s strategy is to implement big moves early, followed by progressively smaller ones that cumulatively result in a cohesive, effective building daylight strategy. This provides the 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.

See 5 examples of how Verdacity used sDA and ASE analysis, powered by LightStanza’s quick and easy-to-use daylight simulation tool, to help their clients make better decisions when designing for daylight in schools.
Hubert Humphrey Elementary School

As Designed: The architect was open to a combination of exterior glazing with interior clerestory.  At first, there was some unevenness in terms of available daylight and glare.

Design Successfully Optimized: After exploring options for glazing at the light well and adding a 3’ horizontal louvre above view glazing, we were able to bounce light deep into the room while avoiding excess glare.

DATA Charter School

As Designed: This project was experiencing issues with excessive glare.  

Design Successfully Optimized: Reduced glare by adding a horizontal shade at 6’ above finish floor, and replacing clerestory glazing with a translucent panel.

NACA School

As Designed: This project had a large span of glass on the west face.  

Design Successfully Optimized: By adding a horizontal light shelf to the architect’s proposed vertical shades, daylight autonomy was maintained and glare was minimized, while still preserving views.

NACA School

As Designed: This project had a large span of glass on the west face.  

Design Successfully Optimized: For this same project, we looked for better glare control by modeling a 25%, 35%, and 50% screen and found that the tighter weave, while a good glare control strategy, substantially reduced daylight autonomy. The 50% screen was too open and resulted in a noncompliant amount of glare, which is reflected in low sDA (overactive blinds).  The 35% screen provided the best balance of sDA and ASE and was what the architect selected for their design. We have found screens to be a very effective daylight shading strategy, but at the cost of views compliance.

DATA Charter School

Design Successfully Optimized: we explored the reflectivity of various surfaces to help inform the architect’s color selections.  The color selection, as well as color location, indeed have a big impact on daylight autonomy. If you compare the effects of adding one dark to maintaining light colors throughout, you can see that SDA is markedly impacted.

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

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