Turn out the lights at noon for Daylight Hour

Pantheon in Rome
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter/ Pantheon

Natural light is free and plentiful and the day is long.

Before electric light became common, most offices were designed to be illuminated with natural light; they had high ceilings, big windows and nobody was too far from one. Going back into history, architects knew how to use and manipulate natural light; they had to for buildings to work. Marcus Agrippa knew this when he built the Pantheon; the rest of us should get Agrippa and learn from him, and celebrate Daylight Hour at noon.

Many buildings today have large windows, often floor to ceiling, because glass boxes are easy to design and build. They are often flooded with natural light, even though the ceiling is full of fluorescent fixtures. You really could probably turn the lights off in many buildings at mid-day and not even notice.


That's why this campaign, Daylight Hour by New York's Building Energy Exchange is so clever and important. I only learned about it from a recent tweet, but it has been going for a few years.

Daylight Hour, coming up on June 22, 2018, is an annual social media campaign organized by the Building Energy Exchange to raise awareness about using natural daylight in lieu of electric lighting in offices. Launched in 2014, this simple and engaging campaign asks offices to turn off non-critical lights in day-lit spaces from noon until 1 pm on the Friday nearest the summer solstice.

It is sort of an inversion of Earth Hour, where people turn out the lights for an hour and celebrate the darkness; the point of this is to demonstrate that, in many cases, artificial light is really not necessary at all.

Many new modern office lighting systems have sensors that adjust the lights according to the amount of daylight coming in, but older systems are wasting a lot of energy. This exercise might be more useful for the landlords and building owners, who might see that an investment in modern lighting could pay off in saved energy pretty quickly.

It's not too late to sign up now at Daylight Hour, and next year we will give a bit more warning; this should be a much bigger deal.

Turn out the lights at noon for Daylight Hour
Natural light is free and plentiful and the day is long.

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