Image credit Lloyd Alter
When I wrote about what I was hoping to see at Greenbuild this year, I noted that I was not interested in the latest green gizmos and tech, but in simple, effective ways of solving our problems. I used as an example one of my favourite materials from the 19th century, prism glass, that diverted natural light deep into buildings- a low-tech way of moving light instead of making it.
And what did I find at Greenbuild that has me so excited that it gets my vote for best of show? Prism Plastic from Prismaplex.
Image credit: Glassian.org
In 1897 the Luxfer Company introduced the Luxfer Prism glass, made at a wide range of different angles for different latitudes and purposes, that would bring natural light deep into stores and offices. Now buildings could be deeper, stores could be brighter, and buildings sprouted bands of translucent panels of small panes above their picture windows.
Here you see a section of how it worked then. Now comes Prismaplex: They cut it out of acrylic at whatever angle you want as well. It is a form of linear fresnel lens that bends light and sends it where you want it.
They are using it right now in a different way, making vertical and horizontal blinds that diffuse light.
They are also applying it to skylights, putting a prismatic cone inside the skylight that blocks UV rays but directs and spreads they light below. But there is no reason that the material could be installed in the same way that traditional prism glass was, aiming light deep into buildings or up against ceilings like light shelves do.
Perhaps I am waxing overenthusiastic over a piece of plastic. But it is the kind of simple, effective alternative that can make a difference. More at Prismaflex.
More on moving light:
Landmarks Not Landfill: Prism Glass