7 Sustainable Lighting Techniques For Buildings

Has lighting come across your mind while talking about sustainability? Sustainable lighting design is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient ways to improve the overall sustainability of a building’s design.

Sustainable Lighting Techniques in Architecture

Designing a sustainable building poses its set of challenges. Architects have to consider the energy consumption, material usage, site context, green area, and other factors. Designing sustainably plays a significant role in combatting climate change and is a big responsibility.

These are strategies to optimize the use of artificial lighting fixtures and reduce the need for artificial lighting fixtures:

  1. Right lighting over more lighting
  2. Task lighting
  3. Energy efficient light fixtures
  4. Open layout plan
  5. Points of light shade
  6. Orientation of building
  7. Daylight Openings

Here’s a detailed look into each of the techniques to help better understand them and find the correct way implement them in your design:

1. Right lighting is better than more lighting.

  • When planning the lighting for a space, it helps to identify the strategic locations such that it provides light to most of the space.
  • The light source can be both luminaires(bulbs) or openings such as windows.
  • This helps to minimize the number of light sources in a space, and thus the net energy consumption.

2. Task Lighting

  • The user’s behaviour pattern can be understood to know the need for lighting.
  • A light source just above the study table, or kitchen stovetop, gives light where necessary.
  • The use of unnecessary light is limited with the use of focussed lighting.
  • Some examples of light fixtures are study table lights, dining table pendant lights, and dressing table mirror lights.
Task Lighting in a room as a sustainable lighiting technique

3. Use of Less Energy Consuming Light Fixtures

  • Light fixtures that consume low amounts of energy are always appreciated.
  • These fixtures have a high energy rating, and they are more efficient with low energy consumption levels.
Which lighting fixture or bulb is more sustainable - Comparison of CFL, Incandesant and LED

4. Open Layout Plan

  • A floor plan with minimal walls can bring in more light to all corners of a space.
  • Removing walls that obstruct light helps reduce the need for artificial light sources.
  • An open layout makes the space seem larger and brighter, giving a pleasant feel to the user.
Open Layout Plan lets in more natural light into the building

5. Paints of Light Shade

  • Painting a space with light colours such as eggshell white, and pearl white makes the space brighter.
  • These colours reflect light the most.
Paint shades that reflect the most light in buildings

6. Orientation of Building 

  • Orienting a building in the direction of maximum sunlight is a passive solution. It ensures maximum daylight enters the space.
  • However, a point to be considered is the internal heat gain of the space. Daylight can make a space too hot, thus making users uncomfortable.
Orientation of the building to let in more natural light into the building

 7. Daylight Openings

  • Openings such as windows, clerestory, and louvres can be used.
  • These openings should be designed considering the environmental and site factors, like sun path, rainfall direction, etc.
  • The openings should ensure that maximum sunlight enters without increasing the heat gain.
Daylight openings for winter and summer sun, Use of trombe wall, vent and windows


1. Sanko Headquarters, Istanbul, Turkey

The building will serve as an office space, with a restaurant and auditorium. The designers, RMJM Milano, aim at sustainability by:

  • Adding greenery outside the building to reduce solar radiation 
  • Having a central opening in the atrium to allow natural light
Interior View of the Sanko Headquarters, Istanbul, Turkey
Sanko Headquarters, Istanbul, Turkey

2. ESI Facility, Wisconsin, U.S.A

The facility is an office space for a system integrating corporation. Though the initial costs were high, the cost-saving techniques that work over the life of the building, ensure that the final cost is justified.

  • The building uses light pipes in the interior. These light pipes transport natural light from the outside to the inside.
  • The opening on the outside has a dome or cupola, that collects the natural light. This light is then transmitted through pipes with reflective inner surfaces.
  • The light is then distributed to the interior using a diffuser.
  • The light pipe technology is widely used as it can transmit 80-90% of received sunlight.
Exterior view of the ESI Facility, Wisconsin, USA
ESI Facility, Wisconsin, U.S.A

In environments where artificial light is constantly used, people face health issues as the body’s perception of day and night is disturbed.

Lighting is an aspect of sustainable architecture, that is often overlooked, but is one of the simplest ways toward sustainability. A second thought given to our design today can become a step to a better future. 

Achieving sustainability, as seen above, is not a mammoth task. With just a bit of creativity and innovation, it can be done with ease. 

7 Sustainable Lighting Techniques For Buildings