What You Need to Know Before Installing a Skylight

The beauty of skylights can be a real benefit to the aesthetic value of a metal building project. Beyond looks, though, the proven benefits of daylighting are many: building occupant satisfaction from natural lighting, mold and mildew growth prevention and, of course, energy savings, to name a few. In fact, once the decision has been made to go with metal for the roofing material, a skylight is often a natural tie-in when it comes to sustainable design—for both form and function. In order to make the most of the design choice, there are a few key considerations to bear in mind during the specification and pre-installation phases of the process.

Types of Available Skylights

Two common types of skylights used with metal roofs are Light Transmitting Panels (LTPs) and Curb Mount Skylights. Both supply natural light into the building and provide similar benefits. LTPs, which are formed from a translucent material and come in many different panel profiles, in actuality, can be used not only in metal roofs but as an accessory for metal wall panels, too. One of the key benefits of LTPs is that the panel is formed so that it substantially matches the configuration and characteristics of the system into which it is installed, and therefore can work seamlessly with specific metal roof systems. Curbed (curb mount) skylights include a raised structure (“curb”) formed around the roof opening where the skylight will be attached. Curb skylights come in many shapes and styles.

In addition to the general “type” of skylight, another consideration is selecting the best orientation for the skylight—which we’ll look at next.

Skylight Placement, Orientation and the Climate Factor

Placement and orientation are some of the most important factors in getting the maximum benefit from skylights. During the planning phase, determine the best location to achieve optimal light and to avoid obstructions (such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and vent pipes) below the skylight.

Skylight
Skylights and Light Transmitting Panels supply natural light into the building as shown above.

In terms of getting the most out of the skylight from an energy-savings standpoint, climate and exposure are also key factors. For example, with a southern exposure, skylights provide an excellent level of passive solar heat during the colder winter months, while keeping cooling costs down during the summer heat. On the other hand, a skylight with a western exposure will increase cooling costs if the structure is in a relatively warm climate.

Installation Planning and Timing

Skylights can be installed during or after the roof has been installed, but it is in the best interest of the project to plan for a skylight from the early stages of the design phase in order to best accommodate and prepare for the addition of the skylight.

Safety Concerns

Skylights and LTPs should be guarded to protect from fall through the use of metal railing, nets or some other method of protection.

Responsibility and Compliance

Last but certainly not least, it must be stated that it is the user’s responsibility to ensure that the installation and use of all light transmitting panels comply with State, Federal and OSHA regulations and laws, including, but not limited to, guarding all light transmitting panels with screens, fixed standard railings, or other acceptable safety controls that prevent fall-through.

For additional information about skylights for metal roofs, please contact MBCI at (877) 713-6224.

Wellness and Envelopes: Four Ways Single Skin & Insulated Metal Panels Keep Us Healthy

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Is there a connection between building design and human health?

We know the answer must be yes, but figuring out how the connection works is the job of experts like the team behind the WELL Building Standard®, a new certification that takes on the question. Among the solutions that can help make a building better? Metal roofing and siding, according to many healthy building experts.

First, let’s learn about WELL. According to the International WELL Building Institute, the WELL Building Standard “takes a holistic approach to health in the built environment addressing behavior, operations and design.” Their performance-based system measures and monitors such building features as air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. Two ratings have been offered: WELL Certified™ spaces and WELL Core and Shell Compliant™ developments. Done properly, these “improve the nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns, and performance of occupants.”

Pilot programs are currently available for retail, multifamily residential, educational, restaurants and commercial kitchens projects. In many of these projects, the use of metal claddings and insulated metal panels (IMPs) is recommended by many health-focused professionals. Why?

1. Occupant comfort

IMPs tend to have excellent R-values and very good thermal efficiency – including long-term thermal resistance, or LTTR, a key measure of how the building will perform over time. For the wellness factor from pure thermal comfort, IMPs are highly effective over conventional construction.

2. Nourishment of people and earth

IMPs are often made with recycled metals and improve the energy performance of the building. With energy cost savings ranging from 5 percent to 30 percent, they cut the carbon footprint of the facility. Plus the interior and exterior skins include up to 35 percent recycled content – and they are 100 percent recyclable – reducing impact on the global carbon load.

3. Daylight for all.

Using metal roofs with skylights or light-transmitting panels in conjunction with integrated dimming lighting is a highly cost-effective strategy, and IMP systems also have integrated window systems that increase available sunlight within building interiors. Light is essential for healthy buildings, and daylight is the best kind of all.

In addition, because rigid insulation per inch offers more R-value than per inch of fiberglass insulation and IMPs have metal liner skins, day-lighting fixtures such as light tubes can be integrated more easily with these roofs.

4. Proper moisture and air control.

Issues such as leaky walls and wet, moldy construction materials are anathema to wellness, and must be controlled for healthy building certifications. Mold has a negative impact on indoor air quality and indoor environmental quality, and one of the main culprits is trapped moisture. This can also corrode the metal studs and furring members, even if they are galvanized, leading to structural issues such as reduced fastener pullout resistance and leaks.

How Does a Building Become WELL Certified?

IMPs used as either rainscreens or as sealed barrier walls backing up a rainscreen are shown to protect against moisture issues and mold over time. They also serve as a continuous layer of insulation and air barrier. In this way, the single-component system can eliminate the need “for air barriers, gypsum sheathing, fiberglass insulation, vapor barriers, and other elements of a traditional multicomponent wall system,” says one industry executive. In fact, many masonry buildings are being upgraded with IMP retrofits on the exterior, directly over the old concrete, brick or stone.

All of these traits of IMPs certainly contribute to more healthy buildings, but do they add up to WELL Building certification levels, such as Silver, Gold or Platinum?

To get there, building teams must undergo an on-site WELL Commissioning process with rigorous post-occupancy performance testing of all the features. If it meets the “preconditions” — the WELL features necessary for baseline certification — WELL Certification is given. If the team pursues “optimization features,” the higher levels of achievement are granted.

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