FGIA Releases Complimentary Skylight Selection and Daylighting Design Document

The Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) has released a new skylight document. AAMA SKY-3-20, Skylight Selection and Daylighting Design Guide including Unit Skylights, Tubular Daylight Devices (TDD) and Sloped Glazing, was developed in 2020. This comprehensive, 51-page document is now available as a complimentary download available to the public. 

“This document is intended to assist the user in understanding the nature of fenestration products and systems which provide features and performance characteristics necessary for effective use on sloped or ‘horizontal’ building envelope surfaces,” said John Westerfield (CrystaLite), chair of the FGIA Skylight Sloped Glazing Marketing Committee.

AAMA SKY-3 is part of a suite of documents generated to educate interested parties in the proper design, selection, specification and use of skylights. Other skylight documents from FGIA include:

  • AAMA PSSG, Selection and Application Guide for Plastic Glazed Skylights and Sloped Glazing
  • AAMA 1607, Voluntary Installation Guidelines for Unit Skylights
  • TIR-A7, Sloped Glazing Guidelines
  • AAMA SSGPG-1, Structural Silicone Glazing (SSG) Design Guidelines
  • AAMA GDSG-1, Glass Design for Sloped Glazing and Skylights

Complimentary copies of AAMA SKY-3-20 can be requested online.

For more information, visit https://fgiaonline.org.

Modular Skylights for Commercial Projects

VELUX Modular Skylights (VMS) use a prefabricated system that requires no on-site glazing to save time and allow for installation in nearly any weather condition. The VMS system comes in customizable designs available in both fixed and venting skylights, with both designed to look identical in the closed position. VELUX offers six VMS configurations:

  • Longlight 5-25°: A single series of modular skylights with a low-pitch design that provides a great option for larger rooms, corridors and hallways.
  • Wall-Mounted Longlight 5-25°:A series of skylights that innovatively mount against a vertical wall.
  • Northlight 40-90°: Bands of modular skylights that are raised to allow sunlight into below rooms. The upright design makes it a great choice for installations that face the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Ridgelight 25-40°: Made of two symmetrical rows of self-supporting skylights that allow light and openness into areas below.
  • Atrium Longlight 5-25°: Multiple rows of longlights, supported only by structural beams, create a symmetrical design of venting and fixed units.
  • Atrium Ridgelight 25-40°: Multiple rows of ridgelights, supported only by structural beams, create a symmetrical design of venting and fixed units.

The VMS system comes in three module options including the Fixed Skylight Module; Motorized Comfort Venting Skylight Module, which opens to 410 mm; and the Motorized Smoke Venting Skylight Module, which opens to 700 mm in less than 60 seconds. Each module is watertight, airtight, durable, energy efficient and available in either two- or three-layer glazing options.

For more information, visit veluxusa.com or https://skylightoffers.com/vms.

Roof Windows Provide Fresh Air and Natural Light in Easy-To-Reach Spaces

VELUX offers roof windows for in-reach applications in both top- and side-hinged options for attic and bonus room renovations. With easy maneuverability, roof windows also provide a point of egress, which can help structures comply with building codes requiring two points of escape in case of fire. 

“Roof windows offer convenient, practical options for homeowners who want easy roof access but also want to transform their space with natural light,” said Ross Vandermark, national product manager for VELUX America. “Plus, unique safety control features let homeowners rest assured they don’t have to sacrifice safety for fresh air ventilation.”

With convenient side or bottom handles for easy operation, homeowners can increase the amount of natural light and fresh air ventilation in their spaces, all while enjoying panoramic views. Plus, roof windows allow homeowners to rely less on electrical lighting, which helps to boost the home’s energy efficiency. VELUX also offers a variety of blind options for roof windows that give homeowners complete control over the amount of natural light they want in their rooms.

For more information, visit www.veluxusa.com

Firestone Building Products Announces Master Contractor Award Winners

Firestone Building Products Co. LLC, a manufacturer and supplier of a comprehensive “Roots to Rooftops” product portfolio, announced the 263 firms that earned the 2016 Master Contractor Award. The top-tier companies were selected from a network of more than 3,000 Firestone Building Products Red Shield Licensed Roofing Contractors for delivering exemplary installation, quality of work and customer service.

The Master Contractor Program presents three distinct industry honors annually: The Master Contractor Award, Inner Circle of Quality Award and President’s Club Award. The program’s 2016 winners collectively installed more than 309 million square feet of warranted Firestone Building Products roofing systems on new and reroof projects during 2015.

“Our annual Firestone Building Products Master Contractor Program recognizes top-tier firms for their commitment to excellence and superior workmanship,” says Tim Dunn, president of Firestone Building Products. “Ultimately, the winners’ attention to detail during all installation phases helps ensure long-term roofing system performance. Master Contractor, Inner Circle of Quality and President’s Club award winners represent our best partners in the industry. We are proud of all they have accomplished and look forward to continuing to see them achieve.”

The program’s 2016 award categories and parameters include:

  • Master Contractor
    Master Contractor Award recipients were selected based on the total square footage installed and quality points accumulated for outstanding inspection ratings on systems covered by the Firestone Building Products Red Shield Warranty. Those include: RubberGard EPDM, UltraPly TPO, asphalt and metal roofing systems.

    Master Contractors were also eligible to earn points in the sustainability category. The program recognizes Firestone Building Products’ SkyScape Vegetative Roof System and SunWave Daylighting System.

    To meet the 2016 award requirements, a contractor had to complete a minimum of eight Red Shield warranted jobs during the 2015 calendar year, be in good financial standing with Firestone Building Products, and have a Preferred Quality Incidence Rating (QIR) that did not exceed three times the average QIR for Red Shield Licensed Roofing Contractors. QIR is determined by the annual number of quality incidents per million square feet of roofing under warranty.

  • Inner Circle of Quality
    Master Contractors were eligible for the Inner Circle of Quality Award by installing a minimum of eight warranted Firestone Building Products roofing systems each in 2014 and 2015; and four roofs per year for each of the prior three years. They were also required to maintain at least 2 million square feet of Firestone Building Products roofs under warranty and achieve an annual Quality Incidence Rating (QIR) of 1.0 or less.

  • President’s Club
    Master Contractors who have accrued the highest number of quality points for superior inspection ratings and total square footage of Firestone Building Products Red Shield warranted roofing system installations completed during the past year earned the distinguished President’s Club Award.

Daylighting Can Create Significant Energy Savings and Human Benefits

Daylighting is the practice of placing skylights or windows on a building so during the day, natural light provides effective internal lighting. This strategy allows natural sunlight to illuminate the interior space of a building without the need to rely exclusively on electrical lighting during the day. Electrical lighting can account for as much as 40 percent of power consumption in many commercial buildings, meaning reducing such loads can significantly lower energy usage. One means to lowering energy use is to install prismatic skylights and light tubes to increase natural daylighting. Although there are many myths surrounding skylights, evidence shows they not only improve energy efficiency, they also provide multiple benefits to people living and working within daylit facilities.

Prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Skylight Types

There are a number of different skylight categories on the market today, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Prismatic skylights are the most widely used because they allow for the most diffused and evenly distributed light. Other, non-diffused skylights can create hotspots within the building and tend to have poor U-values with high solar-heat-gain coefficients that decrease the thermal efficiency of the skylight. Skylight spacing should be 1 1/2 times the distance from the floor to the underside of the roof. (To learn more, read “Modular Skylight Systems: Best Practices for Designing Skylights with Suspended Ceilings”.

The materials used for skylights also vary. Polycarbonates have the best impact resistance and are the most hurricane and burglar proof. Some acrylic diffusers can yellow with age. Lastly, glass skylights are commonly used in residential applications and large, custom jobs that vary widely depending upon the customer’s specifications.

Different skylight manufacturers offer various alternative designs to achieve improved daylighting. One such alternate design is a tubular skylight or “light pipe”. Tubular designs are great for drop ceilings, because the tube reflects light down through a diffuser at the bottom of the fixture and ends up looking just like a normal lighting fixture on the interior of the building.

Saving Money

Although skylights can be installed at any time on a flat or steep-slope roof, significant savings can be realized when you install skylights during reroofing. The cost of installation decreases because manpower is already onsite, safety is in place, and there is significant reduction in overall time and labor leading to more cost-efficiency. With larger skylights, installations can be spread out over the roof and, ultimately, that saves money, as well.

By leveraging relationships with skylight manufacturers and lighting controllers’ manufacturers, roofing contractors may be able to access additional skylight models, better pricing and longer-term warranties.

To maximize the benefits of a daylighting strategy, the building owner should consider combining new skylights with new interior lighting controls. Photo-sensor technology incorporated with skylights can further conserve energy by actively sensing when artificial lighting is not needed.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs.

Daylighting Benefits

Environmentally, daylighting reduces the load on power plants, lowers greenhouse-gas emissions and lessens air and water pollution resulting from byproducts of electricity generation. The payback for energy savings and reduction of electricity is typically one to two years. For customers seeking to achieve LEED certification, a green-building program administered by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council, daylighting is another green solution. Skylights can contribute to a number of LEED credits by optimizing energy performance, using recycled materials, and increasing daylight and views.

One of the most documented outcomes of increasing natural daylighting is an aesthetically pleasing environment in which to live, work and interact that improves productivity and personal satisfaction while decreasing energy costs associated with maintaining that facility. A reduction in energy costs and increase in productivity for manufacturing and office environments mean the payback period on daylighting investments can be relatively short. Schools also experience improved test scores. Hospitals see speedier recovery times and retail stores see an increase in sales all linked to increased daylighting. Daylighting can add to the value of a building, and daylit stores see an average of 5.5 percent increase in sales relative to stores without daylighting, according to “Daylight & Retail Sales”, a California Energy Commission report.

Daylighting Myths

The old-school thinking about day-lighting is that it is expensive and increases the chance of roof leaks around the skylights. Some building maintenance staff members do not want to deal with skylights. However, once a sample prismatic skylight is installed, the same maintenance staff usually becomes enthusiastic about the new lighting source. As for roof leaks, prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Another myth is that with natural sunlight from the skylights, the building will be too hot. That’s not true because there is a reflective lens on top and an opaque lens on bottom. Light is brought in from all different angles and mitigates heat transfer into the building.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs. Once the CentiMark Corp. team installs a sample skylight on a roof, our customers typically get really excited and the interest level increases. Customers then rethink skylights and the lighting inside their buildings.

PHOTOS: Centimark Corp.

Eneref Institute Launches Natural Interior Daylight Initiative

Eneref Institute, an advocate for sustainable development, announces the launch of its Natural Interior Daylight (NID) initiative to encourage greater use of sunlight as a primary light source in homes and buildings.

Expert advisors to the Natural Interior Daylight initiative include three of the nation’s most influential lighting designers: Nancy Clanton, Jim Benya and Chip Israel.

The initiative launched a virtual campus featuring a repository of advocacy reports demonstrating successful applications of natural interior daylight in homes and buildings. Eneref advocacy reports draw on the expertise of advisors as well as testimonial interviews with end-user customers to provide a uniquely authentic, real-world perspective on a variety of technologies and solutions.

In addition, Eneref Institute published a report in LD+A, the journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society, outlining the current market obstacles to daylighting.

Increased human wellness and productivity benefits in spaces prioritizing daylight have been confirmed by three evidence-based Heschong Mahone studies—findings echoed in Eneref Institute advocacy reports.

“Daylighting should be considered in any high-performance building,” says Nancy Clanton, president of Clanton & Associates, a provider of sustainable lighting design.

The use of interior daylight such as energy-efficient windows and skylights—in place of or in conjunction with traditional electric lighting—can significantly reduce a building’s energy load. Lighting represents almost 20 percent of global electricity consumption.

“Whenever we work with clients, our team always encourages daylighting because it makes sense for both energy efficiency and the overall well-being of occupants,” explains Deborah Burnett, U.S. lighting designer and wellness SME principal of Benya Burnett Consultancy.

“We’re delighted to participate in Eneref Institute’s independent initiative because it will benefit our entire daylighting industry,” says John Lawton, electrical engineer and global product skylight manager for VELUX, the world’s largest manufacturer of residential skylights.

“Rooftop prismatic skylights offer facility owners an excellent, low-cost opportunity to enhance the quality of the interior lighting when coupled with proper installation and maintenance,” explains John Godwin, vice president of CentiMark, a commercial roofing and flooring contractor.

“Sustainability is just good design,” according to Chip Israel, an internationally recognized lighting designer and president of the Lighting Design Alliance.

The benefits of natural interior daylight outweigh the investment; as sustainable practices grow more common, its use in homes and buildings will continue to increase, according to Seth Warren Rose, founding director of Eneref Institute.

“You don’t need a degree in illuminating engineering to know that a room with a view—one with windows that lets in natural light—is what people want. Inherently, we just know,” explains Rose.

For more information about the daylighting market, see the Eneref Institute report “Seven Market Obstacles of Natural Interior Daylight.”

The BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership Installs Tornado-Resistant Daylighting Systems and Other Sustainable Materials

On the night of May 4, 2007, brothers Kelly and Mike Estes saw their BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership obliterated by an EF5 tornado nearly 2-miles wide (according to the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which rates the strength of tornados by the damage caused; view the scale on page 3). Astoundingly, 95 percent of their town—Greensburg, Kan.—was also destroyed that day. The tornado did much more than rip roofs off buildings and toss things around; it turned the entire community into what looked like kindling.

Rarely do communities get hit by an EF5 tornado, which can come about when air masses collide. Sometimes warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico rises above drier air from the Southwest deserts in the U.S. This can create unstable conditions resulting in thunderstorms and worse. A strong collision of air masses creates a strong storm. Additionally, wind patterns and the jet stream can magnify the storm, resulting in what people refer to as “the perfect storm”.

After being completely destroyed by an EF5 tornado, the BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership has been rebuilt in Greensburg, Kan., in a better, greener way.

After being completely destroyed by an EF5 tornado, the BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership has been rebuilt in Greensburg, Kan., in a better, greener way.

Despite the large-scale losses incurred by the entire town, 100 customers and friends of the Estes family showed up the morning of May 5 to help them salvage what remained of their business. Shortly after the tornado disaster, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius stated her wish that Greensburg become the “the greenest city in the state”.

As part of their commitment to their community, Kelly, Mike and their family decided to rebuild their business in a better, greener way. They wanted the new 28,000-square-foot prefabricated metal building to be the world’s greenest farm-machinery facility; attain a LEED Platinum rating from the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council; and use the least energy possible. One of the most important considerations was using building materials that could withstand future tornados.


To help achieve LEED Platinum and outlast any future high-velocity winds, they incorporated 12 Daylighting Systems in their retail area’s roof to showcase their merchandise; reduce lighting energy costs; and flood the area with natural light, a benefit for customers and employees.

The Daylighting Systems capture light through a dome on the roof and channel it down through a highly reflective tube. This tubing is more efficient than a traditional drywall skylight shaft, which can lose over half of the potential light. The tubing fits between rafters and installs with no structural modification. At the ceiling level, a diffuser that resembles a recessed light fixture spreads the light evenly throughout the room.

The dome is made from high-quality acrylic resin that is specifically formulated for increased impact strength, chemical- and weather-resistance, and high clarity (a polycarbonate inner dome is used for high-velocity hurricane zones). Domes are engineered to deflect midday heat and maximize low-angle light capture. The tubing is made from puncture-proof aluminum sheet coated with the highly reflective material for maximum light transfer. The units (independently tested by Architectural Testing in Fresno, Calif.) comply with various building codes including the 2009 International Building Code and 2010 Florida Building Code, including high-velocity hurricane zones.

“When our power went out one time for four hours, we were able to keep the shop open and operating due to daylight strategies, which includes the Daylighting Systems,” notes Mike Estes. “We didn’t anticipate this benefit but we’re really happy to have this bonus.”

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Projects: Hospitality & Entertainment

The Lobby, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, Colo.

The Lobby, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, Colo.

The Lobby, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, Colo.


Design Architect: Zehren & Associates, Avon, Colo.
Engineer: Monroe & Newell Engineers Inc., Denver
Owner: Vail Valley Foundation, Vail

Roof Materials

The Vail Valley Foundation envisioned an iconic entrance for the amphitheater that not only would accommodate guests, protect against the elements and provide facilities, but also would recognize and celebrate the Ford family and mirror the amphitheater’s atmosphere.

Under the Vail Valley Foundation, Zehren’s team of architects chose approximately 5,500 square feet of PTFE fiberglass membrane canopies to make the vision for The Lobby a reality. PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene, is a Teflon-coated woven fiberglass membrane that is durable and weather resistant. The PTFE fiber coating is chemically inert, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and immune to UV radiation.

Designer, fabricator and installer of PTFE fiberglass membrane: Birdair

Building Report

The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is a remarkable outdoor venue nestled along a hillside with a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains. The Lobby, which is adjacent to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and Ford Park, serves not only as an impressive entrance to the amphitheater, but also as a shelter from inclement weather, a social gathering point prior to entering the amphitheater, and a place for ticket and bag check. The Lobby allows for a smooth transition into the venue.

Within the Lobby resides a mini-stage that can accommodate pre-show performances, along with a new stand for concessions and restrooms. Around the perimeter of the space rests informal boulder seating, and alpine landscapes border the surrounding walls. Overall, the aesthetics of the space mirror the pristine landscape and enjoyable outdoor atmosphere.

The Lobby also holds a Ford family tribute: a series of symbolic sculptures and interpretive elements intended to pay homage to President and Mrs. Ford and their family. This tribute is a new landmark in Vail celebrating the family’s commitment to their adopted hometown and the positive changes that they made to the community.


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Incorporate Daylighting into Existing Buildings

The RetroLite daylighting system from Butler Manufacturing

The RetroLite daylighting system from Butler Manufacturing

Building owners can now incorporate daylighting into existing buildings to minimize lighting-related electricity costs, with the introduction of the RetroLite daylighting system from Butler Manufacturing.

Implementing daylighting technology can provide significant savings, as lighting-related electricity is often the highest operating expense in a building — frequently exceeding heating and cooling costs. In fact, a building equipped with a RetroLite daylighting system and lighting controls can reduce lighting-related electricity expenses by up to 70 percent.

The RetroLite daylighting system, specially designed to replace the Lite*Panl panel system, is available for retrofit applications to an MR-24 or CMR-24 roof system. Product benefits include the ability to:

    Add weathertight protection — Rigorous testing at the Butler® Research and Development Center proves the self-curbing RetroLite daylighting system is effective at preventing water penetration, an inherent risk for other curb-mounted daylighting systems.

    Harness the power of prismatics — The RetroLite daylighting system provides 100 percent diffused light without glares or hot spots, even in overcast conditions. Its unique acrylic dome design pulls in more light earlier and later in the day, with a visible light transmittance value of 0.68.

    Simplify installation — For simplified installation, the diverter of the RetroLite daylighting system can be tied into the splice of a Lite*Panl panel system. In addition, its curbless design reduces the number of fasteners required — which decreases the field labor needed for installation.

Tubular Skylight Distributes Ambient Light Evenly

Solatube M74 DS Core

Solatube M74 DS Core

The Solatube M74 DS Core combines advanced dome and tube optics with a Prismatic Diffuser. It distributes ambient light evenly throughout an area, increases illumination on high wall and ceiling planes, and is ideal for floor to diffuser heights of 18 to 26 feet. The Solatube M74 DS with Amplifier pairs the core unit with the SkyVault Series Amplifier and Prismatic Diffuser. It delivers focused light across greater distances to visual task plane, reduces light high on walls and loss at the ceiling plane, and is ideal for floor to diffuser heights of 26 feet and up.