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Sky Harbor at Night

Skylights Offer Bright Atmosphere at Sky Harbor

by public relations | Published On: Jun 16, 2010 | Last Updated: 

Natural light is flooding Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and providing a more relaxed atmosphere for some employees.

Ten energy-saving skylights have been installed in the Facilities and Services warehouse area at the Airport. The skylight installation took approximately three weeks and used existing holes in the roof from an old cooling system to cut costs.

Indoors, the skylights simply look like upside-down plastic pyramids jutting from the ceiling (see photos above and above right), but the roof tells a different story. Domes made of corrugated plastic dot the roof in ten locations (see photos above). Each dome covers a sensor that tracks the sun’s location in the sky during the day to direct the three mirrors to the correct location for reflecting the optimal amount of light into each skylight.

Along with the skylights, which provide roughly half of the light needed for the facility, plans are in the works to replace existing T12 lighting with more energy-efficient T8 lighting. Also, photoeye sensors are to be installed with the T8 lighting to determine when artificial lights are needed in accordance with the amount of natural light available. The exact amount of energy conservation from the skylights has yet to be determined, but monitoring is currently in place to begin understanding their impact.

Terminal 3 is also making strides in energy-efficiency with eight skylights that were installed a year ago in the north concourse, behind security. These skylights are a similar model to the ones at the warehouse. The Terminal 3 skylights have allowed 39 artificial lights to be turned off during the day and bring an overall brighter feel to the terminal.

One concern for the project was the potential for increased heat brought in by the natural light. However, within the design of the skylights, a thermal barrier prevents this from happening. Skylight temperatures are at a level even lower than the heat generated by the artificial lighting.

“We installed the skylights to see how employees would like it. Now there is not as much harsh lighting and a more relaxed atmosphere,” said Shannon Newcomb, construction liaison for Facilities and Services. “I really like the program and I think it would be great to do more in the future.”

First posted: 6/16/2010