February 1, 2019

Daylight in the Ashburn VA Firehouse

“Even at night, you can see the moonlight coming through them… like the lights are on.” 

Eneref Institute examines how tubular daylight devices brought modern features to a 19th-century building design.

Architect Peter Edivan specified tubular skylights to transform a 21stcentury-firehouse into a showcase of sustainability and traditional 19thcentury building design.

Sun Tunnels, long tubular skylights, brought daylight from the rooftop of the Ashburn, Virginia, firehouse into the building’s interior. Sun Tunnels are designed to minimize light loss through the tube, resulting in brighter illumination into the interior space.

During daylight hours, the electric lights can be turned off in most areas of the second floor of the new firehouse, according to Mike Bromley, the contractor of Chamberlain Construction Corporation who installed the skylights.

“Even at night, you can see the moonlight coming through them… like the lights are on,” explained Bromley.

Sun Tunnels differ from traditional skylights in one significant way: They are long and can bend around objects that would otherwise interfere with—or totally prohibit—the installation of traditional skylights.

Because Sun Tunnels can be adjusted during installation, the light output lens does not have to be placed directly underneath the rooftop lens. For example, if an HVAC system sits directly over the point where light is needed, the skylight tubes can be configured, or bent, to transfer the light into the room—even horizontally. Up to 20 feet long, Sun Tunnels are relatively easy to incorporate in a building without the need for major structural considerations or changes.

“Actually, in daylight mode, the light coming out is quite intense. They’re probably even a little bit brighter than the hallway lights alone,” said Stan Murphy, the Fire Station Project Manager.

Serious fireman at work.

Architect Edivan summarized the success of the natural interior daylight this way: “The client is happy. So, all I can do is smile.”

Right to Daylight