Dec 31, 2012



ManufacturerSunflower Corporation
LocationDenver, Colorado, USA
CostStarting at $15 000 USD
Number of Installations10 to date
Featured ProjectScience Technology Engineering and Math Facility
ClientCherry Creek School District
ArchitectHutton Architecture Studio
FundingBond measure

Sun Harvester on the roof in Boulder Valley. Photo: Peter Novak/Sundolier

The Sundolier, a cross between a skylight and a low-grade telescope, is a high-tech, active natural daylight system. Resembling a chandelier, it is about the size of a small car. Manufactured by the Sundolier Sunflower Corporation at a starting cost of $15 000, it can be used to illuminate up to 8000 square feet of multi-story space, from education facilities, to factories, to military bases. By harnessing natural daylight, the company claims the Sundolier can eliminate up to 40 percent of building energy use, according to CEO Peter Novak.

A conventional light chimney channels light from a skylight through reflective ductwork into an interior space. The Sundolier’s flower-like “petals” capture a greater amount of daylight, concentrating and dispersing it more effectively over a larger area.

The Sundolier is built from a series of 2-D mirrors. It uses five levels of optics to redirect daylight through a rooftop opening. It can span multiple stories and emits a soft, no-glare light that can be reflected off of ceilings and walls, and be directed for spotlighting.

The Cherry Creek School District in Denver, Colorado, has installed the Sundolier. The district incorporated the technology into a new facility intended to raise student performance in science and technology. The new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math facility serves students from an existing high school, middle school and five elementary schools within a 1.5-mile radius. All of the schools have historically performed below national and state testing averages. Design firm Hutton Architecture Studio seized the opportunity to build a sustainable building that would fully integrate the sustainable design methods into the teaching curriculum.

The school installed the Sundolier in the facility’s main lobby. Students use the Sundolier to learn about light tables, Fresnel lenses, reflectors, and filters. For example, students in the school’s health science classes observe the Sundolier as it tracks the sun’s azimuth and altitude, and students study elements of daylight as they relate to health and wellness. Other classes and workshops focus on the effects of UV light, how the body stores vitamins, and various aspects of the physics of light.

Diagram shows how Sundolier Sunflower projects sunlight into classrooms. Image: Peter Novak/Sundolier

Novak believes that policy changes on the national and state level through tax credits and energy-saving incentives could prompt a shift in the way people value daylight. “What we’re pushing for in the ‘daylighting’ industry is a recognition of daylighting as a renewable resource,” Novak says.

“The energy industry has created good tools for supporting energy production, but the energy-efficiency world needs to catch up. If I cancel a watt, that has a bigger impact than if I generate one.”

Peter Novak, CEO

A Boulder Valley classrom is lit with a Sundolier Sunflower. Photo: Peter Novak/Sundolier

Longmont School Classroom also lit with Sundolier Sunflower. Photo: Peter Novak/Sundolier


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