I have been in countless buildings on a sunny, beautiful Arizona Spring day that have the A/C blasting, ceiling fans on, and every single light on, despite the abundance of windows! There is a simple, fast, painless way of reducing our voracious energy consumption that wouldn't cost a dimeTURN THE LIGHTS OFF !!
I've been in numerous restaurants for lunch that have large windows in the dining room. It would be barely noticeable if every light were turned off because of the amount of natural light. I recognize that these establishments need to advertise and display their fine products and don't want to appear uninviting. But, having all the lights on, especially the more decorative ones and those within 4 feet of windows, are really only necessary at night. I've been in some spaces during March that have the A/C and every ceiling fan on to the point of a chill when it's 70 degrees outside! I emphasize again, let's turn these things on and off at the appropriate times.
Architecture can and should voluntarily help in this endeavor with judicious use and proper placement of insulated, low-E windows with adequate exterior solar protection to lower the need for so many artificial lights. We can greatly reduce A/C with proper insulation, roof overhangs, building orientation, materials and intelligent locations of windows and solid walls. Existing buildings can utilize awnings and low-E films or tinting at windows as well as more energy-efficient A/C & heating units. These are just some of the many passive solar techniques that can be used readily and at relative low expense.
The easiest way to help the environment that every single one of us can do right now at no cost is to become more aware and adapt our behavioral habits. Businesses can greatly lower their energy demand and operation costs. They can also market that they have turned off a few lights in the name of saving our environment.
Together we can support this national idea of turning off a few unnecessary lights during the day to save our Mother Earth! I know the positive impact would be quite significant!!