Andrea from Edmonton-owned website/marketplace raisingspaces.com recently informed me that Edmonton has it's very own local manufacturer of light pipes: Sunscope Natural Light Systems. We'll be considering their product first for the Mill Creek NetZero Home (MCNZH) because buying locally helps to create the vibrant local, green, living economy that we need.
A light pipe is a great way to get natural light to a room that has little or no windows in it. A light pipe, or sun tunnel or light tube, is essentially a pipe that sticks out of a building's roof and reflects sunlight into an interior room. Here's a good illustration:
light pipe (image from Wikipedia)
It will allow less energy to escape a home than will a skylight, because there is less surface area exposed to the outside, and because a light pipe has a large, insulating dead air space between the interior and the exterior glass. Besides being more energy efficient, they are also more durable than a skylight - my builder Peter says that most skylights will leak eventually. Because there is no place for water to pool around the circular light pipe, it has a much better chance of not causing problems.
The MCNZH has two interior, windowless, enclosed spaces on the second floor: the ensuite bathroom and the main bathroom. The master bedroom will be awash in extra light from the huge south-facing windows, so we have decided to simply install an interior window high up on the wall between the ensuite and the rest of the bedroom. That will provide plenty of natural light to the bathroom.
MCNZH - Second Floor Plan (light pipe in main bath and interior window in master bdrm.)
As for the main bathroom, we don't want to put a window in the wall because it would be in the shower/bathtub, and that just doesn't seem like a good idea. So we'll be installing a (hopefully locally manufactured) light pipe. The light is much nicer, and since we won't have to turn on the lights during daylight hours we'll save a little pile of Wabumun lake's coal from being burned up.
(cross posted at raisingspaces.com)