Skylights are a great green investment

Sacramento skylights bring daylight into the workplace

For resources and information about the benefits of daylighting, go to Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno. His column, Greenlight, appears weekly in this space.

I love skylights. And I particularly love the Sunoptics skylights that we have here at the News & Review world headquarters on Del Paso Boulevard. I love how something as simple as a hole in the roof can make such a difference.

These skylights reduce our lighting costs, create a better working environment, reduce greenhouse gases and are one of the fastest green paybacks you can find.

A few years ago, Jim Parks and Jim Barnett at SMUD recommended we look at skylights. The Jims both had tremendous praise for the energy efficiency of skylights, but they said the most important impact of skylights was how they improved the work environment. I decided to check it out. I went over to the Sunoptics factory over on 27th Street.

Jerry Blomberg and his son Jim walked me through their manufacturing facility. They told me they were installing their skylights in Walmarts all across the world. I asked about heat from the skylights during the summer. They said that lighting generates more heat than skylights. I asked about glare from the skylight. They said it would not be a problem. I then asked about breakage. They smiled.

Jerry took me over to a nearby skylight and gave me a hammer. “Hit it,” he said. I have reached this ripe old age by not being stupid, so I hit it, kinda. Nothing happened. Jerry said, “No, hit it hard!” So I smacked it with all of my might. And still, nothing happened. I was impressed. A little later, I visited the Walmart on Florin Road and learned how Sunoptics skylights have made it so much more enjoyable to shop there.

A few weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui came by to tour our building, and I showed her the skylights. I explained how, of all the green features in our building, the skylights had made the biggest difference. They save energy, of course, but there’s something really wonderful about working under natural light. And then I told her that our skylights were made right here in Sacramento.

Rep. Matsui set up a press conference at Sunoptics, so I got to visit again. The good folks at Sunoptics are doing great. They increased their workforce from 65 employees two years ago to 100 employees. They expect to double their sales next year. They are exporting skylights to 23 different countries. And they are introducing new LED lighting that adjusts to the changing daylight. They are a Sacramento treasure.

Based upon our experience with our own building and my observations at Walmart, I would suggest that if you have a commercial building, and if it has a roof, you need to call Sunoptics. This is not just a good idea. Seriously, if you don’t call them, you might as well use a hammer on your own head instead of the skylight.