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California warehouse brightens up with skylights

Reroofing was required to bring a California warehouse up to safety standards for fall protection and interior daylighting. Industrial skylights and new smoke vents contributed to its improved performance.
Photos courtesy Skyco Skylights

A recent upgrade has enhanced fall safety, leak protection, and daylighting at a warehouse in Orange, California. An air-control manufacturer serving data processing centers sought Title 24 compliance with a reroofing project that replaced old, fiberglass skylight units with 30 Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-listed smoke vents and 58 industrial skylights.

The new units include numerous features contributing to durability, daylighting, and improved ventilation, with weather-rated venting bases, polycarbonate domes, aluminum-capped frames, continuous gaskets, and silicone seals set to last 50 years. Tested to withstand a 363-kg (800-lb) impact load, they also comply with Cal/OSHA fall protection requirements thanks to white powder-coated security bars. Further, the units are listed under the International Code Council Evaluation Service (ICC-ES).

The effects the replacement has had on the facility are significant. The minimum illumination recommended for this type of setting, where detailed mechanical work is performed, is 75 to 100 foot-candles (fc). Even a basic warehouse should achieve a measurement of at least 27 fc. However, a light study performed before the replacement revealed this warehouse’s illumination only rated 9 fc. This was likely due to the sun’s capacity to deteriorate fiberglass’s performance over time.

For warehouses like this one, where detailed mechanical work is performed, illumination of at least 75 to 100 foot-candles (fc) is recommended, but this facility was only achieving 9 fc before the replacement.

Another test was conducted after the reroofing project’s completion, revealing a drastic increase from 9 to 120 fc. Individually, the skylights scored 150 fc, and the smoke vents stood at 90 fc. Both tests were completed at noon on partly cloudy days to minimize variations in light conditions. (Performance evaluations are recommended to be performed on skylights that have been in service longer than five years.)

The skylights’ high visible light transmittance (VLT) of 70 percent was likely a contributing factor to their strong daylighting performance. However, they also help the facility save on energy. Air-conditioning costs are mitigated by the cooling effect of both the new roof itself and the new units, which possess a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.58.

The project was managed by Westcoast Roof Consulting and performed by Howard Roofing.

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