Two hi-tech skylights were on display at the Sustainable Energy Expo -- a prismatic skylight by Sunpotics that replicates the ambient glow of fluorescent lighting, and the amazing fiber optic skylight by HUVCO which pipes sunlight into the darkest recesses of a building.

Sunoptics has a lofty vision -- to entirely eliminate the need for electric lighting during working hours.

This of course would mean a major reduction in total U.S energy demand. According to the EIA (the DOE Energy Information Administration) lighting accounts for a full 20% of total energy consumption in commercial buildings:

And most of this energy is consumed during the day when sunlight is readily available. But there have been two problems with skylights in the past -- lack of quality in illumination and excessive distance between the light source and the work area.

The Sunoptics prismatic skylight solves the first problem. Here is the elevator pitch about the skylight I shot during the Expo:

And for spaces that do not have direct roof/ceiling access to skylights, the new HUVCO fiber optic skylight allows sunlight to be "piped in" via bundles of fiber optic cables. 

One skylight has 64 individual cables, each of which has a sun-tracking fresnel lens that focuses the sun's light directly onto the cable ends. The cables are then bundled into 4 larger cables which can provide a light source equivalent to a standard fluorescent 2 x 4 panel or a spotlight. Check out the demo video:

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