An invention out of UBC's Structured Surface Physics Laboratory that channels natural sunlight into multi-floor office buildings will receive up to $2.1 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).
The patented Solar Canopy Illumination System collects sunlight on the exterior façade of conventional buildings through a specially designed array of mirrors.
Customizable "light guides" then bring the sunlight into the building to replace light fixtures. The light guides are integrated with dimming electric lamps that automatically supplement the sunlight when necessary.
"This is the first system to be practical for widespread adoption in standard office buildings," says Lorne Whitehead, UBC physics professor and inventor of the technology. "The system will not only bring natural light into workplaces but could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from lighting in commercial buildings by ten to 25 per cent."
The system can be retrofitted onto existing buildings or built into new structures.
A UBC spin-off company, SunCentral Inc., has recently been established to carry out six demonstration projects in Canada, including a prototype system that has already been installed in a building on the British Columbia Institute of Technology campus.
SDTC is an arm's-length, not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada that funds the development and demonstration of innovative, clean technological solutions. Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt and SDTC President and CEO Vicky Sharpe announced Friday awards to 16 projects totaling $53 million.
In addition to the SDTC funding, SunCentral and the Solar Canopy project have also received $2 million from the BC Innovative Clean Energy Fund and $2.4 million from a consortium of partners.
The Solar Canopy technology was developed with funding and support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and 3M Company. In addition, BC Hydro Power Smart provided funding and has been a key project partner since 2006.