It would be hard for most of use to imaging a world of total darkness--or one in which we are forced to rely on artificial light produced by electricity. The small, localized glimmer of a flame--although perhaps natural--doesn't hold a candle to the benefits of the vast natural light that bathes the earth every day.
Natural light occurs as a byproduct of natural chemical processes. This is because when electrons get excited enough to jump an energy level and then return to their original energy level, the extra energy is released as photons, which are light. Light originates from stars like the sun, so solar light is the form of natural light with which people are most familiar and use most. It also can occur as a result of chemical processes on or in the earth.
Natural light has several benefits when compared to artificial light. The production of artificial light requires the consumption of some kind of fuel, such as coal or petroleum, to produce electricity. The consumption of these fuels produces emissions and other waste products. In contrast, no fuel is needed to produce natural light, since the light is a byproduct of natural reactions. Also, natural light--because it doesn't require fuel--is free. Resources for artificial light production are limited when compared to the chemical reactions that produce natural light.
Where It Is Used
Natural light can be used in many places, including schools and offices. It also is being incorporated into manufacturing plants in order to reduce costs. Solar panels make use of natural light on the roofs of homes, as well. The only problem with using natural light in these locations is that not every area in the world receives the same amount of sunlight throughout the day.
Natural light is used in many buildings primarily because it has the potential to make the building more energy-efficient and less expensive to operate. Buildings can be designed to capture the energy of natural light and use it to produce all of the light, and at least some of the heat and electricity.
The use of natural light also has other benefits. Students in schools with natural lighting perform up to 20 percent better on math tests and 26 percent better on reading tests than those in schools that don't use natural lighting, according to a report by the research and consulting firm Capital E, and sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers, the American Lung Association, and the U.S. Green Building Council.
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