Tubular Daylighting Solutions Enhance Recreational Experiences in Sports Facilities

Discover the benefits of daylight and how Solatube International is delivering

When designing modern, energy-efficient sports and recreation facilities, lighting plays a significant role, beyond mere illumination. But what exactly makes lighting so crucial in these dynamic spaces? Continue reading below as we explore the multifaceted impact of daylighting in enhancing functionality, sustainability and user experience within these environments.

Enhanced Well-Being

From professional athletes to rec league participants, one of the most profound impacts of day-lit sports facilities is the improvement of overall well-being for occupants. Studies show that adequate sunlight exposure plays a pivotal role in regulating our body’s circadian rhythms, promoting restful sleep and optimizing energy levels throughout the day. Furthermore, it can alleviate stress, improve focus and enhance overall health, all of which are crucial for optimal performance and enjoyment during physical activities.

Solatube Tubular Daylighting Devices (TDDs) infuse spaces with natural daylight, mimicking the outdoor environment and positively influencing mood and energy levels. This not only connects people to nature as they exercise but creates an inviting atmosphere, encouraging them to keep returning.

Prolonged Activity Durations

During the winter months, when daylight hours are limited, maintaining well-lit sports facilities becomes paramount to encourage clients to stay active for longer periods. Solatube TDDs ensure that indoor spaces remain bright and inviting, regardless of external lighting conditions.

TDDs start with domes that sit on the roof of a building and are engineered to capture sunlight from virtually any angle. The sunlight is then delivered deep within a building’s interior through a tube made of the world’s most reflective material. TDDs not only maximize the amount of natural daylight entering the space, even on cloudy days, but also diffuse daylight in places never thought possible, overcoming limitations often associated with windows and traditional skylights in both new and retrofit applications.

Sullivan Community Center and Family Aquatic Center

Chicago’s reputation for gray winters underscored the importance of effective daylighting during the renovation of the Sullivan Community Center and Family Aquatic Center. The challenge lay in illuminating the gym, which stood at an imposing 26-foot height. To address this, the architects turned to our Solatube M74 DS SkyVault Series with SkyVault Amplifier extension. As a result, the gym now boasts vibrant, evenly diffused daylight with minimal impact on the integrity of the building envelope.

“Many members request to specifically and solely use the newer gym with the Solatube units because it’s much livelier and brighter. They also request that we turn the lights off during the day because, honestly, we don’t need them at all.”
Matt Dewitt, Rec Supervisor, Vernon Hills Park District.


Providing consistent lighting in sports and recreational facilities can be challenging due to the varied functions of such spaces and the specific lighting needs for different activities and levels of competition. To provide both form and function, we offer a diverse range of daylighting solutions and accessories to meet the unique needs of various sports facilities. Whether it’s a small community gym or a sprawling stadium, TDDs can be customized to provide consistent and optimal lighting, ensuring superior visibility and comfort.

2008 Olympics: Beijing Science & Technology University Gymnasium

For the 2008 Beijing Olympics, architects aimed to meet the theme of the “World’s First Green Olympics” when adapting the Beijing Science & Technology University Gymnasium. To do so, they searched for a versatile daylighting solution, given the impracticality of traditional skylights due to the gymnasium’s structure. As a workaround, architects installed 148 Solatube SolaMaster 750 DS TDDs.

“Compared with traditional lighting systems, Solatube Tubular Daylighting Systems have a unique advantage with a better-progressed view and a wide application field. They reduced power usage and exceeded our environmental design goals.”
Weimin Zhuang, Architect, Dean, Architecture Design Institute of Qinghua University

Storm Shelters

In discussing versatility, sports and recreational facilities often serve as storm shelters for the community. This presents a unique challenge: designing and constructing shelters that prioritize occupant safety while recognizing that the vast majority of their use will be for other purposes.

While traditional forms of daylighting, such as windows, struggled to pass the impact testing. However, our SolaMaster 750 DS-O/C products have successfully achieved compliance with ICC 500 and FEMA P-361 standards. This means that building owners and architects can avoid a trade-off between budget constraints and effectively illuminating a space.

The Broken Arrow Public Schools Gym

This became particularly relevant during the design of the state-of-the-art gym at Broken Arrow Public Schools’ new elementary school. The gymnasium, a focal point of the school, also serves as a storm shelter built to ICC 500 code requirements. This 6,580-square-foot shelter provides a safe haven during high winds for the school and the community.

With daily use for activities such as physical education classes and assemblies, the school district sought a daylighting solution that could be integrated into the space. Compliant for use in ICC 500 storm shelters and FEMA P-361 safe rooms, six Solatube SolaMaster 750 DS-O Systems were selected as an affordable solution for the project. TDDs effectively illuminated the space, ensuring the year-round benefits of daylight for occupants.

No Glare and Harmful UV Rays

Solatube TDDs are designed to prevent glare during peak daylight hours. How? Our RayBender® 3000 dome technology filters out overpowering midday rays. This provides consistent daylight from morning through late afternoon and prevents visual discomfort and squinting. Additionally, our unique optical diffuser lenses precisely shape light output, placing light where it is needed and desired for a balanced visual environment.

Our optical domes prevent virtually all UV wavelengths from entering the TDD system. This is important because UV light can have a negative impact on building materials it contacts—like carpet, clothing, furniture, paint and artwork from sun damage.

Enhanced Performance, Sustainability and Energy Efficiency

Solatube TDDs are renowned for their seamless design and durability, ensuring unparalleled performance in any environment. Solatube TDD roof penetrations are also much smaller than traditional skylights, minimizing the risk of leaks, reducing maintenance needs and preserving the integrity and insulation of the building envelope. This ensures a more energy-efficient and comfortable indoor environment while reducing the risks of air infiltration and water damage.

Furthermore, Solatube deployments significantly reduce energy consumption for interior lighting during daylight hours, lowering electrical energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation. TDDs also boast unmatched thermal performance due to their INFRAREDuction™ technology and Spectralight® Infinity tubing, which filters out infrared wavelengths, minimizing solar heat gain and maximizing daylight transmission.

The Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Complex

Energy efficiency was a top priority for SPF Architects during the design of the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Complex. Constructed by adapting two pre-engineered metal structures, the architects faced the challenge of meeting sustainability goals while maintaining functionality. In a creative approach, TDDs were seamlessly integrated into the existing buildings, flooding the facility with natural daylight throughout the day without the need for artificial lighting. This innovative solution not only contributed to achieving LEED Silver certification but also ensured a well-lit and environmentally friendly environment for all occupants.

Are you ready to transform your sports or recreation facility with the power of the sun?

Set up a free consultation with our team of daylighting experts by calling 888.SOLATUBE or visit Solatube.com/commercial to find your local distributor.