The Interdepartmental Neuroscience program of the Northwestern University in Chicago undertook a study titled, “Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity and Quality of Life” which concluded that there is a strong relationship between workplace daylight exposure and workplace experience and quality of life of employees.
Imagine being stuck at a desk with only artificial lights and never seeing daylight for most of the day! The thought itself makes one feel claustrophobic. And spending more than 9 hours everyday which is the average duration spent in the office could have serious negative impacts on health and the psyche of the employee.
According to the online journal SLEEP, workers with less exposure to daylight reported lower scores than their counterparts on quality of life and other measures such as physical vitality. They also scored lower in overall sleep quality, sleep efficiency etc.
Ivy Cheung, study co-author and a Neuroscience doctoral candidate at the Northwestern University says, “The extent to which daylight exposure impacts office workers is remarkable. Day-shift workers’ quality of life and sleep may be improved via emphasis on light exposure and lighting levels in current office as well as in design of future offices.”
The study concludes that, “the architectural design of office environments should take into consideration how natural daylight exposure may contribute to employee wellness.”
The Case in Modern Commercial Buildings
Though most commercial high-rises have glass facades, this does not necessarily mean that occupants get enough daylight as most times, glass can create a hotspot where the sunlight is let in and this would create temperature imbalances. And to avoid this most times, occupants always keep binds or curtains drawn to ensure temperature is comfortable.
If binds are not drawn, this could cause facility teams problems as requests for temperature adjustments pour in. But the problem here is that the same room with large windows could have differing temperatures at the windowless end and the side exposed to daylight. This could lead to thermostat wars.
Balancing Lux Levels
High lux levels could affect your employees’ health and productivity. A facilities’ choice of artificial lights could have a significant impact on the productivity and well-being of the employees.
According to a study by the American Society of Interior Design, 68% of employees complained/disliked the artificial lighting in their office. Either the lights were too dim or too harsh causing eye strain, headaches and discomfort. Fluorescent lighting in fact has been identified as one of the triggers of migraine headaches.
Achieving the Balance
So, how do you ensure that your building’s occupants receive a good balance of artificial light and natural light?
You will need to invest in a lighting automation solution that works to ensure the right lux levels at different times of the day and balances artificial light in areas where natural light is available. Different rooms and meeting spaces in the same building could have varying needs, therefore the solution needs to be able adjust and recognise this.
To overcome the problem of hot spots near windows, you would need sensors and a HVAC solution that maps the needs of different areas and regulates temperature based on building orientation and location as well.
75F’s Advanced Lighting Solution for example, senses and collects hundreds of data points from each zone, every minute and sends these to be analysed by the Central Control Unit and from there to servers in the cloud. Smart algorithms then analyse this data and create a lighting plan for the building.
The solution also takes individual preferences into consideration by empowering occupants with individual control of their zones through the Occupant App.
Poor building design is one the main reasons why the lighting could be causing discomfort to the employees and be energy inefficient. But with an intelligent solution that provides human centric lighting like 75F's system can counter poor design and ensure energy efficiency and occupant comfort by taking into consideration multiple factors such as occupancy, building orientation. weather etc. The 75F Occupant App also empowers employees with individualised control, enabling them to set the lighting to their preferred brightness!
Apart from ensuring employee health and productivity by adjusting lux levels, the solutions also offer the advantage of Daylight Harvesting. This means taking advantage of natural light where available to offset the amount of energy needed to properly light a space and accordingly reduce wastage. This results in energy savings.
The solution also makes monitoring and control easier than ever before as you can set schedules, create groups, lighting zone parameters etc through the 75F Facilisight dashboard. The solution therefore does more than on/off lights.
Read more about our Advanced Lighting system here.