Our Pillars - Light

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The Wellbeing Experience’s mission is to highlight how the built environment can affect our health, and central to this message are the eight pillars of wellbeing.

The pillars are important because they represent the factors affecting the human body in the built environment. This month we will be focusing on our first pillar, light. Humans are continuously sensitive to light, both natural and artificial, so it is unsurprising that good lighting is essential to employee comfort and productivity. This is especially true in the winter months when daylight is naturally depleted, and daylight hours last for as little as eight hours.

Light has a huge impact on our day to day lives and is aligned to human alertness and moods. It includes a complex mix of light intensity, colour and glare, and any imbalance in these variables can affect wellbeing both in and out of the workplace. Artificial lighting is the primary form for humans in a work environment, and many rely on it when there is little or no access to natural light or no nearby windows (if at all). A survey by HR advisory firm Future Workplace, found that the absence of natural light and outdoor views negatively affects the employee experience, so much so that 47% of employees admit they feel tired or very tired from the absence of natural light or a window at their office, and 43% report feeling gloomy because of the lack of light.

To combat these problems, the British Council for Offices (BCO) has pledged to encourage offices to use daylight effectively and use artificial lighting only where and when it is needed. For offices, especially smaller ones with an abundance of windows, this is a manageable target. But for others it can be a challenge, and nigh on impossible for very large corporate offices where desks are spread widely. Although when correctly installed, using a workplaces’ contextual data, artificial lighting can compensate for the lack of natural light.

As part of this effort, we have partnered with Helvar, a world leader in lighting intelligence and pioneer of lighting for wellbeing purposes. As part of their mission for Human Centric Lighting, they design lighting that adjust to any space and situation, using warmer light with lower intensity in the morning and evenings, and cooler light during a typical working day. This cooler, often dubbed ‘blue’, light helps us to feel more awake and energised, which is why it is so effective in offices during working hours. Helvar has also developed the iC Networked Solution, also known as Light over Time, which combined with the Designer iC Software makes it easier to pick the right colour for each luminaire within the lighting network.

We are grateful to be working with Helvar and look forward to showcasing our work with them when the exhibition opens in the spring.