Is lighting the next phase of grading your workplace?

How light impacts employees is a loaded question since much of the information is survey feedback. But lighting specifiers and customers nonetheless are turning an eye toward a holistic workspace design for employees.

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We often receive lighting case studies that are very interesting, but we just don’t have the resources to do a full write-up on each one, so you’ll find many of them in the Company Newsfeed section of our website. Recently, Hubbell Control Solutions announced a project in which it supplied tunable solid-state lighting (SSL) luminaires and controls to the new Washington, DC-based office of Michael Best Law Firm. With a new space to start fresh, the customer decided to evaluate its employee “wish list” and consult with lighting experts to find an optimal illumination scheme for users. You can read the full Hubbell Control Solutions case study as it was posted in the Newsfeed.

What I found noteworthy, beyond the hardware specified in this project, was a resource that Hubbell pointed to in its announcement — a whitepaper produced by the University of Oregon this past summer (which I hadn’t seen), titled “The Impact of Lighting and Views in the Workplace of the Future.” Again, we have been following and covering the research and implementation of human-centric lighting, or lighting for health and wellbeing, as an emerging application of SSL technology for some time now, and that includes integrating quality and controllable illumination in the workplace. But the U. Oregon folks in the Baker Lighting Laboratory and the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory have done a nice job collecting a lot of conclusions into one review paper on published studies (the funding for the paper was provided by Lutron Electronics).

In the executive summary, the authors pointed out that “both experimental studies and large-scale surveys show that daylight and views are desired by occupants and contribute to employee retention.” Although they did not specifically cite the WELL Building Standard Light Concept, many of the precepts are included in their analysis of studies on the potential positive effects of controllable daylight and electric light, along with views of nature, upon workplace employees.

Even as the authors observed that “facilitating occupant control of the visual environment and increasing access to daylight and views improves satisfaction, supports social interaction, and has the potential to improve creative problem solving,” they also were quick to caution that “successful lighting implementation is critical and must carefully balance occupant desires for personal control with intelligently designed automatic operation.”

The authors reviewed and summarized a number of impacts of lighting design, including glare control and visual comfort, making sure to note that “attempts to improve visual comfort could have a negative overall effect if they adversely impact thermal and acoustic comfort.” This was certainly in evidence with a recent project we were able to cover in our news, with some luminaires featuring noise-canceling capability installed in an open workplan to combat distractions.

We’re keeping our ear to the ground when it comes to these types of projects, as well as in the conference planning for Strategies in Light 2020. Industry insiders like Lux Populi’s Thomas Paterson will explore the psychology of light, while a panel will explain how various experts provided input to the standards process for defining safe and effective workplace lighting in 24/7 environments that impact shift workers.

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