Since our society moved into large-scale office buildings and turned on static high-intensity ceiling lighting, it seems that we never looked back. For decades, the notion of office spaces included not much more than what employees might need for work — desks, kitchens, comfortable chairs and bright lights. Yet as the concept of the workspace advances, more people are waking up to the importance of wellbeing facilities within the office. Yoga or meditation at work became the norm; healthy snacks and cycle to work schemes advanced, yet one crucial aspect of the modern office has been largely left untouched, and that is light.
How do certain lights affect us at various times of the day? When we spend our days indoors, the light remains the same at 7am as it does at 7pm, while if we were outside, or with sufficient access to natural light, the type of light we receive will change dramatically in colour and intensity throughout those 12 hours. We now know that 54 percent of the world’s population live in cities, with a very large portion of that figure spending 90 percent of their time indoors. We also know that light absorbed through non-visual cells in our eyes control what is known as circadian rhythms, which is our body’s mechanism of controlling energy levels and sleep. Not enough bright light means our body feels sleepy and ready for bed and in contrast, too much light tells us to be alert. So, if light has such a major impact on our sleep-wake cycle and in turn, our wellbeing, isn’t it time that our indoor spaces and the light that illuminates them support our needs?
Using LYS Technologies’ light-measuring wearable device and accompanying app, light is measured according to each user’s direct exposure to it; it is measured from a human level, in real-time. This means that instead of individuals adapting to static lighting inside office spaces — often at the cost of their wellbeing, with productivity being at a national low and sleep deprivation on the rise — we can begin to slowly adapt our indoor environments to our own circadian rhythm needs. It is simply not enough to measure light in an office from one light sensor mounted on the architecture; if we want to understand how the light is affecting human beings in a space, we need to measure the light they are receiving from a human perspective.
As we begin to further understand the importance of creating human-made environments that are receptive to our body’s needs (and how this, in turn, will improve our workforce, reduce sick days and curtail the financial loss this has on our economy) more and more innovators are bringing humans back to the foreground and beginning to find solutions that use cutting-edge technology in order to benefit us — and not the other way around. LYS Technologies will work together with BRE in its biophilic office project by measuring the light inside the office from a human perspective before and after the refurbishment. It will then produce tangible information on how the light in the space will affect employees and quantify the positive change it is set to have on energy levels, quality of sleep and in turn, general well-being.
The potential of truly human-centric circadian lighting solutions in offices is paramount, from tackling afternoon fatigue, identifying individual peak productivity times and assembling teams that work in tandem with one another’s rhythms in a 24-hour cycle, to guiding individuals to better light habits in the evening to boost the quality of their sleep. Technology has the power to synch us back with nature — we should be embracing this opportunity.
Follow LYS Technologies and our various collaborations with human-centric lighting projects on our website and through our thought-provoking reflections on circadian rhythms, human-centric lighting and the future of workplace wellbeing at http://www.lystechnologies.co.uk.
This article was written by Shira Jeczmien, Head of Content at LYS Technologies. It was originally featured on the website of BRE Group and can be seen here.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
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- BREEAM Internal and external lighting.
- BREEAM Reduction of night time light pollution.
- BREEAM Visual comfort Daylighting.
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- General lighting v task lighting.
- Health and wellbeing impacts of natural and artificial lighting.
- Lighting and health infographic.
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Issue support documents
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Issue support documents are written for named BREEAM Issues or sub-issues. More info. (ac) = awaiting content
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- BREEAM Sustainability champion
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- BREEAM Considerate construction
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 Health and Wellbeing
- BREEAM Visual comfort Daylighting (partly ac)
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 Land Use and Ecology
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