David Hunt, MD of Glamox Luxonic, looks at the reasons why human-centric lighting should be a key consideration for any retrofit project.
As the deadline looms to phase out fluorescent lighting, installers across the country are busy installing energy-efficient LED lighting. At the same time, customers are increasingly seeking to connect their lighting and manage their fixtures using lighting control systems. It makes sense, as the combination of LED lighting and controls can enable them to save electricity used for lighting by up to 90%. What customers may not know is that lighting control systems, in tandem with tuneable LED luminaires, could make their employees more productive. Yes, you read that right. And not only productive but happier and healthier too. Let me explain how.
All living beings have an “inner clock” called the circadian rhythm, and humans are no exception. It’s what helps us to rise with the sun and go to sleep when it sets. The right light at the right time can influence everything from our sleep to how we feel and perform. For example, we all know, that we shouldn’t stare at computer screens or mobile phones before going to bed. This is because the blue light emanating from these devices can, after a while, suppress the body’s production of melatonin, which helps us to sleep.
The right light level, spectra, and duration of exposure to light can have a beneficial impact on people, both physiologically and psychologically. That’s why, in the Nordics, human-centric lighting (HCL) is a component of many hospital tenders. If patients sleep better, they tend to recover faster. A study at a general hospital in Korea found that the length of stay for patients with a better source of daylight was 16%-41% shorter. A Norwegian study in a psychiatric hospital revealed that tuneable LED luminaires that created a blue-depleted evening environment, helped patients to sleep 8.1 minutes longer and rapid eye movement sleep 13.9 minutes longer compared to patients experiencing standard lighting.
The idea that human-centric lighting can make people focus better and be more productive is well-researched.
Studies by the University College of London and VU Amsterdam and the University of Twente revealed that circadian lighting boosted people’s productivity by 20% and 12% respectively. Employees surveyed also reported that they had more energy and felt happier. While figures vary, programming light levels and spectra to mimic daylight has the potential to make a huge difference to the nation’s bottom line.
I don’t suggest that HCL will cure the nation’s productivity woes. It could be part of the solution though. From a business perspective, it makes good sense. We are already seeing forward-thinking companies wanting buildings to have people’s health and wellness at the centre of their design. Again, healthy employees equate to fewer days off sick and happy employees tend to be more productive – as much as 20% more according to research.
With the proliferation of lighting control systems, I believe that enterprises and local authorities should grasp the opportunity and install HCL in offices, hospitals, and care facilities. It stands to benefit the nation’s well-being, and bottom line.
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