Human Centric Office Lighting
I write this at midday on a slightly overcast Wednesday in May, through the windows to my left and right I can see large skies and fields, I watch the seasons change and witness the progression of the day. I am more fortunate than many office workers, whose desks are lit by artificial lights, on all day, every day, with no differentiation in light level or hue. Their body clock struggles to be kept in check.
The concept of human centric lighting came about with the discovery, in the early part of this century, of a photoreceptor in our eyes that uses the colour and light levels detected by the rods and cones, to directly affect our circadian rhythm (our body clock). The light that is emitted in blue wavelengths supresses the release of melatonin – one of the hormones responsible for making us feel tired. By providing white light with a blue component (mirroring bright sun light) we therefore increase alertness and attention. Conversely, by reducing blue light on our mobile phones in the evenings, then surrounding ourselves by the dim warm glow of a bedside lamp, we have less difficulty transitioning into sleep – giving our bodies ample time to regenerate and rest.
There has been much research done recently on increasing productivity in the workplace, in fact I would say that ‘productivity’ is the current buzz word in our industry; it is the main objective of our clients for their new office interiors. By replicating natural daylight in the workplace, we can achieve proven results in productivity.
Such is the success of LED lighting, that it is now being installed ubiquitously in workspaces. It is possible to provide a variety in intensity and colour spectrum to emulate the path of sunlight through the day, therefore providing the light signals that set our body clocks, even when indoors for almost all our day.
Innogy installed programmed LED lighting to support the circadian rhythm of their staff:
"At the beginning of the day the office lights mimic natural daylight, providing a useful energy boost," said Tomáš Michna, senior manager for facilities and services at Innogy.
"The light levels decrease until after lunch when we give another boost to help staff over the post-lunch energy dip. Workers can override the light settings depending on their needs, and the system can also be set to perform a specific task by using wall-mounted touchpad controls. These can also be used to raise or lower the window blinds.”
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CBRE boosted productivity by 18% when they introduced human centric lighting into their offices:
“The time-controlled lighting system features a ‘circadian-friendly’ lighting sequence, which varies the colour temperature and intensity during the course of the day. Employees are stimulated during the morning and early afternoon with high illuminance levels and cool indirect white light. At midday and late afternoon, the light levels fall and become warmer.”
I discovered Flex by Luctra at Clerkenwell Design Week 2017; a mobile floor standing desk light that is fully portable and can be programmed to fulfil the circadian rhythm requirements of individuals. Visit their website here