Before the widespread use of electric lighting, our daily lives were dictated by the rising and setting of the sun. This meant longer working hours in the summer and shorter working hours in the winter. There was no use for alarm clocks or desk lamps; you rose when the sun rose and most work ended when the light faded.
Today, 127.6 million people hold full-time jobs in the United States, working on average 35 hours a week, most often from an office building. We spend the majority of our waking hours under fluorescent, stagnant lighting. Due to the commonality of office jobs, human-centric lighting has become a popular trend in modern office design.
What is human-centric lighting?
In the simplest of terms, human-centric lighting attempts to make the most of our bodies circadian rhythms. Light is one of the three primary influences on our circadian rhythms, along with food and temperature. Before electric lights, our bodies were in tune with the 24-hour daylight and night cycle. Now, with the use of electric lighting, our bodies struggle to maintain balance, affecting our sleep, focus, productivity and much more.
You can read more about human-centric lighting on our blog here.
How HCL impacts office spaces
A term often used in tandem with HCL is color temperature. As research surrounding human-centric lighting solidifies and becomes more credible, it is now commonly believed that blue LED lights stimulate and amber LED lights relax. A blue LED light ranges from 5,000 to 6,000+ kelvin, while amber LED lights are around 2,500 to 3,500 kelvin in color temperature.
The way these different types of lights are utilized in offices is to offer bright, blue LED light in the morning to encourage productivity, and warmer light during rest times, such as lunch or before the work day ends.
Yet there is thought to be more to HCL than just color temperature. Energy released by the lights, characterized by spectral power distribution (SPD), can also trigger biological responses. Two lights may have the same exact color temperature, but they will have completely different SPD curves, something to take into account when setting up HCL lighting in an office space.
A HCL Study and Results
Deborah Burnett, a principal and partner at Benya Burnett Consultancy, has created an office environment for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), using both LED and fluorescent lighting, in tandem with daylight, to see how color temperature and SPD affect employees circadian rhythms.
But how is this HCL practice performing? According to the ASID CEO, Randy Fiser, this lighting experiment appears to be benefiting his employees. His results come from anonymous surveys from 35 of his employees, and measure input on overall well-being, sleep and more. While it is still too early to tell what impact this type of SPD human-centric lighting is having on office workers, the initial results are positive.
While Burnett has declined to release information regarding specs for her SPD and CCT uses for the ASID, as each office and site would require customized plans, one overarching guideline she has used is reducing exposure to short-wavelength blue frequences. She states in an LED Magazine interview, “We don’t know all the answers scientifically or medically, but it seems to be that light at night with a short-wavelength presence of 20% and over seems to be the catalyst of what is directing a lot of the negative health impacts.”
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Posted in Human Centric Lighting
Tagged fluorescent lighting, HCL, Human Centric Lighting, LED HCL, LED lights, office LED lighting, office space, workplace lighting