The Economics of Office Lighting and Why Lighting Can Improve Productivity

“Human centric lighting (HCL) is aimed at providing the right light for our activities at the right place at the right time” - Maury Wright.  

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In the office setting HCL lighting will be used to create an environment that allows everyone to feel, work and be their best.  This encourages productivity, comfort and well-being because HCL is used to support the changing needs of the individual.  

There are many reasons for choosing HCL. The ability to create a comfortable environment increases productivity - and when employees are happier at work you have greater retention of talent.  The benefits of HCL include a health circadian rhythm, improved mood, greater visual acuity, improved productivity and may enable employees to sleep better at night, all with energy savings and sustainability.

So back to the 3-30-300 principle ($3 per square foot, operations/ rent $30 per square foot/ Payroll $300 per square foot)… Business owners and commercial operators can use lighting to improve efficiency in two parts of this model!  The simpler part is reducing operating costs and boosting efficiency by replacing outdated lighting with new, energy-efficient LEDs. However, the real opportunity to see gains is to use lighting as a way to boost worker productivity by using Human Centric Lighting principles.


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How is Lighting Measured & Controlled?

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Light is measured in temperatures and colors, the measurement used is Kelvin (K), the warm glowing incandescent lights we grew up with are listed as 2700K, with numbers increasing as the light gets cooler.  Mid-range is 3000K-4100K and gives the look of a cool white, with a sunny day blue sky measured between 5000K-6500K being a very cool blue light. Studies have shown that the cooler light increases alertness as well as improved mood, energy and may boost productivity and sales up to 40% and creativity up to 15%! 

When we are in blue light our melatonin is suppressed, we feel energized and are more productive, we are more alert, think of how you feel on a bright sunny day.  Light sets the mood, in areas where you are wanting to increase cooperation and a sense of comfort you will want a warmer light, in production areas a brighter, bluer light is needed. 

I have had the opportunity to work with employees who have ADA’s because of the lighting in an office.  Also, I’ve worked with people who are diagnosed with circadian disruption and have trouble getting to work in the morning, others who suffer from intense eyestrain and headaches.  All have been successfully remedied with proper lighting.

Since first writing this article I have also had the opportunity to provide a tunable lighting product for a person suffering from vertigo, he is very satisfied with the results.

Why is Natural Light Important to Humans?

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To understand why natural light is so important, we need to think of our ancestors.  Before we had electrical light humans spent 90% of their awake hours outside. Being outside they were surrounded by natural, dynamic (constantly changing) light.  They enjoyed the warm sunrises, bright blue mid-day lighting and then the warm glow of sunsets. Once inside they had the warm light from candles or fires.  

Our biological time clock, Circadian Rhythm, is reset each day by natural lighting.  As we fast forward to today, we are spending more than 90% of our time indoors under static (non-changing) light.  A study done by UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School found that the color temperature of the light source has the most influence on how we work.  They believe that it’s in our DNA to perform better under specific lighting.

Exciting New Research on Tunable Lighting at Care Center

In April I attended LightFair, an international lighting convention that meets every year.  The newest technology is shown their as well as 4 days of classes.  This past April this was held in San Diego.  I attended numerous classes in the newly created "Healthcare" category.  One that I was especially interested in was conducted by Connie Samla from SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District.  In the class she talked about a project in which the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was invited to participate.  This project involved a trial installation of a tunable LED lighting system in an ACC Care Center in Sacrament, CA.  The results are very exciting as the staff reported a number of health-related benefits.  These included a reduction in agitated behaviors, psychotropic and sleep medications were reduced for one of the residents, and a decrease in the number of patient falls which may be attributed at least in part to the change in lighting.  It was also reported that other residents were choosing the newly upgraded LED corridor to "hang-out" in.  

As I began Lumen Element my main question was, "what if lighting could make a difference in the lives of those living with Alzheimer's and other neuro-cognitive diseases".  This study and others that are beginning to come out support the idea that yes, lighting can have a positive impact on these individuals and others living in care communities.

To see more on this article:  click here

Sunflowers and Summer Light

It is the first of August and summer is in full bloom!  Sunflowers always make me smile and think of the beautiful days of summer.  Sunflowers reach for the sun, we could learn from them. 

I am making an effort to be outside and enjoying the sun and colorful skies as much as possible.  From my morning walks, spending time in the garden, bicycling and eating lunch and dinner outside.  I love sitting in my backyard and being entertained in the evening by the humming birds that love the flowers that I planted for them.  By being outside I am able to take advantage of the blue morning and early afternoon light as well as the yellow and reddening light in the evening.  I am sleeping better than I have in years and I contribute that to being more in sync with natural light and it’s dynamic, changing qualities throughout the day.  I have more energy throughout the day and am more productive. 

Just as the sunflower feeds my soul, I am experiencing refreshment from this wonderful world of light we are blessed to live in.

ipRGC

Our eyes are amazing and we now realize that they are for so much more than just vision.  In 2001 Intrinsic Photo Receptive Ganglion Cells were discovered.  In addition to the rods and cones which enable us to see colors and focus, as well as to make out shapes and contrast in dim lighting, these ipRGC’s have nothing to do with our vision. 

87% of our sensory information received is by sight, 50% of our brain is used for vision and yet within our eyes are also these ganglion cells, many of which we still don’t know what functions they perform.  We now do know that the ipRGC’s send information to the part of our brain associated with short term memory as well as our circadian rhythm.  These ganglion cells absorb light, especially blue light which is essential for the entrainment of our circadian rhythm (see blog on Circadian Rhythm). 

There is so much more to learn about our eyes and how they influence our health, with the discovery of these ipRGC’s we have gained the understanding that our eyes are essential for many of our biological functions. 

Circadian Rhythm

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Diagram By NoNameGYassineMrabetTalk fixed by Addicted04 - Wikipedia

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These are our natural rhythms that repeat in about a 24 hour day.  These are vital for our health and are able to get out of sync – just think of jet lag.  Our circadian rhythm is reset every day – this is called entrainment.  To reset we need bright light in the morning to signal the production of serotonin, and we need dimming light and darkness at night for the production of melatonin.  Both light and darkness are essential for a healthy circadian rhythm.

So many aspect of our lives are regulated by our circadian rhythm, our sleep, mental functioning, emotions, state of mind and many aspects of our immune system and health. 

How can we adjust and improve this essential part of our biology?  Bright light in the morning upon waking, being outside in daylight for at least 20 minutes a day preferably around noon time when the sun is the brightest, exercise, a shift in indoor lighting in the evening to a softer yellower light and avoiding the blue light from electronics for at least 1 hour before bedtime.  Sleeping in total darkness is also important and getting 8 hours of sleep a night, our ancestors before electricity got 10 hours. 

Some current research is suggesting that healthy sleep and a healthy circadian rhythm is an important factor in preventing many of the disease that plague us, heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. 

What If?

Just over a year ago this was the question that was the foundation for what would become Lumen Element.  What if light could enhance the lives of those living with Alzheimer's and dementia diseases?  What if light could give them and their families a little more time together?  What if light could decrease some of what are seen as difficult behaviors associate with those diseases?  What if light is an unmet need for these individuals?

These are also questions I began a presentation at the local Community College with last week.  What I have discovered in the past year is that light does have the ability to impact the lives of those living with Alzheimer's and dementia disease.  The research is being done and the results are amazing.  The right light at the right time of day has a positive impact on sleep, sundowners, agitation, caloric intake and more.  To see some of what I have researched check out the articles on my website:   Lumen Element  , I am adding more as they become available.

Another thing I have found is that light is important for me and for you for our health, productivity, sleep, learning and so much more. As with so many things the answering of one "What if?" leads to many more.

 

LightFair International 2016

Last week I spent 5 days in San Diego attending LightFair International 2016.  This is an annual lighting conference to show case the newest technologies in lighting.  There are many educational classes during this conference and this year was the first time that they offered a series on Lighting and Health.  I attended a number of these offerings and am so excited about what I learned and saw on the trade floor.  HCL- Human Centric Lighting is here!  Several vendors showcased their Tuneable LED's, which are able to be programmed to change color from warm whites to cool whites to more closely match outdoor light and enhance our circadian rhythm. The classes I attended had studies that showed improvement in productivity, in sleep, and in the lives of people living with Alzheimer's disease with the use of tuneable LED lighting.  So much of this knowledge and the products are cutting edge.  I am looking forward to more products being available for both commercial use and use in homes. 

Economic Impact of Longevity

I recently attended a Gerontology Conference where a keynote speaker from AARP spoke about changing the way we thinking of the our aging population.  He showed the positive economic impact that Seniors have on the economy as a whole and specifically on Oregon's.  It was a new way of considering the impact of our aging society.  The longevity economy considered the impact of households headed by someone 50 and above.  Consumer spending for this group was close to $60 Billion compared to households headed by someone under 50 at less than $40 Billion.  People over 50 in 2013 were 36% of Oregon'spopulation.  This economy supported jobs in health care, retail trade, accommodation and food services.  People within this age group also contribute significantly to Oregon's workforce.  33% of Oregon's workforce is over 50, 17% of which are self employed entrepreneurs, and 40% work in professional occupations.  This population is growing and will continue to have a major impact on our economy, in light of this study in a very positive way.  To see more visit: AARP States Longevity Economy