why is daylight so important in modern workplace by 0813 studio interior designers.

Workplace is important because you spend time there more than you realise.​ 

Most of us have to be in workplaces 9-5 Monday – Friday, which accumulates shockingly 65.5% of calendar days each year! Workplace now has become a broader term than 10 years ago. It is more than just office space, now it means any place anywhere you do your work, in a retail space, it could be your trading floor or back of house, in commercial space, it could be your open office space or any breakout area, as well as your home as I would be surprised if your company does not allow home office these days. With this in mind, we are more and more focusing on human comfort in workplace.

Daylight is one factor in workplace design that is not ignored anymore.  

When designing a workplace, the first thing to consider used to be functionality and occupancy space ratio. I have lost count how many old workplaces that were so dark and occupants all just had nothing good to say about the space. Nowadays,  workplace design criteria is broad and multi-layered. Daylight is one of them that many designers and clients focus on.

Let’s first get the terminologies right.

Daylight does not equal to sunlight. Daylight, or the light of day, is the combination of all direct and indirect sunlight during the daytime. This includes direct sunlight, diffuse sky radiation, and (often) both of these reflected by the Earth and terrestrial objects, like landforms and buildings. Sunlight scattered or reflected by objects in outer space (that is, beyond the Earth's atmosphere) is generally not considered daylight.

Daylighting is lighting an indoor space with openings such as windows and skylights that allow daylight into the building. The amount of daylight received into an indoor space or room is defined as a daylight factor, being the ratio between the measured internal and external light levels.

Daylighting has been found to have positive effects on people’s general wellbeing - mood, behaviour and even hormonal balance, which results in happier workers, fewer illnesses, increase of productivity.

Here are some evidences:

A study published in the scientific journal SLEEP Volume 36, compared the health of workers in windowless offices to those working in offices with windows allowing a flow of natural light.

Compared to the group with no windows, workers with windows in the workplace had 173 per cent more natural light exposure during the workday and slept an average of 47 minutes more per night, as well as sleeping more soundly and waking more refreshed. Workers with windows had more energy and vitality and undertook more activity during the day than their windowless counterparts, who showed more daytime dysfunction and tiredness.

The report said: “These results demonstrate a strong link between workplace daylight exposure and office workers’ sleep quality, activity patterns, and general quality of life.” It suggested office workers increase their exposure to natural light through the day and that building design provide sufficient daylight exposure as it can improve workers’ physical and mental wellbeing. The study said: “Exposure to natural daylight has profound effects on factors such as mood, cognition, sleep, health and behavioural measures.

The study reported on research by the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago, which also clearly showed detrimental health effects on workers who worked in windowless offices. Compared to workers in offices without windows, those with windows in the workplace received 173 percent more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night. Workers without windows reported lower scores than their counterparts on quality of life measures related to physical problems and vitality. They also had poorer outcomes in measures of overall sleep quality, sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction.

"The extent to which daylight exposure impacts office workers is remarkable," said study co-author Ivy Cheung, a Neuroscience doctoral candidate at Northwestern University.

Light is the main cue influencing circadian rhythms. Exposure to natural light turns the genes that control an organism’s internal clocks "on" and "off." Circadian rhythms dictate: sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions. Disruptions of circadian rhythms such as experienced by workers who lack exposure to natural light is directly linked to sleep disorders. Abnormal circadian rhythms have also been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The study concluded that sleep disorders caused by lack of exposure to natural light had reached epidemic proportions.

Ivy Cheung and her colleagues at Northwestern conclude, “the architectural design of office environments should take into consideration how natural daylight exposure may contribute to employee wellness.”

There are other significant benefits of daylighting in workplaces:

- Energy cost savings - reduce your OPEX if you design smartly with consideration of other factors - climate, glare control, daylight factor...etc.

- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions - achieve good score in your green star submission

At 0813 studio, we have different methods and strategies to increase daylighting, decrease glare, design the most suitable illumanance for workplace.

For a free consultation, please contact:

Peter Wang

Peter.wang@0813studio.com

+61 466 20 0813

Several studies in this article have been referenced from 'Natural light is best in offices' from workingcarer.org.au

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director: Peter Wang MDes., BEng.

email: peter.wang@0813studio.com

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