Lighting and Human Performance

When it comes to the world, we see it mostly in a visual way. Light processed by our eyes and brain delivers a perception. With perception being reality, does the way that a space is lit affect or alter reality?

The average American spends quite a bit of time indoors, with power-driven lighting. What most people don’t think about is the intent behind lighting design.

Lighting is created as well as designed, selected, installed, and controlled by people. Lighting can affect performance directly as well as indirectly. Lighting alters what we see and causes direct effects by changing stimuli to our vision or the visual system’s operating state.

When it comes to lighting’s effects indirectly, lighting works to create focus and guide attention, alter mood or behavior, and even alter the hormone balance of the body. Lighting must be for function, but with results in mind. The way that a space is lit can affect perception as well as how people feel about it.

Lighting and Health

lighting and productivityLighting can change responses on a physiological level and visual and mental perception.

1995 research by Doctor Levin showed that variable spectral power distribution was able to produce biological and psychological results, His research also put forth that around ten percent of the American population showed a sensitivity to fluorescent and metal halide lights, even causing migraines.

S.A.D. is also related to less light in the winter. Those who are seasonally affected can be treated by being exposed to levels of bright light daily to enhance feelings of well-being.

Productivity Versus Energy Savings

When it comes to renovating or redoing existing lighting, the replacement needs to be the same or better. Energy efficient lighting may reduce energy bills, but the wrong lighting may end up being a detriment to productivity.

A 1989 report from the LRI and the NEMA said that managers and owners were making poor decisions when it came to building lighting systems. The error was in prioritizing reducing costs over productivity.

Ultimately, the goal of a redesign should be to save on cost while keeping lighting quality at the same or an improved level. As employment typically outnumbers lighting costs by a fair amount, designing a system that generates more savings in costs but does not meet the goals of a work space regarding performance and focus, then that productivity that is lost can actually cancel out any financial savings and even exceed them.

The goal is to encourage productivity and use any savings from energy to try and upgrade the lighting to benefit employees and the bottom line. While management may not think productivity gains are necessarily required, many companies see the value in this and the long term thinking and benefit of this approach. You may save on energy, but an upgrade can increase results.

You can save costs with upgrades on energy while also enhancing productivity. It doesn’t have to be all one or the other. Light must be designed for people. With this in mind, corporations can not only generate savings but install a design of lighting that increases productivity and a feeling of well-being too.