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Natural commercial light construction for a happier work environment

Lighting is never an afterthought in architecture and design: solid walls and open space must find a functional balance with light and shadow. Not every corner is lit, nor should it. But many commercial construction projects overlook the value of incorporating elements of shade, natural light and ambient atmosphere in favor of wall-to-wall blinding fluorescent bulbs.

It turns out, wall-to-wall fluorescence is be as cost-effective in the long run. Bad lighting runs real risks: decreased productivity from light fatigue, higher electric bills, and higher rates of employee turnover. What is the solution? Consider these recommendations from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a research division of the US Department of Energy:

  1. Daylighting utilizes open spaces and innovative window design to invite natural light into a commercial space. The benefits of daylighting in commercial light construction extend beyond the energy bill to “providing a comforting space and connection to the environment [for] building occupants.” (1)
  2. Full-spectrum lighting is the healthiest alternative when electrical lighting is necessary. A vast amount of research has been done on the effects of light on human physiology, and all reports find the same conclusions: “Many functions, including the nervous system, circadian rhythms, pituitary gland, endocrine system, and the pineal gland are affected by different wavelengths of light.” (2) Full-spectrum lighting stimulates healthy functioning while limited spectrum artificial lighting creates background stressors leading to increased stress-related illness among employees.
  3. Variable lighting options within one space – daylighting, high washes and softer ensconced wall lights create different moods. Make every space responsive to the seasons, to events and even the time of day that employees will be using the space.

At Tangram, we take a holistic approach to architecture and design. Find more insights into lighting design at tangraminteriors.com or fire off a note directly to Tangram headquarters and let the witty repartee commence.

(1) Edwards and Torcillini, “A literature review of the effects of natural light on building occupants” published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. July 2002. pg. 2

(2) ibid, pg. 5