Thursday, June 23, 2016

Benefits of Daylighting in Workplaces

In an increasingly competitive business environment, reducing costs and overheads to improve profitability is a major focus. Each industry will have its own imperatives to deal with in meeting this challenge. One common area for all of them is utility costs. Reducing these without impacting operational efficiency is the key. Increasing the use of daylight in the workplace is the way to do it. In fact, studies show that increased daylight actually improves workplace performance and productivity. Here are a few of the ways a business can benefit:

  • Maximizing the use of daylight can result in a significant reduction in energy costs.
  • Modern daylighting systems do not cause any additional heat transfer or loss, so HVAC operation costs are not affected.
  • The human metabolism so genetically programmed to operate at its best during the day. An environment that uses artificial light during daytime disrupts this natural cycle and affects human efficiency.
  • A great deal of research has been done on the connection between natural daylight and human functioning. Among the findings have been:
  • Daylight improves the ability to focus and concentrate on work.
  • It promotes an overall sense of wellbeing.
  • A study carried out by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District found that people performed 10% to 25% better in cognitive tests when in a room with natural daylight.
  • Another study found that office workers performed 6% to 12% faster when working in a daylight environment. Click here for more information.
  • The same study found that there is a positive correlation between retail sales volumes and daylight.
  • Research done by the California Energy Commission found that daylight increases concentration levels and short term memory recall.
  • The U.S. Green Building Council has found that there is a connection between what is known as the Biophilia Hypothesis and workplace sickness. The Biophilia Hypothesis states that humans have an inbuilt need to be in contact with nature and the more they are cut off from it, the more their health suffers. Daylighting systems provide natural sunlight which meets the needs for contact with nature.
  • A study published in the International Journal of Energy Engineering concludes that people who work in daylight environments find their work easier to do, are more comfortable and are likely to have shorter hospital stays.
  • It has been established that sunlight causes the brain to increase its production of serotonin. This is a hormone that boosts energy, reduces the impact of pain and improves mood.
Providing people with natural daylight to work in is inexpensive and when the benefits and long term costs savings are added together, it pays for itself in a surprisingly short time.

Older structures often ignored the issue of lighting because the benefits of daylighting were not appreciated at the time they were built and artificial lighting was easily available and cheap. Architects and engineers today know the importance but often have to compromise to meet space utilization and other demands.  Wherever there is a building that can benefit from more daylight, there is a need for daylighting systems. Current daylighting systems offer the maximum efficiency, ease of installation and a significant return on what is a surprisingly small investment.