Bright, bold commercial spaces can be rewarding for the people who build them and transformative for end users
A growing number of people known as the 'indoor generation' can spend up to 90 per cent of their lives living, working, learning and playing inside, often in dark, poorly ventilated and unhealthy buildings. This has resulted in an increasing need for innovative and effective solutions that bring more natural light to the spaces in which we choose to spend the majority of our time.
The impact of daylight on circadian rhythms
While we have adapted to living indoors, we are essentially still outdoor animals and our gene code is designed for us to live in a natural environment. Prior to the arrival of buildings, our daily lives were determined by the availability of daylight and the qualities of light that signal changes in weather and time. Our physiological systems, especially our circadian cycles, were in harmony with these diurnal rhythms of daylight as were our emotional responses to light and darkness.
Light is a stimulant that alerts the brain and affects energy levels, alertness and productivity. A properly functioning circadian cycle also determines patterns of co-ordination, blood pressure and cardiovascular activity. It affects mood and influences social behaviour and cognitive performance.
The effect of shift work and a 24/7 society
Increasingly, our circadian cycles are being disturbed - advanced or delayed - by exposure to light at different times and our metabolism and behaviour patterns are changing as a consequence. We now live in a 'social clock society' that has become disconnected from the light and dark in nature. We are living and working in buildings that remove us from natural daylight, where artificial light is often around 200 lux and rarely exceeds 500 lux, levels that are insufficient to regulate our biological rhythms, which require 1,000 lux. The inability to provide the occupants of buildings with a well illuminated environment can have a detrimental impact on health and productivity and create a substantial burden on the individual, society and the broader economy.
The benefits of daylight for occupants of commercial buildings
The benefits of working in bright and well ventilated commercial spaces to our overall wellbeing and performance cannot be overstated. Research has shown that office workers highly value access to a window and to varying degrees of daylight. Even in darker locations within a building, occupants still express satisfaction with daylight levels as long as they can look into a daylit space. In a recent YouGov survey, 39 per cent of respondents said daylight significantly impacts their mood.
To find out more on how to design commercial buildings for improved health and productivity by utilising daylight, download a free copy of the Velux Commercial whitepaper Designing Daylight Solutions for Commercial Buildings.