Relamping for Productivity and Wellness

June 21, 2017

How lighting impacts occupant health and what to do about it.

Improper lighting leads to more than just annoyance and complaints. It can cause headaches, eye strain and other maladies that negatively impact productivity, as well as making it easier to trip over unforeseen obstacles.

If you’re getting complaints about lighting quality or quantity, take a step back and examine how your next relamping project can resolve issues and improve occupant wellbeing. Could any of these three problems be the culprit?

Glare from light sources needs immediate attention, as it can contribute to headaches, eye strain, fatigue and other maladies.

1. Overlighting/underlighting

Buildings are routinely designed with too much light to compensate for the lamps’ future lumen depreciation. However, until that happens, spaces remain overlit. Delamping – removing some of the lamps from problem fixtures to decrease the light output – can solve the problem but could also lead to uneven lighting, so delamp with care. If your lighting system allows it, dimmer switches in the area can also address the problem.

Read also: Quality of Light vs. Efficacy: Human-Centric Approach to Lighting

Underlighting may be the fault of older lamps that have simply depreciated too much, so if the lighting in the area is otherwise even, a simple replacement may do the trick. If uneven light distribution is also an issue, you may have to call in a lighting designer or another consultant for a more in-depth diagnosis.

2. Poor quality or color 

Lighting that negatively impacts occupants’ circadian rhythms can cause a host of issues. Artificial lighting can greatly hurt or help depending on the color temperature and light level, though indoor light sources do not produce a color temperature that works with users’ natural circadian rhythms.

Find out more: The Facts and Fictions of Tunable Lighting

Color-shifting technology can assist by emitting light in the mid-day blue spectrum, which simulates natural sunlight and improves both lighting quality and user alertness. This same technology is used to treat seasonal affective disorder.

3. Glare

Glare can come from two sources. Direct glare results when a light source is directly in an occupant’s field of vision and can be solved by simply shielding the light source from the person’s line of sight – for example, by using shades or blinds. Indirect glare occurs when light is reflected from a nearby surface into the worker’s eyes and can be tougher to address, as you can’t exactly put a shade on a computer screen. You can, however, move some lighting sources or reconfigure space planning to move people away from certain light sources.

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About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

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