Five "Intangibles" Impacted By Lighting

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

Five Intangibles Impacted by Lighting In looking ahead to 2014, the CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation notes that we are creating a culture of health. She says "we’ve learned there is a growing desire to invest wisely in human capital, and to create greater knowledge and more resources for corporate executives and community leaders who want to improve workplace wellness and community health."

Lighting is an important element of both wellness and health. The challenge comes when attempting to calculate the monetary value of lighting’s impact on these less tangible concepts. But the more our society as a whole begins to value overall wellness, the more incentive building owners will have to invest in lighting that will improve it.

Lighting has been proven to impact:

Although it is often difficult to put exact numbers to the productivity increases, quality lighting has long been known to impact productivity. Indirect lighting, low glare, quiet, light sources with good color rendering will improve a workplace, resulting in increased productivity but also in decreased absenteeism and better employee retention, all of which have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Certain color temperatures assist human circadian rhythms. Cooler, bluer light sources can increase alertness in people. Conversely, when you want to relax, look for warm spectrum lighting – more like sunset or fireside colors.

Employee Satisfaction
Giving employees control of their work environment has been shown to increase employee satisfaction. In lighting, this means lighting controls. At the very least, give them a light switch. Dimming allows for even more of a sense of control. With LED lighting, watch for the ability to adjust color temperature for the ultimate user-controlled experience.

The links between lighting and health are on the rise. Melatonin production is inhibited by white light at night, with all kinds of health implications, raising cancer risks being one of the most frightening.

A general feeling of happiness can increase by simply looking out a window. Sunlight, or lack thereof, is a cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The ability of certain lighting wavelengths to duplicate the positive affects of sunlight is well documented. Lighting contributes to wellness in other ways, too. Kinetic light or sparkle can provide a sense of awe and wonder. Just look at the popularity of holiday lights, candle light, or sunset at the beach. Duplicating that emotional impact with architectural lighting is a worthwhile challenge.

It is difficult to calculate the financial impact of lighting on these items, but even if we could, the challenge is compounded by the fact that lighting installation costs and payroll expenses come from separate operating budgets. What then? Integration may be the first step to getting better lighting for these intangible but important issues.

When will these intangibles impact the lighting that you install? Do you require ROI justification before spending money on lighting?


Lisa J Reed photo - Lighting Blog

Lisa J. Reed has been attracted to lighting (like a moth to a flame) for 20+ years. She is the Founding Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC in St. Louis, where she designs, teaches, and writes about architectural lighting.


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