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The Link Between Natural Light and Health

Research suggests exposure to daylight in the built environment creates significant health and performance benefits.

This past year, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found that employees working in environments with natural light recorded higher levels of energy than those in artificially-lit workplaces. The data reconfirms other studies that have shown that controlled daylight in built environments can reduce eyestrain which may lead to improved productivity.

Exposure to daylight at the right time of day also suppresses our melatonin, leading to more restful sleep in the evening. From treatment of depression to alleviating workplace stress, daylight in particular is a convenient means to positively impact human health.

In many cases, daylight actually provides greater benefit than electric light, but we must be careful in order to ensure functional visual performance. For example, uncontrolled exposure to natural light may lead to glare, veiling reflections, UV radiation, sleep disturbance, and thermal discomfort.

Our in-house Lighting Design studio has been working with architects and interior designers at NBBJ to incorporate optimized daylight into buildings since 2001. We’ve collaborated to design facades, fenestration, shading and building orientation for optimum daylight penetration.

For examples of how we incorporate daylight into the built environment in North America, Europe and Asia, check out the slideshow above. Research in this field is ongoing; follow the links below to learn more about the impact of light on human health.

(1) Lighting Research Center, Daylight Resources

(2) Heschong Mahone Group, Daylighting and Productivity

(3) Lighting Research Center, Light and Health Publications

(4) Advanced Lighting Guidelines, Lighting & Productivity