Did you know that variable LED lighting promotes employee well-being?
Light-enhanced environments can offset some of the negative effects of working inside and can even reduce stress and depression in the workplace.
In this article we’ll cover specifics on why this works and how you can best use variable LED technology to achieve those results in your own workspace.
How Warm and Cool Light Work in Nature
If you’ve ever heard of the Golden Hour, you’re already one step closer to understanding this concept.
In fact, you’ve probably noticed on at least one occasion, that things just look a touch more beautiful when the sun is low in the sky.
Landscape artists, photographers, and cinematographers love to work at this time of day, and for good reason. When the light is at lower angles, it tends to wash over the environment and objects more evenly.
At these angles, light catches mountain ranges and tree lines from top to bottom with even intensity. It’s also worth noting that the light itself has a warmer quality. For our purposes we’ll call this kind of light, Warm White.
As the day continues and the sun rises higher in the sky, light temperatures also rise into ranges that we’ll call Cool White from now on.
Finally, by the time the sun reaches its peak at noon–light will have reached its highest temperatures: Daylight.
The aforementioned temperatures activate functions in the mind and body.
Scientists have proven time and again that there are no shortage of ways in which light can be harnessed to improve our overall health. There’s phototherapy, chronotherapy, and chromotherapy to name just a few.
This is so important because according to research, “the average American spends 87% of their time indoors and another 6% in an enclosed vehicle.” Under these conditions, light deprivation can have a serious impact efficiency.
In Daylighting for Sustainable Design, author Mary Guzowski explores the use of natural light to address health and well-being. The right light quality and intensity can actually help your mind and body maintain a strong connection to your surroundings, including an awareness of the passing of time.
We have all experienced the deception of time. Depending on the activity or task, minutes can seem like hours and hours minutes. – Mary Guzowski
How Humans Respond to Warm and Cool Light
Let’s first cover the most basic reactions we have to the different kinds of light.
Warm light promotes the manufacture of Melatonin. Cool light promotes the manufacture of Cortisol.
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland. One of the many things it does, is help our bodies synchronize with the daylight and darkness to promote a healthy sleep rhythm.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal cortex. It activates anti-stress and anti-inflammatory responses. It also helps with balancing our immune functions.
Here’s a chart on the average correlation between cortisol levels and melatonin levels throughout the day.
What are the Different Light Temperatures?
Industry experts base lighting temperatures (Warm, Cool and Daylight) upon the color of the light produced. Different colors are produced by metal in the bulb being heated to different temperatures.
Daylight (Blue-White) is produced between 4,600 to 6500 degrees Kelvin.
Cool White (White) ranges between 3,100 and 4,600 degrees Kelvin.
Warm White ranges up to 3,000 degrees Kelvin.
Different Lighting Can Enhance Learning and Boost Business
Sometimes, facility design limitations won’t allow for much natural sunlight to enter a work space. In these cases, adjustable LED lighting can really help fill the gap. The following workspace lighting recommendations are based on Philips Tunable White LED lighting solution.
Warm White – Light of a lower intensity is suitable for presentations and collaboration. It generally causes people to relax and become calm. As you can imagine, this type of lighting creates an environment ripe for creativity and brainstorming.
Cool White – Middle intensity light is better for people who need to carry out routine business. Without being overstimulating, it is still more calming than daylight.
Daylight – High intensity light is called for when a team or an individual needs to really focus in on either a major task or an exceedingly complicated problem. By promoting intense focus, daylight makes itself almost essential for in-depth learning sessions and troubleshooting deep-dives.
Long Term Benefits from Light Adjustment in Work Spaces
As we remember from earlier in the article, people often spend up to 93% of their time indoors. As such, it’s important that we do everything we can to offset the effects of stagnant and unnatural light.
The U.S. Department of Energy did some interesting research and published its findings on “Daylighting” offices.
In buildings where daylighting is not or cannot be integrated, using full-spectrum bright lights has been shown to positively affect the workers in the buildings. Full-spectrum bright lights allow day and night workers to adjust their internal clocks or circadian cycles to match their work cycles. Improvements in productivity, a decrease in accidents, an increased level of mental performance, improvements in sleep quality, and an increase in morale among night shift workers have also been attributed to better lighting. – U.S. Department of Energy
By optimizing safety in hazardous indoor areas like warehouses, LED installations can help keep people safe on the job.
Now that you understand some of the potential improvements adjustable LED lighting can bring to your company and clients, here are a few pointers on how to build a proper setup.
What to Include in a Lighting Retrofit
Make sure your set-up has features access to the control panel through an app. That app will allow you to adjust and monitor workspace lighting from pretty much anywhere through your smartphone or any IP device. Implementing this type of system will save you lots of time and energy down the road.
Also, when you’re actually having LED lighting installed, be sure to connect the lighting system with a twisted pair ethernet cable (Cat5 or better) wherever cabling is required. Doing so will ensure your ability to connect to a load controller and other interfaces. It will also enable powering other networked units through the same cable via PoE.
Using light to stimulate the production of Cortisol and Melatonin in the human body can dramatically improve work experience and productivity levels.
Given the boost to learning and collaboration these systems provide, it should come as no surprise that the number of organizations (such as schools and businesses) tapping into LED technologies is rapidly growing.