The HLB Daylighting and Sustainable Design team recently completed a review of lighting and its impact on the Circadian Rhythm – a hot topic in the healthy buildings movement. While there’s still a lot to resolve about the application of the science, check out what one of our experts had to say when we posed the ‘big’ questions to her. Darcie Chinnis of HLB Denver goes into detail!

Why is the mix of light and health so important?

There is no doubt that exposure to light impacts our health and well-being. What we’re really seeing is a push in the design community to put numbers to the effects – quantify what light does biologically to our non-visual systems, quantify how electric light and daylight can stimulate or suppress effects, quantify what the potential benefits or negative impacts might be. With advancements in our scientific, biological and engineering knowledge, the lighting industry is able to put numbers to what we’ve always done.

How can our clients benefit from our knowledge of light and health?

As of today, there is really no industry consensus on how much light of what type to apply to best support health of the various types of occupants. We can help our clients navigate the sometimes conflicting recommendations and standards, following a “do no harm” mantra.

How is HLB implementing this knowledge in the forefront of our work?

HLB is working diligently to stay on top of the latest research and design trends as it pertains to light and health, a moving target that takes a concerted effort to track. This enables us to share with our clients the most up-to-date information on best practices and standards that are emerging from the research community. Pair that with our track record of quality deign and understanding how to craft a quality luminous environment, and I believe that we can bring a unique perspective to the application of standards that elevates the results.

What do you look forward to in the future regarding healthy lighting designs?

People in buildings have always been exposed to light and there have always been health impacts. We’re just at an interesting nexus, where cutting-edge research is starting to craft a picture to tell us what we’ve done and how we can improve. There is a lot of fascinating research going on as we speak and the lighting industry is rallying around the need to build actionable results out of that research. I think we’re going to see some major shifts within the next few years, aligning research with best practices and technology to let us start to realize beautiful designs with attention not just to beauty in design but to the non-visual impacts as well.

Any advice for readers?

The science on this topic is relatively young and there isn’t yet scientific or engineering consensus on metrics and approaches. We’re on the precipice of big advances, but we’re just not there yet. The best thing people can do is to stay informed by reading reputable articles, attending webinars and lectures by the research groups, and by supporting the research institutions that are undertaking this important work.

 “I’m excited to see the lighting industry recognize that the health impacts of lighting, both positive and negative, are factors we should consider in our designs. Lighting isn’t just footcandles, it isn’t just energy – it’s something that supports people, and we need to recognize there are more ways that just allowing us to see that lighting can impact.”

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