Mention daylighting and most people will think of energy efficiency. While daylight is fantastic for reducing your home or workplace’s energy consumption, it also has a rich history as a tool used by architects to create more comfortable environments.
From ‘expanding’ a cramped or cozy room to making flooring and paint look better, adding daylight to a room in your home or workplace has many benefits beyond the financial or environmental.
In this blog post, we’ll look at daylight’s importance in creating a comfortable office, from its value to architects and interior designers to the interesting visual effects an effectively lit space can have on our minds.
If you’ve ever watched an interior decorating TV show, you’ll know that there are three ways to make a room feel bigger: knock down a wall and expand it, install a mirror or – the easiest option – pull back the curtains.
Increasing the amount of natural light that flows into a room makes it feel a great deal more spacious and comfortable. There’s a reason luxurious hotel rooms and modern offices are designed with large windows – it makes them feel larger.
This perceived increase in the size of a room has a major effect on comfort. Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, in a piece on Architectural Lighting, notes that a source of natural light increases occupant comfort and has numerous health benefits.
Daylight has played a major role in architecture for millennia. In fact, many of the buildings designed hundreds of years ago follow better daylighting principles than those built 20 or 30 years ago, as natural light was the only light source at the time.
Daylight plays a role in regulating the human circadian rhythm
Many people who spend the majority of their time in artificially lit environments report feeling fatigued and tired towards the end of the work day. Interestingly, a large number of these people struggle with insomnia and other sleep disorders.
One reason for this is that natural light, which is frustratingly absent in many older office buildings and work environments, plays a major role in regulating the human circadian rhythm – the internal clock that tells our body when it’s time to sleep.
Exposure to daylight helps our bodies enter a natural cycle between the dark skies of the night and the brightness of daytime. It reduces afternoon fatigue and results in a more attuned circadian rhythm that reduces sleep disorder prevalence.
This is one reason, of many, that daylighting makes us feel more comfortable. We’re not just more relaxed and comfortable in naturally lit environments; we’re also far more awake, alert and synchronized with our body’s natural day-night cycle.
Daylighting makes workers feel happier and more satisfied
There’s no substitute for results, and the results many businesses have experienced after switching from workplaces heavily dependent on artificial lighting to naturally lit, energy efficient work environments speak for themselves.
Lisa Heschong, the managing principal of TRC Companies, reports that employees that work in daylit workplaces in the education, retail and commercial sectors are more satisfied and “report how they love working there.”
This happiness translates into improved productivity and results for businesses that embrace natural light. As well as improved employee satisfaction, daylit businesses benefit from greater employee productivity and increased total output.