We’ve all been a victim of bad lighting. It’s the kind that triggers headaches, affects productivity and zaps our energy faster that we can turn off a light.
So, it’s no surprise that “visual comfort” is a big buzzword across the lighting industry because we all want lighting that helps create an environment where we can be productive, collaborative, efficient and happy.
For several decades, we’ve seen lighting do more than just its basic functionality of providing light for us to see. Across multiple industries, proper lighting helps save energy, improve patient recovery times and optimize work ethic. And multiple studies help us understand how light influences our mind and body.
Thus, lighting has multiple physical and psychological aspects tied to creating visually comfortable illumination including light quality, luminosity, source of light, distribution of light and its perception. But few (if any) lighting products are a complete solution, one that achieves the desired levels of each of the above factors while meeting the other important demands from the lighting industry: on-trend aesthetics, a small form factor and intuitive controls, among others.
And let’s not forget the growing demand of energy efficiency in buildings. Construction costs are rising, forcing more building owners to reevaluate building choices and select options that meet their budget constraints.
As our workplaces change, visual comfort grows even more important for employees to work productively and efficiently. How can visual comfort be achieved for the buildings of tomorrow? It requires the right lighting solutions engineered to support visual comfort and a strong understanding of how to design for visual comfort. Here’s what lighting designers should know:
Achieve the right combination of natural and artificial light.
Our eyes are naturally adapted to daylight. So, we almost always find natural lighting more comfortable than artificial lighting. Natural lighting impacts our physiological processes, including sleep, physical activity and overall quality of light. As more employers stress the importance of employee happiness to attract and retain top talent, it’s growing even more important for workplaces to incorporate as much natural light as possible. This can be achieved by creating greater accessibility to outdoor views and ensuring even distribution of natural lighting through a space, without dark areas or flickering.
Since natural lighting varies throughout the day, artificial light supplements to ensure continuous quality of light. But not every lighting solution has the controllability to mimic natural light. Choosing solutions that incorporate a wired or wireless control network can help reduce or enhance the intensity of light in a space, helping achieve a balance in the combined use of artificial light and daylight.
Create layers of light.
Today’s economy is constantly in flux, so it’s no surprise that more companies are holding on to internal human resources and piling on additional work and responsibilities to fulfil departments that are understaffed. This forces many employees across practically every industry to work longer hours. Too low of light levels can cause employees to make errors. And too much light can cause decreased productivity.
Layers of light – ambient, accent and task – are all critical to establishing the optimal amount of light in a space. But adequate task lighting is one of the most important factors to ensuring productivity because it provides the proper level of focused, bright illumination to perform specific tasks without strain. By mapping out the distribution of light, lighting designers establish visual comfort.
Consider the impact of the space’s materials.
Illuminance comes from all directions and reaches a given point where a specific task is performed. Values (in lux) very inferior or superior generate discomfort. Luminance corresponds to the different luminous intensities per unit area, emitted or reflected by the light sources and surfaces surrounding a space, or in short, it describes the brightness of light.
Openings in a space, reflectance of surfaces and orientation of the space are all factors that impact how light is perceived in a space. A solution containing advanced dimming controls ensures the absence of glare and high contrasts.
Visual comfort is complex, but multiple factors from establishing the right balance of natural and artificial light to considering the space’s materials contribute to creating visual comfort. And while multiple solutions may be engineered with features that conceal the lighting source to mitigate glare, creating visual comfort is in the hands of the lighting designer.
For lighting solutions that help mitigate glare, consider the new SLOT 1 from Mark Architectural Lighting™.