Commercial Architecture February 2018 - 5
Yes, We Need Daylight
t a recent trade show, I was having a conversation about indoor air quality, daylighting,
and the other usual today's-buildings-are-so-
much-better-places-to-work topics. As the conversation
progressed we, of course, touched on the productivity
aspect. It was mentioned that much of the research about
daylight and air quality and the impact each has on productivity was getting rather long in the tooth. I agreed,
but thought to myself that the research must still be valid
because there hasn't been any widespread call for new
studies or questioning of the established work.
A couple of weeks after that discussion I received a
release from the people at View Inc., Milpitas, CA (viewglass.com), one of the manufacturers of dynamic glass.
The information described some new research they had
commissioned with Alan Hedge, professor in the Dept. of
Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell Univ.,
Ithaca, NY (cornell.edu). I won't drag you through his credentials. It's clear he's studied the workplace-design
ness benefits for office workers. Workers in daylit of-
While this was an independent project, it did compare
fice environments reported an 84% drop in combined
office workers in facilities that used dynamic glass with
eyestrain and headache symptoms, which often result
those in conventional-glass environments. Having experi-
from prolonged computer and device use at work and
enced dynamic glass from more than one manufacturer
can detract from productivity.
on sunny days, it would be hard to argue against the tech-
* More natural light translates to more-alert employees.
nology. Regardless of how your daylight is managed, did
Workers adjacent to windows that let in more natural
Hedge learn anything new? Not really. But he did confirm
what we've accepted to be fact about daylight/indoor air
quality and productivity.
light reported a 10% decrease in drowsiness.
* Enhanced individual performance is tied to natural
light. Workers sitting close to a window that increased
In his summary statement, Hedge tells us, "Our study
daylight exposure reported a 2% increase in productiv-
found that increasing the amount of natural light in an
ity-the equivalent of an additional $1,000 of annual
office absolutely and significantly improves health and
value per employee, assuming an average annual salary
wellness among workers, leading to gains in productivity.
As companies increasingly look to empower their employ-
Perhaps the most disturbing fact offered in the research
ees to work better and be healthier, it is clear that placing
is a statement that Americans, on average, spend approxi-
them in office spaces with abundant natural light should
mately 90% of their time indoors. 90%! That's simply not
be one of their first considerations."
right. As I write this, it's 10 F in Illinois with a stiff breeze
Here are some of the research specifics:
* Controlled daylight unlocks significant health and well-
Research supports research that
says we need more daylight and
out of the north, but I going to shut my machine down
and go for a walk. CA
Gary L. Parr
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