Lighting Research Center Lighting Research Center
Light & Health

Office Lightingoffice lighting

Lighting design for office buildings has focused largely on the amount of light for work, strategies to reduce visual discomfort, and the use of daylight as a means to reduce energy in buildings. Little attention has been given to understanding the experience of light, especially how it affects occupants’ psychological and physiological systems, including circadian functions that regulate sleep, mood, and alertness. If health benefits are identified, this could have far reaching effects on sustainable lighting design as a means to achieve energy goals as well as to enhance the health and wellbeing of office workers, improve overall work effectiveness, and reduce long-term health problems associated with circadian disruption, including sleep problems, mood disorders, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

 

Lighting in Federal High-Performance Green Buildings

In 2013, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) awarded a contract to the LRC to study the correlation of daylighting with health and wellbeing, to assess the building occupant experience of light, and to identify health outcomes linked with measured light exposure in Federal High-Performance Green Buildings. For this project, LRC researchers used the Daysimeter, a calibrated, personal light and activity sensor that continuously records and stores data for measuring circadian light (circadian stimulus or CS), that is, light that affects the circadian system. LRC researchers also conducted photometric measurements to assess the potential for CS in the buildings. The LRC is now developing CS guidelines to implement in buildings.

Several buildings were evaluated during different seasons. Results reports follow:


Wayne N. Aspinall Federal BuildingWayne N. Aspinall Federal Building: Grand Junction, Colorado

Results Report: Facility Lighting – Summer, Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building, Grand Junction, Coloradopdf logo

Results Report: Facility Lighting – Winter, Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building, Grand Junction, Coloradopdf logo

Results Report: Measuring Personal Light Exposures, Health, and Wellbeing Outcomes, Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building, Grand Junction, Coloradopdf logo


Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal BuildingEdith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building: Portland, Oregon

Results Report: Facility Lighting – Late Spring, Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, Portland, Oregonpdf logo

Results Report: Facility Lighting – Winter, Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, Portland, Oregonpdf logo

Results Report: Measuring Personal Light Exposures, Health, and Wellbeing Outcomes, Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, Portland, Oregonpdf logo


Federal Center South BuildingFederal Center South Building: Seattle, WA

Results Report: Facility Lighting – Winter, General Services Administration, Federal Center South, Seattle, Washingtonpdf logo

Results Report: Measuring Personal Light Exposures, Health, and Wellbeing Outcomes, Federal Center South, Seattle, Washingtonpdf logo

 


GSA Central Office BuildingGSA Central Office Building: Washington, DC

Results Report: Facility Lighting – Summer, General Services Administration Central Office Building, Washington, DC pdf logo

Results Report: Facility Lighting – Winter, General Services Administration Central Office Building, Washington, DC pdf logo

Results Report: Measuring Personal Light Exposures, Mood, and Sleep Quality, General Services Administration Central Office Building, Washington, DC pdf logo


GSA Regional Office BuildingGSA Regional Office Building: Washington, DC

Results Report: Facility Lighting – Summer, General Services Administration Regional Office Building, Washington, DCpdf logo

Results Report: Facility Lighting – Winter, General Services Administration
Regional Office Building, Washington, DC
pdf logo

 


GSA Regional Office BuildingLighting Guidelines Field Demonstrations

Methodology Report: Lighting Guidelines Field Demonstrations –
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, White River Junction, Vermont; Federal Highway Administration, Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, McLean, Virginia
pdf logo

 

 


Research Papers and Posters

Figueiro MG, Steverson B, Heerwagen J, Kampschroer K, et al. 2017. The impact of daytime light exposures on sleep and mood in office workers. Sleep Health. Volume 3, Issue 3, pp. 204-215.

    Sponsor: U.S. General Services Administration

Office Lighting and Personal Light Exposures in Two Seasons: Impact on Sleep and Mood  pdf logo

Daylight in Office Buildings: Impact of Building Design on Circadian Light Exposures  pdf logo

Lighting in Federal High-Performance Green Buildings pdf logo

 

Circadian Stimulus Calculator

Sample: Circadian stimulus calculatorThe Lighting Research Center developed a circadian stimulus (CS) calculator to determine CS for any combination of source type and light level in photopic lux. The calculator is available here. This tool was designed to help lighting professionals select light sources and targeted photopic light levels that will increase the potential for circadian light exposure in a building.

Please note that clicking this link will directly download a Microsoft Excel file to your computer or device.

 

Circadian Stimulus Charts

Office layout graphicThese look-up charts provide a quick and easy way to estimate the potential average circadian stimulus (CS) value in a space using conventional lighting metrics.

Media Coverage

LRC research on office lighting has been featured in various media reports. For more featured media, visit our Newsroom.


Morning daylight exposure tied to a good night's sleep
Reuters - May 18, 2017
Workers who are exposed to sunlight or bright indoor lights during the morning hours sleep better at night and tend to feel less depressed and stressed than those who don't get much morning light, according to a recent study by the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Beyond The Task Of Illumination
Facility Executive magazine - April 2017
Americans spend more than 90% of their time indoors, yet little attention has been given to understanding how light affects health in the built environment. A team of researchers at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is working to change that.


Scientists Say This Simple Little Office Hack Will Increase Your Productivity
Money - April 3, 2017
You've probably heard of circadian rhythms, the natural body cycles that help us to do things like fall asleep at nighttime and be active during the day. Now, a group of researchers are working to manipulate those rhythms to make us more productive at work.


To improve your productivity, paint your office this color
MarketWatch - April 1, 2017
Color – specifically, colored lighting – can affect productivity, according to an extensive body of research by Mariana Figueiro, a professor at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


The Rhythm of Light: Circadian Lighting Supports Health and Wellbeing in the Office Environment
Retrofit magazine - March/April 2017
In a project funded by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), LRC researchers are investigating how to effectively use electric lighting to ensure that every worker receives enough light during the day to support health and wellbeing in the office environment.


Quantifying Circadian Light and Its Impact
Architectural Lighting - February 2017
In the most recent issue of Architectural Lighting magazine, LRC scientists Mariana Figueiro and Mark Rea explain how to quantify circadian light and its impact. The article was also published online, and quickly rose to become one of the most popular and widely-shared on the magazine's website.


How to design circadian lighting - by top scientists
LUX Magazine - December 2016
US scientists have developed a special tool to help designers create lighting installations which affect the sleep-wake cycle.


SIL Conference session to focus on the effects of lighting on health
LEDs Magazine - November 11, 2016
At the upcoming Strategies in Light conference (Feb. 28 - March 2, 2017; Anaheim, CA) the lead speaker in the Non-Visual Effects of Lighting session will be Dr. Mariana Figueiro, LRC Light and Health Program Director. In this essay, Dr. Figueiro highlights some of the topics she will discuss in her SIL conference presentation, including healthy lighting for adolescents, older adults, office workers, and night-shift workers.


Designing with Circadian Stimulus
LD+A - October 2016
The Lighting Research Center proposes a metric for applying circadian light in the built environment.


The science behind why office lighting feels like it can make or break your day
Quartz - Aug. 7, 2016
"It's a long putt from lighting to mood. There are a lot of things in between we don't fully understand," says Mark Rea.


Circadian Lighting [video]
National Lighting Bureau - Nov. 29, 2015
Panel discussion featuring LRC Professor Mariana Figueiro, Kevin Kampschroer of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and Mary Beth Gotti of GE Lighting.


Finally: Sunlight in the Office Cubicle
The Wall Street Journal - March 2, 2015
James Hagerty interviews Russ Leslie for this article on daylighting in office buildings.


TEDMED: Mariana Figueiro - May 5, 2015
How can we harness the power of light to improve health? Mariana Figueiro, Light & Health Program Director at the Lighting Research Center, explains in her TEDMED talk. Watch the video. For more information, also see Dr. Figueiro's TEDMED guest blog post.


View a list of publications, journal articles, and conference papers on light and health issues by Lighting Research Center scientists.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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