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Article Title:   Lighting Quality and Office Work: A Field Simulation Study
Year:   December 2003
Author(s):   Boyce, Peter R.; Veitch, Jennifer A.; Newsham, Guy R.; Myer, Michael; Hunter, Claudia
Place of Publication:   Troy, NY
Publisher:   Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


The question this study addressed was, 'Can different forms of realistic office lighting affect the performance of office work or the health and well-being of employees?' An office was furnished as a typical open plan workplace for nine workers, with perimeter windows allowing access to a view but limited daylight penetration. Two experiments were conducted. In Experiment 1, there were provisions for changing between four lighting installations:
  • Base Case: A regular array of parabolic-louvered luminaires
  • Best Practice: A linear system of direct / indirect luminaires, together with some wall-washing to brighten the walls, with the same average illuminance as the Base Case
  • Switching Control: The same as the Best Practice but with a moveable desk lamp having three manually switched light outputs, allowing the individual to increase the illuminance in the work area.
  • Dimming Control: Direct / indirect luminaires suspended over the center of each cubicle, together with the wall-washing system. The direct component of each suspended luminaire could be dimmed using an interface on the occupant's computer, allowing the individual to adjust the illuminance in the work area over a wide range.
Experiment 2 contrasted two lighting installations:
  • Base Case 2: A regular array of recessed prismatic luminaires
  • Best Practice 2: A linear system of direct / indirect luminaires, together with some wall-washing to brighten the walls, at an illuminance level approximately 27% lower than the Best Practice in Experiment 1.
We hypothesized that occupants would prefer, and would perform better in, the Best Practice condition compared to the Base Case, and that having control would result in a further improvement in outcomes. In addition, workstations were decorated using one of two surface reflectances, a light gray and a dark blue. This provided greater variation in vertical surface luminance, which previous research has suggested might influence responses to the luminous environment in concert with lighting system effects. The experiments were designed to test the effects of lighting systems on performance and well-being, as well as indications of the processes that might mediate these effects. What these processes might be is indicated in the Linked Mechanisms Map (Figure ES1), which evolved from the original RFP issued by the Light Right Consortium.
Keywords:   human factors/office lighting/productivity/field study

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