In today’s business environment, it’s increasingly important to find new ways of achieving a competitive edge while reducing costs. Many of the largest globally-run companies realize that sustainable business practices can do both. Sustainability focuses on making the workplace healthier, and the business more efficient and profitable—creating value through environmental and social initiatives that foster continuous improvement in every aspect of the business. Like all business best practices, sustainability integrates both a company’s bottom line concerns as well as its need to have an environment which attracts, retains, and nurtures the top talent needed to grow the business.

The Daylighting Saving Plan

For many companies, reducing energy costs through increased efficiency is a major goal, one that aligns well with sustainability practices. In a truly sustainable work environment, lighting, HVAC, and water systems must not only operate efficiently and effectively but also promote a healthy and productive workplace. The question is—how to achieve this balance?

Daylighting is the design of buildings to leverage natural light from the sun for interior illumination. For most commercial buildings, electric lighting accounts for a staggering 35-50% of the total electrical energy consumption. Using daylighting to reduce electric lighting can save energy savings as well as cut a building’s cooling costs by an additional 10% to 20%. According to Gregg D. Ander in his article on Daylighting, many buildings can see total energy costs reduced by as much as one-third through the optimal integration of daylighting strategies.

Daylighting is good for the bottom line—but how does it help employees experience a healthy, comfortable, productive workplace?

The Healthy Light

It’s simple: investing in a healthy workplace improves employees’ health and well-being, reduces absenteeism, and creates a happier and more productive workforce.

Research has demonstrated that full-spectrum daylighting is associated with healthier, more productive occupants. In a study done at Northwestern, Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity, and Quality of Life (Zee, Cheung, Hui-Wang and Reid, 2014), concludes that there is a strong relationship between workplace daylight exposure and office workers’ sleep, activity, and quality of life. “The extent to which daylight exposure impacts office workers is remarkable,” said study co-author Ivy Cheung, a Neuroscience doctoral candidate at Northwestern University. “The architectural design of office environments should take into consideration how natural daylight exposure may contribute to employee wellness.”

The Power of Daylighting

The solution is clear: daylighting your working environment can lead to healthier, more productive employees—and reduce operating costs at the same time. It’s a double win for smart businesses.