What if we could create a sense of paradise inside our workplace throughout the year; providing the best sensations to our bodies and minds? Exposure to natural light while seeing a peaceful world around you creates such a sense.
Defining Paradise on Earth is fairly easy; an ideal or idyllic place or state where one’s body and mind feels extremely wonderful! Many people would agree that places such as Hawaii are the epitome of paradise; our senses are peaked by its natural beauty, warm sweet air and sunshine, bountiful fresh foods, and relaxed and invigorating atmosphere.
In the workplace, making the environment more comfortable while stimulating our bodies creates a work environment that is proven to promote creativity and increase productivity. To create a more idyllic workplace, we should examine the elements that help one get that sense of paradise.
In the study Creating the Productive Workplace, Clements-Croome states, “Improving the indoor environment will provide a high return on investment through productivity gains, health saving and reduced energy use. The benefits of improved indoor environment are improved productivity, increased profits, greater employee–customer–visitor health and satisfaction, and reduced health costs. The potential productivity benefits of improved indoor environment are so large that this opportunity cannot be ignored. There are indirect, long-term, and social benefits.” 1
Sunlight alone has a calming effect on our physiology. “Studies suggest access to natural full-spectrum lighting from the sun is critical to optimal health and well-being.” 2 “Office workers with more light exposure at the workplace tended to have longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity, and better quality of life.”3
D Clements-Croome adds that, “It is entirely possible to build buildings which enhance the environment and make us feel good…There is no reason why work environments should not be as satisfying as those that surround us when we enjoy leisure. Work can be comfortable but it can also be fulfilling and enjoyable. Sergio Altomonte, another daylighting expert, says “Daylight through windows can comprehensively meet the whole of the visual, non-visual and perceptual requirements of the people living and working in built environments, clearly enlightening both the task and the internal spaces, and providing the conditions needed for health and well-being..” 4
‘Daylighting’ is the design of buildings to leverage natural light from the sun for interior illumination. Daylight provides variety and stimulation during the day and it is widely believed that access to daylight reduces stress and increases productivity. Studies show that people overwhelmingly prefer working, learning, and sitting near daylight openings provided thermal or visual discomfort are absent. Considering we spend on average 90% of our day indoors, we really should look into how we can bring more beneficial daylight inside!
Thankfully daylighting design is available for both new buildings as well as existing buildings. Since the sun is constantly on the move, a combination of light redirecting and shading devices may be necessary to avoid inadequate lighting and/or glare and thermal discomfort caused by an ever-changing varying intensity the sun pattern.
Keeping in mind a case study by Saint-Gobain, a global manufacturer of construction and high performance materials, “For mankind, light has always been closely associated with warmth, safety, health and happiness… a visual connection to the outside world through exterior views is also crucial for an optimal sense of well-being.” 5 Since most natural light in buildings comes in through windows, it is also important to retain views when at all possible.
An integrated daylight harvesting plan which includes beneficial daylight and view retaining window technologies, reflective ceilings, and daylight sensitive dimmable lights will provide a better indoor environment—better lighting and views—enhancing the health and well-being of all occupants.
With proper daylight design, we would be well on the path to recreating paradise in our workplace all year round–providing the best sensations to optimize our bodies and minds!
1 Clements-Croome, D. J. (2000). Creating the Productive Workplace. Reading, Berkshire, England: University of Reading. pg 14-15, 18.
2 Abdou, O.A. and Lorsch, H.G. (1994) The impact of the building indoor environment on occupant productivity: Part Three: Effects of indoor air quality, ASHRAE Trans. 1, 100(2), 902– 913.
3 Boubekri M, Cheung IN, Reid KJ, Wang CH, Zee PC., (2014) Impact of windows and daylight exposure on overall health and sleep quality of office workers: a case-control pilot study, J Clin Sleep Med 2014;10(6):603-611.
4 Altomante, S, (2008) Daylight for Energy Savings and Psycho-Physiological Well-Being in Sustainable Built Environments. Journal of Sustainable Development, pg 12
5 Saint-Gobain, www.saint-gobain.com