The health and wellbeing of staff has come to the forefront over the last 18 months. Here Chris Chaney, Managing Director of Sunsquare, explains how daylighting should be a key factor in workplace design.
The word ‘company’ means a group of people and to keep a company happy and healthy the individuals must have a sense of wellbeing. On average, we spend 90% of our time indoors particularly at work and a healthy work space is essential to that feeling of wellbeing.
There have been many reports over the past few years on biophilia, the hypothesis which suggests that humans seek connections with nature, and its positive effects on our health, wellbeing and productivity. The more natural our environment feels, the happier we feel.
With a growth in academic research, it has been proven that the presence of the natural elements can have a positive impact on how we feel. It has been shown that daylight, for example, has a role in maintaining our circadian rhythms.
The Well Building Standard supports this idea that health and wellbeing should be integral to the design of a building, focusing on seven key concepts of a building’s performance and human behaviour involving air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.
The WELL Building standard emphasises the need for lighting to minimize disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm while enhancing daytime productivity and supporting good quality sleep at the end of the day. Natural light has many advantages over using artificial lights – the access to vitamin D to maintain healthy bones is just one, let alone the incontestable impact on our mental health. It is also very cost effective.
In a typical building, lighting accounts for up to 40% of energy consumption. Allowing more natural light to penetrate the building and controlling both the light and heat components of power consumption, will result in significant cost reductions. However, using natural light doesn’t come without some issues. Glare, overheating, variability and privacy issues can all cause problems. Architects are increasingly looking for new and innovative ways to address these while increasing natural lighting resulting in a surge in demand for rooflights.
Daylight it up
Building design now needs to control the admission of natural light into a building, reducing reliance on power consumption while creating a visually stimulating environment. Rooflights provide three times more light than the same area of vertical glazing while providing a much more even distribution of light, particularly in larger structures.
The effective area for natural lighting will only be within 6m of the wall containing a vertical window. Victorian terraces in city centres are often dark Dickensian places but can be transformed by the addition of modern rooflights to flood the interior space with natural light. Elegant changes to the appeal of a building redevelopment can be made even in a conservation area, taking a different approach to planning permission rules to provide a daylight solution even where a wall forms the boundary of the property.
Make it work
Rooflights work in both commercial and residential buildings and can provide an answer to dark spaces while boosting the health and wellbeing of the occupants and making them feel better about the space.
In 2013, The Royal Institute of British Architects launched a campaign — HomeWise — that called for government to set a minimum threshold for light (and space) in buildings which led to a new housing standard called the ‘Nationally Described Space Standard’ in 2015.
While this addressed the space issue – albeit in a voluntary capacity - it did not tackle the lighting issues.
It is hoped the WELL Building standard will lead the change in this area making daylighting possible in all buildings.
To find out more
If you’re interested in the benefits of daylighting and would like to find out more about how a skylight could benefit your property’s design, give Sunsquare a call today on 01284 846596.