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Workplace and employee wellness

This week I’m sharing some research about the future of the workplace – including lighting of course!

This excellent article reviews the implications of hybrid working for office design with a focus on energy use – The office of the future: Operational energy consumption in the post-pandemic era.

This paper looks at design more specifically How Office Design Can Impact Recruitment and Retention. And these scientific papers give some more specific context, pointing out the relationship between perception of the lighting and perception of the space – Creating positive atmosphere and emotion in an office-like environment: A methodology for the lit environment and Impact of lighting arrangements and illuminances on different impressions of a room

It’s not about artificial lighting of course. Daylight is always going to be the gold standard. The problem is that glare can be a real issue. This paper found that optimising daylighting and views, compared with an office with traditional blinds, shifted the cognitive performance of office workers on average from the 52nd percentile to 65th percentile… equivalent to a $11,809 difference in salary per person per year…’ It goes on to explain that, when conservatively accounting for the number of employees working within 15 ft of a window with blinds, optimising daylight and views in U.S. offices has the potential to generate $352B ($240B–$464B), or 1.7% of the 2018 U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), in additional productivity… ‘ 

And this research confirms the preference for daylight and improved performance even in a virtual reality environment – Towards user centered building design: Identifying end-user lighting preferences via immersive virtual environments

The recent EN12464-1 standard calls for higher light levels in the workplace – which many argue flies in the face of our urgent need to cut energy use. This article suggests that simply giving us, the users, control over light levels, including our natural preference for daylight – could be a win-win: energy consumption went down by 17.5% while perceived productivity and satisfaction went up – Impact of occupant autonomy on satisfaction and building energy efficiency

The issue of controls is a thorny one. This refreshingly honest article reviews a retrofit in an administrative building in the States where they invested in a sophisticated high-performance lighting system but the commissioning process was problematic and the final result was far from ideal.. – Reflections on a retrofit: Organizational commitment, perceived productivity and controllability in a building lighting project in the United States

And this week I’ve been thinking about my amazing nieces and god-daughter as they go through the desperate stress of exam season … it’s hard to get them to switch off and yet it could just be the best thing they could do – They might roll their eyes and say ‘whatever’ but perhaps it’s worth leaving a print out of this article lying around in the kitchen- compelling evidence that getting a good night’s sleep can help them get better results… Perhaps you can try it too? – Memory and Sleep

And finally yet more proof if you needed it about just how amazing light is… this team from Cambridge has worked out how to use sunlight light with a cunning cocktail of simple chemicals to crack the problem of the growing problem of food waste – around 1.3 billion tons per year according to this article – Photoreforming of food waste into value-added products over visible-light-absorbing catalysts

This brilliantly simple solution offers a low-tech and highly efficient alternative to the high set-up and energy costs of anaerobic digestion. I sort of understand it but not well enough to explain it so here’s a quote from the paper… ‘In PR, electrons in a semiconductor are excited to the conduction band (CB) by sunlight and reduce water to H2, while the photogenerated holes in the valence band (VB) drive the oxidation of an organic substrate (Fig. 1). It can therefore be considered a hybrid process between photocatalytic water splitting and organic photo-redox catalysis. PR has several unique benefits, including no external energy input beyond sunlight, applicability to small off-grid systems, compatibility with mixed and wet waste, and ability to produce pure, fuel-cell-grade H2. This technology is thus a suitable candidate for simultaneous food waste management and fuel generation.’ Something for your grey matter to digest?

And finally, it’s only just sinking in that my TedX talk about light has been selected for the Ted website – one of 3,500 that they choose from over 26,000 videos. The message that light counts is finally getting out there! please click here if you’d like to watch it – and if you could share / comment / like that will let the bots know that this is an idea worth sharing – thank you so much –

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