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Importance of Lighting

OPWG Presentations sponsored by Herman Miller Inc., Lutron Electronics and Muzak Corporation

Illumination in Contemporary Office Work Environment
Presentation by Sava Cvek

To understand Office Lighting, we have to understand Lighting, is first and foremost about health. It is about the personal and collective health of employees and their well-being while working in an office environment.

A person with 20/20 vision has the visual sensitivity of the average 20 year old viewing an object at 20 ft.  By the age of 40 the average person’s visual activity has been impaired to the point that they require visual aids to clearly see objects at normal distance. At the age of 55 the average person requires 5 times more light than a 20 year old to perform tasks with the same amount of visual accuracy and speed. The  occurrence of visual loss in people over the age of 45 is much greater than that of any other demographic group.

The average office worker spends 80% of his or her workday in an enclosed office space illuminated by artificial lighting. We commute to work in cars, busses, or subway all of which are encapsulated environments. Ordinary window glass absorbs all biologically active light spectrum and standard incandescent and fluorescent lamps do not provide for this loss.

Medical studies have demonstrated that continuous exposure to fluorescent light is associated with doubling of melanoma risk. More recent studies have shown that light is the most important environmental input for humans, after food and air, in controlling healthy body functions.

Just as we need fresh air, natural and a full spectrum food, we need natural full spectrum lighting.

Light is a very specific form of energy. It has a profound effect on the relations of human physiological and emotional functions. Light energy enters our body by way of skin and eyes. Light is electromagnetic radiation and as such is a natural agent that stimulates sight and our body mechanisms.

Light penetrates the brain stimulating the hypothalamus, which coordinates and regulates most of our life sustaining functions. Hypothalamus governs the endocrine system of hormone secreting gland controlling various functions in our body including blood pressure, mental activity, immune system, agility, fatigue and initiates and coordinates our reaction and adaptation to stress.

A certain range of biologically active light spectrum is extremely important for our well-being. This band provides synthesis of calciferol or commonly known as vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes the metabolism of phosphorous and calcium in our bodies.  Deficiency of vitamin D may cause an increased risk of cancer, dental caries, brittle bones, increasing stress and fatigue and weakening of the bodies immunological defense systems.

The quality and performance characteristics of a lighting product and the way it is implemented in an office environment will affect health, quality of work, efficiency, creativity, productivity, alertness and general well-being.

In developing a lighting product and designing illumination for an office environment we must understand the light as a life support element. Illumination of a office work environment should be approached as a powerful health stimulating instrument.

Illumination should not be only determined by charts or how much power of illumination one may need for a given space. Office illumination design must take in account natural, ambient and individual work station lighting, to be integrated in one overall system. In addition, it should not be left aside the importance of decorative and accent lighting.

Work station lighting is of a pivotal importance in the contemporary office work environment. Task and under cabinet lighting are performance lighting. Task lighting personalizes the office by making it possible for a person to control such lighting to ones own taste and task at hand. Task light can humanize the office environment by providing an opportunity to satisfy different individual preferences.

Task Lighting should be individually adjustable in intensity and direction. A person should be able to adjust task and under cabinet light to eliminate glare and reflection of ambient and natural light sources.

Design and operating nature of modern office electronic tools used in every day work requires both horizontal and vertical reading. Low light output, lack of adjustability, poor antiglare and reflection technology in LCD monitors and various other electronics devices present huge illumination design challenges.

LED technology offers a great and exciting source of illumination with equal opportunities in energy saving and long life low maintenance operation. LED’s offer to designers a low profile and compact construction when creating new products.

LED products are available in daylight spectrum light and offer significantly higher quality of illumination.

Office work environments should be an embracing and comfortable place inspiring us to be more creative and productive. It should celebrate ergonomics and comfort and allow for personal adjustments. The work environment should be humanized and should support the health and well-being of the person using it. Lighting is among the few most influential benefactor to health, productivity, quality of work and efficiency. The thing is that a workspace is never neutral and it influences people in several important ways.

It is very important to decide between a desk base or a edge clamp mounting option for a task light to have high mobility and placement of a task light on the left and right side of a work surface. Task lighting needs to be carefully selected to be able to satisfy task work and to have a multi directional head to give us the ability and necessary support to illuminate our face during online conference meetings.

In the corporate office, there needs to be a functionally, ergonomically, and visually inspiring space and above all, enormously pleasant place to work.

Sava Cvek is the founder and President of SCA Development International Inc., a Design, Engineering and Manufacturing Management Firm focused on developing products for office medical and industrial work environment. Sava Cvek has received numerous design awards and holds over forty utility and design patents. Sava Cvek can be reached by email, and by phone at 508 652 0007.

OPWG Corporate Consortium XVIII April 22, 2008
The Personal Workspace of the Future,

OPWG is sponsored by Herman Miller Inc., Lutron Electronics and Muzak Corporation
Organized by Orfield Laboratories Inc.

Presentation, made by Sava Cvek, SCA Development International Inc.,  Boston MA