Health & Wellbeing benefits of natural lighting design

With the UK’s annual sunshine in short supply, it is common for us to judge the merit of a home or office by the amount of natural light the building receives – and a room with a view is much sought after.

But in design and efficiency terms, there are actual scientific facts and standards to bear in mind for optimum health, energy and efficiency performance for people who now spend an estimated 90% of their time inside.

Researchers have revealed that daylit environments increase a building’s users’ productivity as well as comfort, and provide mental stimulation and help regulate the human body’s circadian rhythms which govern sleep patterns.

Using natural light in a building project can also lead to significant energy savings by reducing the need for electric lighting.

But it has to be carefully managed as excessive glare from natural light onto work stations in particular can prove detrimental to productivity levels and overall employee comfort.

The provision of balanced luminance on interior surfaces, particularly between perimeter windows and key vertical surfaces within the interior area and the provision of sufficient ambient daylight illumination for visual tasks are critical to ensure the best balance.

The human eye adapts to the average luminance of a visual situation and its brange varies from light levels of less than .01 lux (starlight) to more than 100,000 lux (the equivalent of a sunny day). But the eye can only adapt to a part of this range at one time, and it takes a few moments to adapt, such as when you enter a cinema on a sunny day and are temporarily blinded because your eyes need time to adjust away from daylight outside, and when you leave the reflected outdoor light is glaring at first.

Direct sunlight is, for most practical purposes, too much light—indoors or out. Regardless of the eye’s ability to adapt to brightness levels, one cannot look directly at the sun without risking retinal damage. The sun’s brightness must be mitigated by some type of shading device.

Nowadays, glass can be tinted to absorb a certain amount of light energy and shade the interior space. They can be treated with a reflective mirror-like coating, redirecting a portion of solar energy away from the building but allowing a suitably shaded working environment to flourish.

And it is not just your own building that has to be considered when daylight and sunlight levels are assessed: the impact your development has on their working environment in relation to their access to light is also a feature of design and planning criteria.

At the Syntegra Group, our daylight and sunlight assessment team provide specialist planning reports and expert advice on daylight, sunlight and overshadowing factors to maximise your development value.

Whether you are a developer, an adjoining owner or even a local authority, our daylight and sunlight assessment specialists are on hand to help with issues and factors of daylight and sunlight amenity and the potential environmental impact any development may have.

We are perfectly positioned to provide every aspect of daylight and sunlight assessment for your project; from initial feasibility advice, to formal assessments, development envelopes and daylight modelling, planning reports and guidance on rights of lightcompensation and mitigation advice.

Our team also provide reporting and analysis on daylight, sunlight, overshadowing to form part of an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Our Range Of Daylight And Sunlight Assessment Services include:

  • External Daylight/Sunlight impact assessment in accordance with BRE 209
  • Internal daylight assessment for planning applications
  • Overshadowing assessments of outdoor amenity space
  • Daylight/Sunlight calculations for developments with limited available lighting
  • Rights of Light consultancy and assessments
  • Daylight calculations for the Code for Sustainable Homes
  • Daylight calculations for BREEAM
  • Maximum envelope analysis
  • Planning committee representation

This has become one of most frequently accessed services recently as all aspects of healthy working environments come to the fore.

So with light at the end of the tunnel, your ability to light up staff lives and all those other clichés with which we could litter such a blog, we hope new and existing clients will see the light and get in touch for us to shed some light on your project! We’re confident you’ll see the difference from making changes we recommend, some of which will not be glaringly obvious to you!

Enough – we think you see what we can do and look forward to hearing from you.