Let there be a daylight — Both outside and inside buildings
Light, especially daylight, is vital for us and our everyday lives. We have a natural attraction to, and a clear need, for daylight. We require light to see and function, light affects our body and mind as well as our health and well-being. Limited exposure to daylight in particular, negatively affects sleep quality, energy and mood as well as performance and happiness. This article will focus on daylight — both outside and inside buildings.
Daylight and sunlight in our lives
Daylight is life. It allows people to interpret the surrounding world as light reveals details, colours, movements, and brightness. Light also impacts human physiology and spirit as sight, again reliant on light, provides the most information about the environment in which we spend our lives.
There is more to light than just daylight, there is also sunlight, the essence of the human ecosystem. A healthy dose of sunlight makes people feel good, it boosts vitamin D levels, helps to heal and reduce the risk of depression, and positively affects life in many more ways.
Do we get enough exposure to daylight?
Natural light is one of the crucial aspects of buildings for its effect on energy conservation and the enrichment of indoor spaces. Further, daylight is also closely linked to the indoor climate in buildings and, hence, has an impact on people’s productivity, comfort and health. However, many spend most of their time in indoor environments where there is a limited exposure to daylight. Not all offices have large windows, some apartments have windows towards darker courtyards and indoor environments for leisure activities, sports, hobbies and culture have a limited inlet of daylight.
Deficiency or even lack of light is dangerous, something that people must have understood in early ages as various means have been used to provide light, for instance, the sun, fire, wax, oil, gas, and more. Finally, for more than 100 years ago, artificial electrical lighting was invented, which provided the indoor environment in buildings with a more reliable source of light.
Daylight plays an important role in buildings
Daylight is an implicit part of buildings. The combination of architecture, suitable technologies and various building systems allow to successfully guarantee a well-lit indoor environment, either by letting natural daylight in or by utilising high-quality and intelligent artificial lighting.
The total energy cost of a building can be reduced by 20-60% by means of optimal integration of daylight and other light alternatives. By reducing the need for electric lighting, demands and thermal loads reduction of heating and cooling, the use of daylight can also reduce greenhouse gases and slows the depletion of fossil fuel.
Daylight affects our health and well-being
Daylight is biologically used to align the human body clock, for instance, morning light is the most prominent signal for the human body to wake up, and great levels of daylight allow for the regulation of alertness. To also be exposed to daylight during the actual day is essential for peoples' functionality and enhanced morale.
Overall well-being is strongly connected to daylight because it affects the circadian rhythm and impacts productivity, physical performance and sleep. In terms of the latter, low levels of light and consequently insufficient rest, can cause several problems with depression and memory loss as well as with other psychological and chronic health issues, obesity and diabetes, for example. On the other hand, a well-lit hospital can improve recovery and shorten the period of care.
As said in the previous section, daylight can help increase productivity. To be able to perform and thrive at work, visually stimulating and productive environments are required. These indoor environments are most often provided with a great inlet of daylight in many or all spaces, with good controllability but without unwanted glare, contrasts and reflections. Having that said, natural light can also reduce absenteeism at work, improve test scores in classrooms and positively impact people in their performance.
Would you like to know more?
Care to know more about daylight, sunlight and light in general, and how it affects people in regards to productivity, well-being and happiness? Learn more about 'Daylight in buildings'.