Studies have shown that exposure to natural light can dramatically increase mental alertness, productivity and psychological well-being.
In addition, optimising the use of daylight can lead to significant energy savings. These are all compelling reasons to incorporate good day lighting in the design of your factory, but how do you achieve this?
The benefits of natural light
Productivity - Environmental biologists believe that regular exposure to daylight affects our circadian system, which regulates our physical and mental function. Natural light increases attention and alertness, and has been shown to help with boring or repetitive work. It has a positive effect on our sense of well-being and makes us feel more active. A study1 of people working in offices reported that people in windowed rooms spend about 15% more time on work-related tasks than their colleagues in interior offices.
Health – Studies have shown that good day lighting reduces the occurrence of headaches, SAD and eyestrain. Also, as employees feel better in a well lit environment, absenteeism is much lower. When ING moved to a new building where desks were no farther than 23 feet from a window, they reported a 15% decrease in absenteeism2.
Energy saving – Electric lights can be turned off when there is enough natural light and incorporating controls with automatic daylight sensors can dramatically cut a building’s energy consumption. Many companies have found that the cost of improving day lighting conditions in their buildings have been more than offset by the increase in productivity and the energy savings achieved.
What are the downsides of increasing natural light?
If you decide to install skylights in your roof, you will indeed increase the natural light entering into the factory, but you will also considerably increase your solar heat gain. During the summer months, skylights may cause overheating issues, almost negating the benefits achieved by creating natural light entry.
How can you create natural light in your factory whilst avoiding overheating?
By using the ventilation system!
Installing an efficient factory ventilation system will drastically improve indoor air quality, reduce energy costs, increase productivity and ultimately improve the output and profits of your business.
Where natural light is a concern, many ventilators can be adapted to have polycarbonate lids, thereby letting in day light as well as providing day-to-day ventilation.
If you would like some more advice about reducing energy costs, then a survey of your building is best. At Colt, our engineers have been working with building owners and operators solving their problems related to the indoor environment and helping improve their business for over 60 years.
1. Daylight and Productivity – A Field Study Mariana G. Figueiro, Mark S. Rea, Anne C. Rea, Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Richard G. Stevens, Univ. of Connecticut Health Center, Dept. of Community Medicine.
2. Daylighting and Productivity: A study of the effects of the indoor environment on human function David Hoblsetter, KMD Principal
Paul Langford is Engineering Director at Colt, experienced in product development, manufacturing & testing for HVAC, louvre and smoke control systems.