Human-centric lighting delivers improved productivity

June 20, 2018

Man and woman with documents in an office, smiling, close up

In 2001, scientists identified a third photoreceptor—in addition to rods and cones—in the human eye. These photoreceptors are linked to our 24-hour body clocks (i.e., circadian rhythms, which affect our daily mental, physical, and biological changes). Thanks to their discovery, we now have a better understanding of how light affects our cognitive performance. Human-centric lighting (HCL) is an effort to create stimulating environments that maximize our performance.


Studies have shown lighting that simulates natural daylight levels in classrooms can improve students’ concentration levels. LED lights can optimize these conditions in the workplace. In conjunction with sensors, LEDs allow you to control lighting intensity, color, and levels. This can be done automatically or, as with Philips Lighting’s Connected Lighting, which uses Power over Ethernet (PoE) to connect office lighting fixtures to a building’s IT network, which can be customized by employees via smartphone. According to Luc Schlangen, senior principal scientist at Philips Research, “human-centric lighting is about being able to personalize and control your lighting to suit your needs and increase your wellbeing.”


Studies on the effectiveness of HCL on productivity have shown that HCL improves performance. A 2015 study by LightingEurope based on 750 factory workers showed a productivity increase of 4.5 percent, with a 1 percent decrease in accidents and 1 percent fewer sick days.


The study also looked at the effects of HCL on cognitive performance in students and found a 15 percent improvement in some students, as well as a 10 percent reduction in the healthcare and education costs of the students suffering from ADHD—which translates to a cost saving of $667 per student per year. Teachers also benefited with fewer sick days per teacher and a longer stay at the school by two years.


The medical sector also saw benefits, with an increase in capacity utilization (up to 76%), improved patient wellbeing, and reduced treatment times. And as with the education staff, employees saw fewer sick days and a similar two extra years stay on the job.


HCL can result in energy cost savings, especially when upgrading a power built-in LED ceiling lighting to a PoE system. However, in all of these studies electricity costs actually rose between 28 and 37 percent. So the question is: does the higher employee productivity, coupled with fewer sick days and less turnover, result in more cost savings than the increase in electricity? In most facilities the answer is yes, but it’s something to consider in your workplace.


For more information on human-centric lighting, contact Vanguard Resources.