As designers and architects, we have a responsibility to consider how our designs impact people. We strive to take a human centered approach to design. With that in mind, we do our best with the knowledge and scientific research we have to select materials and products that will positively impact users. Recently, I attended a lecture by James Benya and Deborah Burnett that discussed lighting and human health. The lecture explored research that shows how lighting can have a significant impact on our health.
Blue Light - We have been hearing for a number of years about the effect of blue light on our circadian system after sunset. Scientific research is continuing to show how blue light impacts how our biological systems operate including sleep cycle and diet. Blue light can come from a number of sources such as phones, TVs, alarm clocks, humidifiers, night lights, indoor lamps/light fixtures, and outdoor light fixtures. The hope is that the fields of scientific research, medicine, and design would increasingly work together to develop solutions and strategies to address these challenges.
Utilizing SPD (spectral power distribution) to help determine the amounts of specific color that are in the light being generated is an important practice. Color temperature between sources may look similar, but the makeup of the light can be different. This is important to know as the impact of blue light at night continues to develop. One major challenge is that SPD information is not always readily available from commercial fixtures or residential lamp manufacturers to perform a proper analysis.
Color Tuning – Color tuning means the fixtures or lighting system has a variable color temperature. It is important to be mindful of who this is impacting in regards to time, location, and if the controls are automated or manual. Color tuning is not a one size fits all solution.
- Brian Waite, LEED AP, IES, LC - Interior & Lighting Designer