Advancements in glass and glazing products have recently come at a pretty hectic pace. Innovations that are being created to improve the building performance and the occupant comfort are now available from more sources than ever. The challenge lies in what technology works best for your specific structure. Making it even tougher is the glass world as a whole is very rarely a “one size fits all” sort of scenario.
For many in the position of building a new structure or doing massive remodels, the start is determining the priorities on what is wanted from the building when all is complete. One example to look at is the approach that developed on a new building for Masco Corporation. Masco was relocating their global headquarters to Livonia, Michigan and the design featured an amazing three-story atrium that would need something very special glass wise to perform at the levels Masco specified.
“With the direct involvement of our architect (Lindhout & Associates) Masco sought glass technology that provided energy efficiency, glare resistance, sound absorption, and safety. With these priorities, Masco realized we were in quest of an innovative product,” said Lawrence Leaman, Vice President, Tax, Masco Corporation.
The lead architect from Lindout & Associates, Mike Kennedy was no stranger to cutting edge materials. Kennedy is constantly monitoring the building product and glass landscapes to find the right fits for the priorities his clients demand.
“We used a Thermochromic glazing product, Suntuitive® glass (developed & manufactured in Masco’s home state of Michigan by Pleotint) since it eliminates the glare and heat from the sun, preserves views to the outside while minimizing the need for shades, while offering hurricane strength, and meeting sloped glazing requirements. ”
Thermochromic products like Suntuitive glass are in the family of glazings sometimes known as “smart” or “dynamic” glass because of their ability to change with the climate or the needs of the occupant. With Masco’s priorities in mind, Kennedy continued to find that the Suntuitive glass he specified was going to meet those goals.
“The exterior glazing was incorporated in a way that allows natural daylight to gently illuminate the interior of the building during the day time and creating lantern affect in the evening hours where the central glass atrium is the source of light/energy that is diffused as it moves out into the office wings.”
The Pleotint product boasts a simple approach to the smart glass space, offering no wiring or electronics and using the temperature as the trigger to cause the glass to actively change from a clear to dark state. In doing so the glass is basically on call 24/7.
“A key attribute on the energy side is that the glass helps to take the peaks out of your cooling load. It makes the cooling much more even throughout the building; you don’t have spots that are over cooled because another area is getting too much solar heat gain to it,” Kennedy said. “It can now be counted on in determining HVAC loads and efficiencies.”
Newer technology sometimes comes with the worry of past track record. So Masco and the architectural team took a very smart approach to the process.
“To assure the promoted performance met Masco’s expected standards and to ensure sustainability of the product, Masco requested the glass to be installed in an existing office at our current HQ to test over a period covering the previous Fall through Spring. Although some performance issues were identified in January at the peak of the frigid temperatures, Pleotint modified the window and resolved the performance issue,” said Kennedy.
Overall construction is now complete. How have the priorities set by Masco been met so far?
“We have essentially covered the heat of the summer (June through September) and an entire winter with no performance issues pertaining to glare, temperature control, or sound quieting,” added Leaman.
Masco relocated approximately 220 employees to the new 91,220-square-foot facility that features employee amenities such as a 24-hour state-of-the-art fitness center, adjustable workspaces to allow for work while seated or standing, 24/7 fresh food market and a patio for employees to utilize for outdoor work or relaxation. Masco moved to Livonia from Taylor, MI where the company spent nearly 50 years.
It’s open and the ribbon has been cut! The debut of the newest structure on the grounds of the West Michigan Regional Airport occurred earlier in October. One of the things that make this building significant is its use of Suntuitive Dynamic Glass.
The overall design of the structure promoted forward thinking and high performance. Suntuitive Dynamic Glass does its part in allowing an amazing view while still controlling the heat. In addition the Suntuitive Glass is providing the airport with a truly sustainable choice and one that will bring greater efficiency to the structure. The greatest energy savings from Suntuitive Glass come during times of peak energy consumption, when energy costs are higher, saving you money and preserving the environment.
The passengers at the new terminal will also benefit nicely from the new glass thanks to the ability of Suntuitive Glass to provide a naturally balanced and comfortable environment that promotes occupant well-being and productivity.
We are proud to have Suntuitive Dynamic Glass on this exciting new addition at the airport and we’re honored to be a part of a community that truly cares about the well being of its residents and businesses.
What do you think of when you hear the word shopping? Do large buildings with a variety of stores pop up? Does your mind conjure up images of markets stuffed with food? Stop a moment. Think of your last shopping experience – at the mall, grocery store, wherever. What did the building look like? Was it closed in with no windows? Probably. Retail spaces are often designed for maximum usage. Walls are used to house shelves or racks for products. Ceilings are chock full of buzzing fluorescent lights. But recent research suggests that this setting is harmful – most stores would benefit from a proper daylighting strategy.
At a glance, there are many effects of implementing a proper daylighting strategy in a retail environment. First, it makes for happier employees. We already know form past blogs that proper exposure to daylight allows for increased mood . Happy workers perform up to 12% better than unhappy ones, which reflects well on the store as a whole . It also creates a healthy work environment, as better performance rates lead to better work relationships.
A second benefit of daylighting for retail employees is the balancing of their circadian rhythms. They go to sleep at more appropriate times, get more restful sleep, and wake refreshed. This will also help combat shift work disorder, which is a sleep disorder characterized by lack of sleep, lack of restful sleep, and drowsiness during the day . It is the result of having a changing work schedule that does not allow workers’ bodies to sync with a normal sleep schedule. However, the exposure to natural light would help workers’ circadian rhythms return to a normal cycle .
Daylighting also makes for happy customers . Not only are all the products they want still on the shelves, but the employees that assist them during their shopping trip are happier. This makes the customers more comfortable and, as a result, they leave with a more positive outlook in regards to the store. They will return, and likely tell friends and family about their positive experience with that store . Then those new customers go in, have a good experience, and tell their friends and family. It is a ripple effect that brings in more customers each day, all because of exposure to natural light and the smiles that natural light puts on faces.
So it only stands to reason that daylighting increases sales. Not only are customers more likely to return and spend their money, but the increased visibility allows them to be more sure in the purchases . This cuts down on returned purchases, which allows sales figures to increase. One study even states that stores with sufficient natural light experienced a 40% increase in sales  – an incredible percentage. Stores that utilize daylighting also have a competitive edge – consumers drawn towards green living practices are more likely to shop at a store that values them as well .
In addition to this, the building itself benefits. According to Design Services Group, 10% of a retailer’s construction budget is spent on lighting . That’s a lot of money that could be put to better use. The implementation of daylighting strategies would not only cut that percentage, but it would also cut electric bills and HVAC system usage. This could save retailers thousands of dollars a year. It’s a win-win for companies.
But now we have to ask the question…how can a store implement daylighting? Retailers need every ounce of free space for product. They can’t sacrifice wall space for windows. The most documented answer is simple: skylights . Studies suggest that removing sections of annoying, headache-inducing fluorescent light panels and replacing them with skylights would be a cost-effective daylighting strategy. This would allow natural light in without forfeiting any shelf space.
Daylighting in retail spaces is an under-utilized element of design. It would provide health benefits to employees and customers. It would also increase sales, allowing stores to flourish. If these facts have piqued your interest, get in touch with Suntuitive Dynamic Glass and learn how to introduce more daylight into your building without introducing a higher heat load, while increasing occupant comfort! Visit www.Suntuitive.com or call 616.662.7216 for more information.
Sources Not Referenced:
In our previous articles on the importance of daylighting we have looked at the impact in general as well as schools and healthcare related buildings specifically. Next we turn our attention to athletic facilities.
Athletics are an important part of American culture and society. Athletes often live completely in the public eye and are viewed as heroes. How do they climb the ranks and become stars of the sports world? Obviously, there is an immense amount of talent and training involved – but what role does sunlight play in their success as sportsmen? There isn’t much research around this topic yet, but let’s draw some educated conclusions based on what we know about daylighting strategies and effects.
One of the most established benefits of receiving the proper amount of sunlight is better sleep. The body’s natural clock – or circadian rhythm – relies on sunlight to stay in tune. This circadian rhythm dictates sleep cycles and energy levels throughout the day. If an individual receives enough sunlight during the day, then they fall asleep easily and at a decent time. They also tend to stay asleep through the night, and feel more refreshed when they wake up. This is due to the fact that individuals who get enough sunlight enter deeper sleep, which is more restful. It is also helpful to note that the body heals during sleep. According to WebMD, “during the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.”
Obviously, when you get more restful sleep, you have more energy throughout the day. This is especially important when athletes are involved. They train and practice and perform day in and day out, which requires immense amounts of energy. If an athlete were to get poor sleep or stay out of the sunlight, their energy levels would plummet  and their performance would drop off as a result. It is important for athletes to garner as much energy as possible, so they may perform at the top of their game. A highly energized athlete performs better, is more charismatic, and also more likely to rebound from a disappointing performance.
Daylighting in athletic facilities also allows athletes moods to be bolstered.  This is an extremely necessary aspect of the life of a public figure. A heightened mood allows the athlete to have a thicker skin in response to losses and criticism from their peers and also the public. Athletes who do not receive adequate exposure to natural light would be more prone to mood swings and depression. These lower moods would affect their public image as well as their performance. It may even lead to termination from their team. Lowered moods clearly are at the top of a very slippery slope, which leads to a plethora of problems. A proper daylighting strategy is an effective preventative measure that athletes can take to avoid sliding down it.
As stated earlier, good sleep leads to healing the body. Athletes are always at risk of both minor and major injury. They push their bodies to be in peak condition. Of course, damage is nearly inevitable. Exposure to natural light has been proven to lessen the need for pain medication  and shortens hospital stays by 16-41%. This accelerated healing allows players to get back to their teams faster and allows them to get back to performing their roles on that team. An injury can lead to depression as well, which daylighting can also combat. 
So, based on the evidence of the benefits of daylighting, we can draw an educated conclusion: a proper and effective daylighting strategy in athletic facilities would improve the well-being and performance of athletes. They would sleep better, have more energy, be happier, and recover from injuries faster. If you’re interested in developing a daylighting strategy based on this conclusion, Suntuitive Dynamic Glass can help! Visit www.Suntuitive.com or call 616.662.7216 for more information.
In our last two articles about daylighting we looked at the advantages of daylighting general and also in a school environment more specifically. Now take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a typical hospital room. Much like your average classroom, hospital rooms tend to be impersonal and harsh – fluorescent lights, off-white walls, and small windows – if any. This uniform design is likely due to the fact that hospital rooms are made to be functional more than anything. They are created to be easier to clean and offer few distractions for employees. However, research suggests that daylighting should be considered in the design of hospital rooms, as an effective daylighting strategy has a multitude of benefits for both patients and employees.
Daylighting and Patients
A patient’s mood is incredibly dependent on their exposure to natural light. If a person is in a dismal room, it only stands to reason that their mood will be affected for the worse. If a room is sunny and cheerful, the patient’s mood is likely to be better. Effective daylighting cuts rates of patient depression during long-term hospital stays . This is especially important in hospitals treating patients with a history of depression, as it will prevent relapses into low moods, which hinder healing. According to World Health Design and psychologist Lucy Maddox, mood and healing are both bolstered if the windows also offer a view [2,3].
Patients in rooms that receive more natural light also tend to need less pain medication. According to one study, which explored the relationship between healing and sunlight, patients that received 46% more sunlight than the control group needed 22% less pain medication . This not only cuts costs for the hospital, it also spares the patient possible side-effects of a higher dosage of medication. That is, patients who use less pain medication are less likely to form a dependence on it physically or psychologically, or experience side-effects that would require treatment.
According to recent studies, patients in naturally well-lit rooms actually heal faster and require a shorter hospital stay than patients without proper exposure to natural light. One study found that patients in sunnier rooms had stays that were 16%-41% shorter than patients located in dull rooms . This increases turnover rates for hospitals, allowing them to serve more patients. It should also be noted that the mortality rates in intensive care units are lower in rooms that receive plenty of sunlight.
Daylighting and Nurses
Nurses work in a stressful environment and work through incredibly delicate situations daily. These men and women, quite literally, hold the lives of their patients in their hands. If their concentration slips for even a moment, the results could be disastrous. This is merely one reason why daylighting should be considered in hospitals. Individuals who receive enough exposure to natural light during the day are more likely to stay concentrated on the job . Mistakes – such as errors when giving medication to patients, errors on paperwork, etc. – were made far less often when individuals received enough exposure to natural light . Obviously, this reduction of mistakes is incredibly desirable.
Nurses who are exposed to sunlight in the workplace have, on average, better relationships with their coworkers and are more likely to maintain a good mood over long, stressful shifts . They have a more positive outlook, too. This is incredibly important in such a stressful and, at times, morose position. Nurses who have a more positive attitude tend to be incredibly efficient and are able to react faster to problems that arise. In addition to these aspects, nurses who get enough sunlight are even apt to laugh more [7 ]!This mood-elevating effect of daylighting makes the hospital environment much more comfortable for nurses, allowing them to be at the top of their game.
This elevated mood also allows nurses to deliver a higher quality for care. Imagine if you were in the hospital and the nurse came in with a cheery smile – it is only common sense that patients prefer a nurse with a sunny disposition to one with a severe one. Nurses who receive enough sunlight tend to engage more with their patients , which in turn makes the patients feel that their quality of care is better. Happier nurses lead to happier patients, and happier patients have shorter stays  – which not only lends to a hospital’s reputation, but also cuts operating costs.
The factors explored should make it very evident – daylighting is incredibly important to the efficiency of hospitals and the well-being of their occupants. Correct implementation of daylighting techniques would not only reduce operating costs, but also make the environment much more inviting and friendly. If you’re interested in developing a daylighting strategy, Suntuitive Dynamic Glass can help! Visit www.Suntuitive.com or call 616.662.7216 for more information or to order your free Suntuitive Starter Kit.
Also: be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn or Facebook to not miss out on future article in this series on daylighting! We appreciate you as our audience.
Consulted, not referenced above:
The design of a modern airport is becoming a “must see” attraction and with the added need for an intense security protocol, the amount of time people spend at airports has been growing a great deal. Plus there’s a pride factor, as visitors to a city first encounter the airport and make their initial impression of the community. So having something modern, innovative, and inviting has become more important than ever.
At the West Michigan Regional Airport (WMRA) such a transformation is taking place.
The current terminal at the airport was severely outdated and so ground was broken to build the new Airport Office Business Center & Aircraft Apron Area on Monday, September 21, 2015. This facility will surely be an eye catcher and one of the keys to note is the usage of innovative and cutting edge products. One example is Suntuitive Glass® from Pleotint.
“Being involved on this project is important to us in a couple of ways,” commented Chad Simkins, Vice President of Pleotint. “The facility is a perfect application for a high performing, energy efficient, dynamic product like Suntuitive Glass. Our product is self-tinting in direct sunlight, and blocks excess heat gain and glare, so it will keep occupants cool and comfortable while preserving their view. In addition to reducing energy use, this glass for the airport is safety rated and will significantly deaden sound.”
Ken Brandsen of Progressive AE led the design team on this effort and is confident visitors will come away impressed.
“For those corporate visitors exiting a “$50M” Gulfstream aircraft, the facility will represent “alignment” with expectations; but also unexpected level of design and forward thinking region. The design is very much in response to performance based design – strategic alignment with the early visioning and design charrette process as represented by the community participants. Once inside the facility, the furniture products represented will be the latest and greatest as represented by two global manufacturers; Haworth and Herman Miller. I believe most guests will be left with a sense of “WOW” considering the size of the community and surrounding region.”
Construction of the new facility is moving along at a very good pace, with expected completion by the end of summer. The WMRA is tracking the construction week to week on it’s website at www.westmichiganregionalairport.com. The Manager of the airport is Greg Robinson and he’s been a key cog in bringing all of the local parties together leading to what has been to date a very smooth collaborative effort.
“It’s been great working together with all parties and I am very excited and anxious for the construction to be completed and for our businesses who provided materials here to have a showcase for the world to see,” said Robinson.
Pleotint’s Simkins agrees.
“There’s no question we are honored to be a part of a collaboration of many regional companies that are involved in this project as we are proud of this community we call home and want to show the world how great the Holland and Western Michigan area is.”
And as for that community Brandsen sums it nicely.
“Being a life-long resident of Holland, this is critical to the culture of a community. The airport represents a key business tool for so many organizations. It is vital to the economic health of the region. As such, many individuals and businesses have contributed.”
In the first part of our series on the effects of daylighting we did a high level overview, but now let’s take it a bit further. Think of your time in school. What did your classrooms look like? If you got your education in the United States, chances are good that your classroom had off-white cement walls, drab carpet, and small (if any) windows. The lights you sat under were probably harsh fluorescent panels. Did those help you concentrate? Probably not. In recent years, more and more people have been pushing for the use of natural light in the classroom – and they’re right to do so. Natural light elevates mood, increases concentration, and can even help raise average grades by up to 25% !
It seems to be a universally accepted fact that students can’t concentrate in the classroom. You hear stories about children acting out or sleeping through their classes. Usually, the blame for this is placed on the students themselves – the typical consensus is that students are too bored, tired, or distracted by technology. This is not necessarily true, however. Many schools are built with small windows that tend to be covered with blinds. Even worse, some older schools have classrooms with no windows at all. So, students in today’s classroom receive less sunlight than they should. This lack of exposure to natural light, and the Vitamin D deficiency that is a consequence of that lack, has catastrophic effects on the education process.
Exposure to sunlight increases concentration. Basically, this is due to the fact that the body has to divert less energy to stress responses, which are brought on by the release of cortisol. This release of cortisol is triggered by exposure to fluorescent lights . This increase in concentration drastically cuts down on distractedness and the number of students disrupting class out of boredom. Studies have shown that students exposed to natural light not only concentrate better and for longer periods of time, but they also tend to learn faster and more efficiently as well. They retain the information that they are taught. If a student cannot concentrate, the information they are trying to learn will only stay with them for about 8 seconds  – in other words, it will go in one ear and out the other. But throw natural light into the mix, and that information will move from their short term memory to their long term memory, allowing the student to retrieve that information later. This will, in turn, raise grade averages among the students who are exposed to natural light during the school day. That’s not the only benefit of daylighting in the classroom, though.
Students exposed to natural light usually have more energy throughout the day. If an individual is consistently exposed to natural light, their circadian rhythm is more in sync.  This means they get more restful sleep and have less fatigue throughout the day. One study stated that exposure to natural light during the day can lead to 46 additional minutes of restful sleep . Adolescents need 8-10 hours of sleep a night to function properly. However, most students in this age group report getting around 7 hours per night . If a student is sleepy during the day, their grades suffer. According to researchers at McGill University, students who got enough sleep – and, presumably, enough exposure to natural light – performed up to 14% better  than their peers who got poor or inefficient sleep.
Studies have proven that artificial light takes an enormous toll on productivity. One such study, conducted by Dr. Mirjam Münch, proved that productivity in an artificially lit environment decreases drastically over time . This is extremely important to keep in mind when considering daylighting in schools. Both students and staff spend five days a week under artificial light. By designing schools to utilize natural light – or taking steps to utilize natural light already present in the classroom – productivity of both students and staff will increase. That means there would be more effective teachers and more effective students.
There is an additional benefit of natural light that improves the human element of the educational environment. It may sound simple, but exposure to natural light makes us happier. Navigating the complicated maze of adolescence is hard enough without symptoms of depression being thrown into the mix. As many as 1 in 13 students show symptoms of depression.  Artificial lighting can bring these symptoms on, and exacerbate symptoms that already exist in an individual. This lowered mood keeps students from concentrating in the classroom, keeps them from participating, and can actually make their brains process information and stimuli slower than someone without depression would . A classroom that successfully employs daylighting has a mood-elevating effect. This would combat symptoms of depression, and allow students to participate in the learning process once more.
In addition to this mood-elevating effect, natural light also sparks the release of a molecule in the blood called beta-endorphin . This molecule evokes feelings of joy and contentedness. Though studies have found that this molecule does not last long in the body , its effects would still be very prominent in the classroom. Over time, students who are exposed to light and experience the effects of beta-endorphin will begin to relate this flood of positive feeling with the classroom, making them feel comfortable in their educational setting. Students who are content are able to focus more of their energy on their lessons and, consequently, earn higher grades than students who are in classrooms lit by fluorescent lights.
One factor that is not necessarily examined when talking about daylighting in classrooms in the cost. In the mid to late 20th century, there was a movement to remove windows from classrooms – the general idea being that having no windows would keep students focused and decrease the energy burden of inefficient windows . Recently, however, there has been a push back towards the use of natural light in the classroom. Keeping efficient windows in the classroom would cut electricity costs drastically, though. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that the use of effective lighting in the classroom can lower the cost of lighting by 30-50%.  This independence from fluorescent lights also increases mean test scores, which will inevitably increase the school’s chances to receive more funding.
Finally, the use of smart glass cuts the cost of heating and cooling the building. This is due to the fact that smart glass reduces the amount of heat transferred into the building, which means the cooling system does not have to be used as heavily. The U.S. Department of Education estimates this would cut cooling costs by 10-20% . These savings total up to $1.5 billion per year . The converse is also true with heat escaping the building in colder months. So it’s obvious – smart glass is the most cost effective solution when considering daylighting in the classroom.
Both students and staff would clearly benefit from the use of daylighting in the classroom. If every classroom utilized natural light, test scores would go up. Mood would be elevated. And, perhaps most importantly, school would be a comfortable and pleasant place.
This is the second part in a series on daylighting. Please be sure to connect with us and not miss out on the rest of this series as we will investigate the benefits of proper daylighting in healthcare next time.
If you’re interested in learning more about daylighting, get in touch with Suntuitive Glass! Visit www.Suntuitive.com or call 616.662.7216 for more information.
We’re about halfway into first quarter 2016 and many companies still don’t have a sales strategy. Others have made goals, but no plan. In 2015, the fenestration industry was filled with business changes. But one question remains constant: does your company sales plan match your goals?
As an example, a start-up out of California desperately needs and wants sales. They have changed sales managers and staffing time and again, never staying long enough with any one particular strategy to make it successful. This company now has the strategy to win a project, no matter the price. They see it as market domination. They will take all available and attractive projects at any price so that those they consider competition will not be able to compete, perhaps in hopes that the competition will wither and die. What they fail to realize is the absolute abundance within this business. Opportunities abound.
This company goes to great lengths to get attention and will spend exorbitant amounts of money to have the largest tradeshow booth or make the most noise with the latest building they practically gave their products away for. They are so self-absorbed they fail to notice that they actually turn people off. They create a cult of personality at the top of the company and a culture that is wrought with disdain and frustration at all levels. Mistrust and disillusion fester under the surface because the employees know the messaging doesn’t fit the product or the culture.
Another example is a company acquired by a large multinational corporation that employs the tactics of trying to compete with the California start-up. It is an all-out race to the bottomless pit, where they are willing to drop the price at the first hint of competition. They will do ridiculous promotional pieces that advertise to the wrong audience, so the messaging, although neat, gets lost. They will have two booths at tradeshows in hopes that they will not be outdone by the flashy start-up.
Because of the big pockets of the parent corporation, this company has the false sense of security that the pressure is off and it can outlast the new start-up. What they fail to realize is that if the parent has a division--even in a distant country or in an entirely different industry--that is not performing and causes enough pain, they will start to contemplate the purge of all divisions and holdings that do not bring positive results.
That brings us back to the beginning. Do you have a sound sales and marketing strategy? If you do not have one, why not? A plan makes it easy to measure where you’re at against your goal. So what is the goal of every company? Create one thing and one thing only. Profits. The number of projects you win does not matter if you make no money. It is a giant waste of time to do all of the things we do every day if we cannot make money doing it.
If your sales and marketing plans do not support the bottom line of making profits, then they are all misguided. Analyze your business and determine what you do best. Then prompt your sales team to seek more sales that support that part of your business in 2016. As you watch the growth in the desirable parts of your business, you will also notice how your profits increase. This will pay big dividends to you and your investors. Which, by the way, is the real reason to be in business.
Chad Simkins is vice president of Pleotint and vice president of sales for Thompson IG. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Have you ever wondered why you get more stuff done on a sunny day compared to a rainy day? Noticed that you work better when you’re close to a window? Does your mood seem to always be better when you’re out in the sun? You might be thinking to yourself yes, I have! But why? The answer to all of these questions is a simple one – natural light energizes you and increases your productivity. And that is exactly why you should consider the practice of daylighting.
Daylighting is defined as the illumination of buildings by natural light, through the strategic placement of skylights and windows. The goal of this practice is both to harness natural light and to make a room visually appealing. There are many benefits to the practice of daylighting – the lowered cost of lighting is usually focused on the most. However, the use of natural light has incredible benefits to both business productivity and your overall heath.
Natural light is, to put it simply, sunlight. Humans need to absorb sunlight to function properly – it provides us with vitamin D, kills bacteria, and even lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. In a perfect world, every room would be open and full of natural light during the day. We would get our fill of it. We would be healthy and happy. Unfortunately, for most offices and workspaces, this is not the case. If a worker is placed more than 25 feet away from a window, they will receive no natural light, as the rays are unable to travel that far. This is according to Dr. Mohamed Boubekri, who co-authored a study regarding light and how it affects health, which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Sunlight also plays a factor in regulating the temperature in a workspace.
Heat is also a factor linked with daylight. If a room receives light, the temperature goes up. The University of California asserts that once your body temperature rises, more of your bodily energy must be dedicated to getting rid of that heat. This means that your brain and muscles must, subsequently, use less energy. If your body can’t get rid of the heat quick enough, then your sweat glands activate so you don’t overheat.
On the other hand, if an environment is too cold for your body, more of your energy is dedicated to keeping your body comfortably warm. This, in turn, slows your muscle movements and diminishes your mental faculties. Basically, if you’re too cold or too warm, your body has to work overtime to maintain a comfortable temperature. Maintaining a balance between hot and cold is a key factor is both your productivity and your health.
Productivity is very dependent on the environment in which you work. This goes beyond the distractions of desk trinkets and posters – daylight and heat play very deep roles in how well you work. With heat, perhaps, the connection is obvious. If you’re not at a comfortable temperature, then less of your energy goes to the task you are working on and you make more mistakes as a result. According to Fast Company, a magazine specializing in innovation in the business world, employees working in a cooler environment will make up to 44% more mistakes than employees working in a comfortably balmy environment.
Sunlight also affects productivity. Have you ever experienced that late-afternoon crash in energy? Chances are good that this is due to a lack of exposure to natural light. Artificial sources of light make you fatigue faster, make more mistakes, and shorten your attention span. Exposure to natural light increases alertness, as stated by a study conducted by Dr. Mirjam Münch. Münch also asserts that exposure to artificial light takes its toll on productivity over time – the more consecutive days you are exposed to it, the worse your performance tends to be.
Health and Well-Being
Not getting enough natural light during the day has several effects on the human body— people who do not get enough natural light often have a vitamin D deficiency, issues with sleep, and are more likely to have problems with mental health. If you are in an environment with dim or artificial light for too long, your brain will also release cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. This spike in cortisol puts stress on your body and suppresses your immune system, changes your metabolism, and blood sugar levels.
Your Circadian Rhythm – your body’s natural clock – is also vastly affected by whether you spend your time in natural or artificial light. Natural light is the most important aspect in the synchronization of your natural clock. If you spend too much time in dim or artificial light, you sleep 46 minutes less and get less energizing sleep than an individual who was exposed to natural light during the day. This lack of restful sleep can lead to other problems as well – including memory loss, poor communication practices, and even symptoms of anxiety and depression.
It should go without saying by this point – sunlight is imperative for a happy and healthy life. If you’re interested in developing a daylighting strategy, Suntuitive Glass can help! Visit www.Suntuitive.com or call 616.662.7216 for more information.
Winter is coming, there’s no denying it. Here are five tips to help improve your home’s efficiency—inside and out—while Mother Nature is still cooperating.
Inspect Windows and Doors
One of the best ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home and save on heating bills is to install new windows and doors. Talk to a representative from a window manufacturer or a home-improvement store and ask questions about low-e glass, different frame materials, and dynamic technology, such as Suntuitive Glass. Upgrading now can provide year-round benefits.
If new windows and doors aren’t in your budget yet, inspect them to ensure caulking is still flexible and sealing all the gaps between frames and walls on the interior and exterior of your home. Also, consider installing weather-stripping to help eliminate drafts.
Examine your furnace and smoke detectors
Take a look at your furnace to make sure it’s clean and running properly. Consider replacing the furnace filter at this time every year. Dirty filters can cause your furnace to run longer than necessary, waste energy, and cause a fire. It’s also a good habit to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors at this time of year as well.
Reverse your ceiling fan
Did you know your ceiling fan can spin in both directions? In warmer months, ceiling fans are used to push air down, providing a cooling effect. However, in colder months, fans can spin in the opposite direction, pulling warm air up and recirculating it throughout a room.
Check your Pipes
Don’t wake up to frozen pipes! Wrap pipes with foam insulation in unheated locations, such as a garage, attic, crawl space, or porch.
Clean your gutters and downspouts
It’s a beautiful time of year and the colorful autumn leaves are falling. Unfortunately, many of them are making their way into your home’s gutters. It’s important to clear leaves and other debris from gutters and downspouts so that they can efficiently drain rain and melting snow. Clogged gutters also may lead to roof, soffit, and siding damage.
What are some other ways you winterize your home? Share them with us in the comments.
Dynamic Insights Blog
A blog for the latest happenings and general information about the dynamic glass industry including topics on daylighting, energy efficiency and green building tips