Big Loft Windows with Natural Light Makes Us Happy and Healthy
Natural light is necessary for all humans to be comfortable, healthy and happy. Sunlight allows our skin to make Vitamin D naturally. Real estate without sufficient windows leases for 20% less than properties with adequate windows. More than half of Downtown loft renters and buyers cite plenty of windows and light as being near the top of the priority list.
Research suggests exposure to daylight from windows creates significant health and performance benefits. This past year, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found that employees working in environments with natural light recorded higher levels of energy than those in artificially-lit workplaces. The data reconfirms other studies that have shown that controlled daylight in built environments can reduce eyestrain which may lead to improved productivity.
Exposure to daylight at the right time of day also suppresses our melatonin, leading to more restful sleep in the evening. From treatment of depression to alleviating workplace stress, daylight in particular is a convenient means to positively impact human health.In many cases, daylight actually provides greater benefit than electric light.
Natural light has been touted for its many aesthetic and health benefits by designers and researchers alike. Scientists at the Lighting Research Center (LRC), in Troy, N.Y., for example, have reported that daylit environments increase occupant productivity and comfort, and provide the mental and visual stimulation necessary to regulate human circadian rhythms.
Utilizing natural light can lead to substantial energy savings. Electric lighting in buildings consumes more than 15 percent of all electricity generated in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Along with happier workers, substantial financial and human-performance benefits have been associated with increased daylight. In 2003’s “The Benefits of Daylight Through Windows,” LRC researchers discussed anecdotal evidence that commercial real estate with no windows leases for about 20 percent less—or $2 to $4 per square foot less—than spaces with windows.
In the 1984 Science article “View through a Window may Influence Recovery from Surgery,” Roger Ulrich, now a professor of architecture as well as a co-founding director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University, reported that surgery patients in rooms that had windows facing trees recovered 8.5 percent faster and took fewer analgesics than did those patients whose view was a brick wall. Subsequent research by others has substantiated the results for patients who stayed in general hospital rooms.
In a 1999 study “Daylighting in Schools: An Investigation into the Relationship between Daylighting and Human Performance,” commissioned by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, HMG found a high correlation between schools that reported improvements in student test scores—upwards of 10 percent—and those that reported increased daylight in the classroom.
The biological processes that regulate our sleep–wake cycle make up our circadian system. Primarily through the use of the neurohormone melatonin, our circadian system regulates our patterns of alertness and sleepiness. Without exposure to normal 24-hour light–dark cycles, a person’s sleep–wake cycle can stray by as much as two hours per day.
Compared to workers in offices without windows, those with windows in the workplace received 173 percent more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night. Workers without windows reported lower scores than their counterparts on quality of life measures related to physical problems and vitality. They also had poorer outcomes in measures of overall sleep quality, sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction.
Corey Chambers, REALTOR®