The Importance of Daylight and Views

Is your idea of a healthy workplace free coffee and a cosy lounge for breaks? Think again. As we spend more time indoors, our need for access to daylight and views drastically increases – something often overlooked in the design planning of offices, schools and healthcare facilities. At the same time, studies highlight how productivity, well-being, reduced risk of illness and mental health issues are directly linked to daylight access and workplace views.

As humans, our internal clock governs our physiological needs. Daylight and views play a crucial role, having helped our bodies follow the circadian rhythm for millennia, allowing us to function optimally and perform at our best. However, society has taken a different direction in the last century, with the average European office worker now spending approximately 90% of their day indoors.

Designing large glass facades is a natural way to address the lack of daylight. However, the problem with regular glass windows is the excessive heat radiation entering the building. Air conditioning is expensive, consumes a lot of energy, and emits CO2 – something the property industry desperately needs to reduce. Installing conventional sunshade solutions like awnings and blinds, or dark solar control films, has therefore been the standard solution to block all or part of the sunlight. But that puts us back to square one. No daylight, no views.

An effort to recreate a sense of the outdoors has been to install extra indoor lighting and place large plants in workplaces. But is this enough to fully replace our need for daylight and views? And what does the research say about how this affects our efficiency and mental health? Let's find out!

The Essential Daylight

There are multiple physiological and psychological reasons why we rely on the sun. For example, the production of the hormones cortisol and melatonin is controlled by daylight and affects our 24-hour rhythm. A study conducted by the US General Services Administration found that workers in offices with good daylight reported a 51% drop in eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision symptoms, resulting in a 6.5% increase in productivity (Heschong Mahone Group). Ample daylight also works as a natural antidepressant, lowering the risk of depression.

In addition to physical well-being, our cognitive ability increases with daylight exposure. According to a study conducted by the Interdepartmental Commission on Thermal Environment and Indoor Air Quality in Denmark, workers in offices with good daylight had 6-16% higher productivity than those in offices with poor daylight (Heschong Mahone Group). The study also found that the focus group had significantly better sleep quality, longer sleep duration, and higher physical activity levels compared to workers in offices without windows.

The same applies to school environments, where a study conducted by the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute concluded that classrooms with better daylighting positively impacted student performance, including increased reading speed and improved academic achievement. This connection was further confirmed by the California Energy Commission's study, which found that students in classrooms with more natural light had a 20% faster progression in math and a 26% faster progression in reading than those in classrooms with less natural light.

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Health Benefits of Having a View

While sunlight keeps us alert and awake, views are another essential factor for our daily orientation. A study by the Heschong Mahone Group proved that having a good view, allowing us to observe the weather and seasonal changes, reduces stress and generally improves our well-being. Regarding efficiency, office workers with a view of the outdoors performed 10-25% better on tests of mental function and memory recall than those without. Additionally, a study by the Center for Health Design found that office workers with windows slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than those without windows, resulting in a 5% increase in productivity (Berman et al., 2008).

A good view, especially of calm environments like a forest or park, enhances our connection with nature and has even been proven to speed up recovery in healthcare settings. Hospitalized patients with depressive states have displayed shorter recovery times if they have good access to views of their surroundings. These therapeutic effects of daylight and good views are also particularly evident in newly operated patients. Studies conducted in rehabilitation clinics and elderly care also show that good views significantly heal long-time patients.

How ConverLight can help

Access to daylight and views is an essential part of designing good work environments, and with ConverLight Dynamic Glass, you no longer have to make any compromises. Regardless of the season, our product provides necessary daylight, comfortable temperatures, unlimited views, UV protection, and overall comfort. By adjusting the solar transmittance based on conditions such as time of day, outdoor temperature, and window position, ConverLight guarantees a pleasant indoor climate without sacrificing the benefits of natural daylight and views. Are you interested in learning more? Contact us directly for a full introduction to the health aspects of using ConverLight Dynamic Glass.

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