GE hosted a “Lighting Design Competition” to crowdsource ideas and drive innovation to tackle industry problems Entrants were eligible to win cash as well as internships and future collaboration opportunities. We tapped RODE Architect’s own Katie Cressall to participate, as well as to share her approach and ideas developed for the competition. Here’s her take on the challenge and proposed solution:
“The challenge was to design a new office lighting typology using cutting edge GE products, including Bluetooth technology and cloud data, as a basis. My approach was to incorporate concepts from environmental psychology and use new technology to enhance feelings of wellness. Light has a large influence on comfort levels and can play a suggestive role in the emotions and sensory experience of occupants.
One clear example of light influencing the mind-body connection, is apparent in its ability to activate the body’s arousal system to change the sleep-wake schedule. Many people in the workforce suffering from sleep deprivation and lighting systems can help to adjust the natural circadian rhythm. This approach presents the opportunity for employees to receive enough early-morning light exposure to “wake up” their natural body clock and become more productive. Illumination of approximately 2500 lux or more at eye level for 1-2 hours is required to obtain successful results. If the lighting system is set to turn on the eye-level desk or task lights in the morning – it can act like cup of coffee in light fixture form.
The increase and decrease of eye-level light in the morning would be gradual so as to not disrupt workflow. An increase in eye-level light during the late afternoon would also activate the arousal system and get people through the “afternoon slump.” Light levels would decrease after typical work hours to allow the body to prepare for sleep. This also presents the option to increase light levels to help meet certain deadlines by overriding the system. Light levels and the body’s natural clock have been noted to help with jet lag and adjustment to changing time shifts for work. A custom light setting can be made for employees who work odd hours I, to accommodate differing time zones, or for companies that operate 24-7.
The psychosomatic effect of the lights could also increase the levels of light for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the winter. The cloud would activate the lights more in the winter to aid employees, especially those who work in environments with darker winters. Supporting workers in this way increases productivity and lets them know their employer is prioritizing their wellbeing and improving the office experience. A sensor monitoring natural light levels can also decrease cost by providing illumination only when natural light is not sufficient. Occupancy and motion/cellphone tracking can provide light only where there are people around and shut off when there are not. When there is cell signal, but no movement, this indicates to the system that users are sedentary and likely looking at a self-illuminated screen so normal light levels can be decreased. This system works to create an environment that focuses on the employee experience while also decreasing lighting overuse by taking into account people using the space and outside weather conditions.”
For more information on the challenge, visit: http://static.geinnovationlab.com/challenges/lighting.html