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Can a building help you heal? Part III: Lighting

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

We’ve all been there – the doctor’s office exam room.

Typically, it’s a small, windowless room that is

painted a bright, reflective white. Add in a harsh, direct overhead fluorescent light fixture pumping out thousands of lumens, and you have the perfect recipe for an stress-inducing, energy-draining environment.

Research has long shown a correlation between daylight in work-spaces and productivity. Individuals with a steady diet of daylight are found to be significantly more alert throughout the day. Other studies build on this idea: we buy more in daylit stores, our children perform better in daylit classrooms.

So why do members of our medical community typically spend all day in windowless rooms?

When daylight isn’t available (I’m looking at you, January afternoons), correctly measured indirect light is proven to be next best thing. By adding the right amount of general illumination to a room, an individual's productivity goes up and errors go down. Again, very good things when working in a medical clinic!

But the science of lighting doesn’t stop with its impact on the people working in a building. Newer research is turning toward the people using the building. It's focusing on visual comfort and its impact on human psychology. Said quickly: using light to create a pretty space can reduce stress (and bad lighting can induce it).

One of the major draws of Case Integrative Health’s new clinic is the abundance of natural light. With large windows facing east and south, the suite drinks in sunlight all day long. Windows have been added wherever we can (while keeping offices and exam rooms private), drawing light across the entire office.

Natural and LED light combine to create calming space, even through construction!

On that strong foundation of daylight, we’ve layered soft LED lighting. Gone are the harsh, draining yellow-orange tint of fluorescent lights – replaced with a consistent ‘white’ to evenly illuminate. On top of that, repeating columns of accent lighting should subconsciously relieve the eyes and minds of all who visits us.

You might even find the light pretty.

At a minimum, the lights should be working to help you heal.

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