Lighting’s New Standard

Lighting’s New Standard

01 Apr 2016

Interview by Residential Lighting with Nathan Stodola

Nathan Stodola explains the relevance of the WELL Building Standard to the residential market.

Residential Lighting: Tell us about the International WELL Building Institute™.
Nathan Stodola: The Institute seeks to improve human health and wellbeing through the built environment by administering and advancing the WELL Building Standard, a rating system for measuring and verifying the design and performance of buildings. We spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors, and the conditions these buildings create, and the activities they support or discourage, affect our lives every day.

RL: What relevance does this have in the residential market?
NS: Residential buildings share many of the same considerations as commercial buildings when designing for wellness: air quality, water quality and designing to encourage physical activity, for instance. In other topics, such as light, the details are different because of the way in which the building is used. While Version 1 of the WELL Building Standard is focused on offices, we also have pilot standards in several other building sectors, including multifamily residential, retail, education, restaurant and commercial kitchen projects.

RL: How does lighting contribute to human health and wellness?
NS: Light serves three primary functions for the human body. Most importantly, and obviously, we need light to see. Lamps providing light with poor color quality and a low CRI can make it difficult to differentiate shades and colors. Proper designs must also distribute the light correctly to avoid causing glare. Light is also the primary driver that aligns our body’s biological clock, our circadian rhythm, with the sun’s 24-hour day. In the absence of these external cues, our body would experience something like jet lag, even without changing time zones, as we’d drift out of phase with the sun. Bluer light is more effective at signaling to our body that it is daytime, so cool white lamps are good sources to use during the day. Conversely, our body relies on darkness to indicate nighttime, so in the evening and at night, warm lamps with a lower blue component can provide illumination for visual purposes while minimizing disruption to our circadian rhythm. Finally, light has direct effects on parts of our brain and can act as an acute stimulant, making people more alert and able to perform better on some cognitive tests.

RL: How does LED lighting affect this?
NS: The explosion of tunable LED lighting systems on the market in the last five years has made it easier than ever to create custom lighting schedules that provide appropriate levels and colors of light at different points in our circadian cycle. Now for the first time, a single lamp can emulate blue-white daylight while the sun is high in the sky and then shift to a subdued warm white in the hours prior to bedtime. However, if not properly shielded or diffused, LEDs can create uncomfortable levels of glare.

Nathan Stodola is Vice President, Product Development at the International WELL Building Institute.

Source: Residential Lighting