17-11-2012

Glass for Europe publishes David Strong's study on the health, education and productivity benefits of glazing.  For a copy of the report click here:

Report: http://www.glassforeurope.com/en/issues/natural-daylight.php

Summary
We spend over 80% of our lives within buildings and numerous research studies have demonstrated that glazing has profound implications in terms of human health, happiness and productivity, including:

  • quality of life, happiness and a sense of wellbeing
  • health (and healing) 
  • ability to learn in educational establishments
  • productivity whilst at work
  • profitability and shopper-footfall in retail buildings

The non-energy related benefits associated with glazing are primarily linked to the following:

  • The provision of daylight within buildings and/or access to sunlight
    • Enabling tasks to be undertaken, whilst also enhancing the spatial environment
  • Establishing a link between the internal and external environment, by providing building occupants with a visual connection to the natural world outside the building
  • The use of glazing as a structural façade element, aesthetic component and/or cultural art-form

 

During the history of mankind the importance of sunlight and daylight has been recognised and then forgotten several times. Ancient civilisations understood the critical importance of daylight associated with human health, happiness and wellbeing.  Following the fall of the Roman Empire, much of this wisdom was lost during the Dark Ages. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that the healing properties of light started being appreciated again by healthcare pioneers, such as Florence Nightingale. The importance of the beneficial therapeutic effects of daylight and sunlight reached new levels of understanding with the treatment of tuberculosis (TB), rickets and jaundice becoming more widely understood in the early 1900’s. This important new branch of medicine was referred to as ‘heliotherapy.’

A new architectural language and form of expression centred on exploiting and celebrating the virtues of daylight in buildings was championed by architects such as Le Corbusier in the 1920’s and embraced by building developers and designers around the world.

No sooner had solar architecture reached a zenith again, than the benefits were to be forgotten as a result of rapid developments in building technology and medicine. The advent of air-conditioning and the introduction in the 1930’s of fluorescent lighting enabled architects to design deep buildings, without the need to exploit daylight. This trend was exacerbated by improved public health and in new treatments for TB, coupled with the introduction of antibiotics. As a result, the healing properties of the sun and the benefits of heliotherapy were soon forgotten again.

We now have a legacy of buildings constructed over the past 70 years which rely on artificial light and energy intensive building services to provide habitable conditions. Many of these buildings have a negative impact on human health, productivity and wellbeing. For many occupants, this implies higher levels of stress and in extreme cases the buildings are responsible for debilitating health problems associated with Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).

The issues associated with SBS and/or daylight deprivation, coupled with a renewed interest in the use of daylight in the design of low-energy, sustainable buildings is leading many architects and engineers to consider innovative ways of exploiting the benefits of daylight (and views) without the negative impacts associated with solar over-heating. However, there are concerns that current health implications associated with excessive solar exposure (e.g. skin cancer etc.) could inhibit the re-emergence of a renewed interest in solar architecture. It is critically important that the positive benefits of daylight do not become confused with the negative impacts associated with excessive solar radiation, not least because modern glazing can reduce the transmission UVs.

Compelling, objective, independent research evidence regarding human health, happiness and wellbeing associated with glazing is presented in this report. Of particular importance are the findings from the healthcare and education sectors, together with emerging evidence regarding the importance of daylight in retail buildings and in providing a link to the natural world in homes.

  • In healthcare, research findings demonstrate that access to daylight provides; a reduction in the average length of hospital stay, quicker post-operative recovery, reduced requirements for pain relief, quicker recovery from depressive illness and disinfectant qualities.
  • In educational buildings access to daylight has been shown to result in a dramatic (and demonstrable) improvement in student academic achievement, behaviour, calmness and focus.
  • In the workplace numerous studies have identified a preference to work near windows and under conditions which fully utilise natural rather than artificial light.
  •  In retail establishments, research shows that a substantial improvement in sales can be achieved in daylit shops.
  • In buildings of all types, including in the residential sector, many of the studied benefits associated with daylight and connections to the outside world can be equally realised, thus contributing to sensations of well-being.

This report provides a comprehensive summary of the benefits provided by glazing by enabling daylight penetration into buildings and an ability to establish a visual link with the natural world outside.

http://www.glassforeurope.com/en/issues/natural-daylight.php