Could Less Light be Better?

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Bob Best
Energy and Sustainability Services



We still light up our workplaces as if we lived 50 years ago.

Older lighting systems, designed for paper-based reading tasks, were typically in the 750-1000 lux range. In fact, it was commonly believed that more light is always better.

Guess what?

It’s not the 1960s anymore. People are reading on things called computers, iPhones and iPads.  Over-illumination, particularly when combined with the flickering of some fluorescent systems, does more than waste energy. It has been found to increase headaches and fatigue, negatively impacting productivity. And, the extra light can glare off a computer screen and actually make it harder to read!

The Illumination Engineering Society of America (IESNA) recommends that over-head lighting can be reduced to 300 to 500 lux in open offices, 400 lux in conference rooms, and 50 lux in corridors and stairs.

For recommended lighting levels and lighting power as set out by the US General Services Administration see

Maybe it’s time to “see the light” … with less light.

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