Enhancing employee comfort with the flip of a light switch

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For workplaces that value employee productivity and comfort, color-tunable lighting represents a new frontier. With the ability to cool or warm the light temperature of a room, tunable lighting can wake up or calm down employees, adjust to the time of day and adapt for an after-hours event.

Although nearly all modern workplaces house employees who spend the majority of their days at their computers, most office spaces’ lighting systems were designed for tasks involving paper.

As Simone Skopek and Bob Best of JLL’s Energy and Sustainability Services (ESS) explain in their new book “SMART Green + Productive Workplace,” poor lighting can have a tremendous negative impact on employee productivity. Paper-based tasks require more intense lighting than work done on a computer, and the harsh lighting can cause reflection and glare.

“In the evolution of the lighting in the workplace, most offices are still in the dark,” said ESS Senior Manager Bill Lawler. “Companies are brightening to the idea that their lighting needs are in-line with their productivity, attraction and retention goals. A lighting system is similar to other smart workplace elements that create value for a company through workplaces where employees feel well and foster an environment where employees have a sense of connection with one another.”

Lawler, who attended the lighting trade show Lightfair 2017, viewed tunable lighting as an innovative next step in commercial lighting.

Tunable lighting systems – LED lights that can change their brightness and light color – offer several solutions to the outdated office lighting of the past. They come in three categories: dim-to-warm, white-tuning and full-color tunable.

  • Dim-to-warm lights warm in color as they dim, a cost-saver compared to incandescent lights which only lower their brightness levels. These lights work well in environments that have both daytime and nighttime activities, such as hotels and restaurants where bright lighting would be preferred in the day and warmer light preferred at night.
  • White-tuning lights can adjust within the range of white light, with a bluish color on one end of the spectrum over to a warmer, yellow color on the other. These lights would be ideal in a retail setting, where a blue light could suggest winter temperatures and a yellow light could suggest summertime and warmth. These lights could also have important uses in healthcare facilities, Lawler suggests.
  • Full-color tunable lights offer the entire color wheel, and are usually seen in building façades and water fountains, but provide useful aesthetic appeal for interior accent lighting. They could also serve in an office space where the lighting could not only warm in the afternoon, but change to a colored setting for an after-hours event.

According to Lawler, white-tunable lights will be as common as dimmable lighting within three to five years.


Reserve your copy today of JLL’s new book, “SMART Green + Productive Workplace: A desk companion for corporate real estate professionals” to learn more about indoor lighting’s effects on employee productivity and comfort. 

Bill Lawler serves as a Senior Manager in Energy & Sustainability Services at JLL developing and implementing strategic energy management programs for commercial buildings and retail sites. He is also a subject matter expert in lighting having created innovative lighting programs for Fortune 500 companies and designed lighting systems for commercial use ranging from 2,000 s.f. retail applications to 800,000 s.f. office spaces.

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