Artificial Light in the Work Environment: A Balanced Perspective for Energy Efficiency and Support for Immunological Health

By Julie Whitmore and Pamela Schulze.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Utilization of lighting in buildings is an evolving topic of research. The definition of sustainable design
now includes a concern for health as affected by indoor environmental quality. The U.S. Green Building
Council (USGBC), through the voluntary LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits
allow 17 credits related to indoor environmental quality for Commercial Interiors (Version v3, 2009). In 2006, the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostic (CBPD) at Carnegie Mellon University took initiatives to expand the definition given by earlier LEED criteria. Among the seven CBPD Principles for the design of sustainable built environments, they recommened merging the “natural minimum resource conditioning solutions of the past (daylight, solar, heat and natural ventilation) with the innovative technologies of the present.” This paper will look at the quality of artificial light and its role in the support of human health. Interdisciplinary research in the fields of neurobiology, choronobiology, photobiology and epigenetics are linked to demonstrate the critical nature of artificial lighting in our indoor environment. Although lighting decisions have more recently been driven by concerns about energy consumption, the thesis presented here is that the field of interior design needs to understand how to balance the typical concerns of energy conservation of the planet with concern for optimizing human functioning and health. Energy consumption is important; however, if we make all our new lighting
directives based solely on energy efficiency, we will again be victims of our shortsightedness. Our
knowledge of the interrelatedness of light and human physiology can be used to add another directive to
the seven principles of CPBD, and to bring balance to our priorities in lighting and design.

Keywords: Pineal Gland, Melatonin, Lighting, Immune System, Health, Epigenetics, Chronobiology, Photobiology, USGBC LEED, Indoor Environmental Quality Psychoneuroimmunology, Fluorescent Light, Incandescent Light

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.171-178. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 754.009KB).

Prof. Julie Whitmore

Assistant Professor, School of Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Health Science and Human Services, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA

Prof. Julie Whitmore is an Assistant Professor at the University of Akron, College of Health Science and Human Services in the Interior Design Program. She is a member of A.S.I.D., I.D.E.C. and is a N.C.I.D.Q. (certified professional Interior Designer). She was educated in England and the United States attending Moore College of Art in Philadelphia for her undergraduate degree in Interior Design and Temple University for her Masters in Art Administration. She has ten years experience as a contract designer with clients in the medical and Dental Health fields. Her professional training also includes areas of specialization in color and personality from the Institute of Colour Therapeutics in England. Her primary interests in Interior Design are History of Architecture and Sustainable Design and her research area is the interface between light and immune system.

Dr. Pamela Schulze

Professor, School of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA

Dr. Schulze earned her Ph.D. in Family Studies from the University of Connecticut in 2000. Her dissertation, titled “The Cultural Structuring of Universal Developmental Tasks,” focused on Anglo and Puerto Rican parents’ beliefs and practices regarding three universal aspects of childrearing: encouraging infant/toddler self-feeding, sleeping through the night, and self-toileting. Her primary research interest is in the area of culturally diverse parent-child intereactions. Her work has been published in journals such as Child Development, The Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, and Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. Dr. Schulze is currently Associate Professor of Child Development and Division Coordinator of Family and Child Development in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio, USA.


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