Natural lighting makes us all happier… AND HEALTHIER!

Finally: Sunlight in the Office Cubicle

Several companies, including 3M and Alcoa, introduce products promising to enhance natural lighting

With lighting costs so much lower, daylighting products generally can’t be justified on energy savings alone, said Michael Holtz, co-founder of LightLouver LLC, a Louisville, Colo.-based maker of louvers that redirect sunlight. Instead, Mr. Holtz said, the case for daylighting products is that natural light makes people “happier, healthier and more productive.”

Studies by architectural researcher Lisa Heschong and others have found evidence that interior daylight is associated with greater office productivity, higher retail sales and better student test scores, among other things. Mr. Leslie of Rensselaer Polytechnic says that proving productivity benefits is difficult but that natural light “contributes to well-being, reduced stress and greater contentment.”

Some companies also want to enhance their images by seeking certification for their buildings under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, program. One way to earn credits for that certification is to provide “access to daylight and views.”

Though daylighting products have been around for more than 30 years, the market remains small. Robert Westfall, president of Solatube International Inc., said global sales for such products probably total around $1 billion a year. Solatube, based in Vista, Calif., makes rooftop devices that collect sunlight and reflect it through tubes to illuminate the interiors of houses and commercial buildings.


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