“Enlightening” solutions for a sustainable design

Lighting plays a key role in working environments, influencing employees’ well-being, productivity and satisfaction. In recent years, LED technology has revolutionised lighting design for offices, offering many benefits over traditional lighting systems. An even more recent and innovative approach is to optimize lighting solutions through a controlled combination of natural and artificial light. All this is an offshoot of the ‘biophilic’ design concept, which allows the environment of everyday life to be combined with natural elements, integrating their principles into spaces and architecture.

An example is Austrian Zumtobel Lighting GmbH, a leading international manufacturer of professional indoor and outdoor lighting solutions. Back in May 2017, this major company commissioned Vera Pichardo, Consultant Marketing & Branding at the Nymphenburg Consult AG Group, to carry out a study on the topic: “How a bioadaptive lighting solution in the working environment improves employees’ wellbeing”. This study, carried out under real working conditions and using a combination of different neuroscientific methods, enabled the measurement of emotional and cognitive responses to a new ‘human-centered’ lighting system specifically designed to support the biorhythms of employees in their office environment. Another significant experience is the 2020 joint project involving partners in the technology and lighting sectors, such as Zumtobel, Fagerhult, iGuzzini and Tridonic, who worked together with Aalborg University on a study entitled: “Double Dynamic Lighting — Bringing Qualities of Natural Light into the Office”. The team, led by Prof. Ellen Katharine Hansen, showed that it is possible to define solutions responding to the dynamics of natural light through a combination of direct and diffuse lighting. The atmosphere provided by Double Dynamic Lighting was perceived more pleasantly by users. The findings of this experiment strongly contributed to the understanding of the qualities of integrating the dynamics of daylight and electric lighting, referring to the human sensation of unpredictability, naturalness, light flow, and light-zone modelling effects.

Another major aspect to take into account in contemporary lighting projects is sustainability, understood in the broadest sense of the term. This is also where the Zumtobel Group proved its forward-looking vision at the Workshop: “Cyrcular Economy in sustainable lighting solution “, held in Venice in October 2022. On this occasion, some key concepts for modern design were defined:

  • Buildings are not consumption goods, but valuable ecosystems. A building is sustainable not only if it consumes less energy during use, but also if people enjoy their time in it for decades;
  • Lighting solutions provide well-built environments that focus on people’s needs. Workers have the facility to access and control light, improving their comfort and well-being.

This has a range of practical applications such as the replacement of fluorescent lamps with special conversion kits; the assessment of energy efficiency in renovations, with dedicated software to help gauge the project specific life-cycle costs of lighting solutions; the reuse and renovation through future-proof, flexible and long-lasting solutions using plug-and-play devices that can be modified according to the space requirements.

Such studies and researches have been put ‘on the ground’ thanks to a series of products in Zumtobel’s catalogue specifically designed for the latest generation of workplaces. An excellent example of this is AMBITUS, where indirect diffuse lighting meets accurate direct lighting, with powerful light that suits different settings and favors social interaction, creates a focused working atmosphere or enhances the brand image. CIELUMA, lastly, is a design solution that makes it possible to create a luminous ceiling by simulating daylight under the open sky according to the Double Dynamic Lighting concept, bringing a stimulating as well as sound-absorbing light effect into the room.