In general, lighting design must fulfill goals such as providing security, comfort, highlighting an architectural work or creating a harmonious environment; However, when it comes to lighting offices, the aforementioned points, and some others, are joined together with the firm intention that the productivity of the company that hires the professional remains on the rise. A few years ago, office lighting was simply putting fluorescent tubes in series inside a huge worksite lighting gallery; Nowadays, it is the subject of studying endless factors, from furniture and architectural materials, to the quantity and quality of lighting that must be provided in the workplace.
It should depend on the type of office concerned and the conditions for determining which technology will be used; These are some of the most important talking points. The offices can be private or open, and the proposed lighting depends on it.
In general, in private settings it is common to have absolute control over lighting, through a series of controls. On the other hand, in open jobs, the jobs must be reconciled with the fact that people exist or do not occupy them and their dimensions cannot be ignored. It is proposed to use the principle of harvesting natural light through sensors with photocells that control the lighting lines in axes parallel to the windows, which regulate the intensity of each one so that the minimum required of light is guaranteed lighting in every workplace.
For example, let’s consider an open office with three lines of lamps: the first, near the windows, is closed, taking advantage of natural light; The second is 25% of its capacity and the latter is 75%; However, all workstations will have a minimum of 500 lux and the energy saving can be greater than 60%.
Although 500 lux is what the standards define for workplaces, a lighting designer must apply his judgment to decide whether it can be somewhat inferior, depending on the types of lighting used to achieve this. To achieve balance, the type of lighting must be taken into account, which is why there are four ways to achieve this: direct, indirect light, the combination of the two and finally what is known as soft light.
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It can be determined whether 500 lux of the general average is optimal or whether the level can be reduced, for example, to 400 lux, when there are significant contributions from indirect light. It is important to consider perception. When the job site is directly illuminated, the vertical roofs and ceilings are dark, resulting in a so-called “cave effect”, which causes stress to users because the pupils are constantly opening and closing.
When different forms of lighting are combined, vertical surfaces and ceilings are better lit. Then the perception of light is better, because it is not only concentrated in the workplace and is distributed throughout the area, which reduces visual fatigue.
Not only the amount of light has to be taken into consideration, but also the quality. There are critical standards in the US and Europe regarding glare. On the one hand, we have indirect glare, which may be reflections on screens, papers, or other surfaces, either due to the brightness of the lamps or by excessive contrast between the illuminated surfaces. In turn, the direct glow of the light that falls on the user’s eyes is given, when the user is positioned at a certain angle in relation to the lamps.
One way to solve these problems is to use dim light, which within the luminaires developed for this purpose, combines indirect and diffused light, without direct input and achieving results with very little contrast. New technologies in direct, indirect lighting installations, such as microarchitectures and waveguides, have made diffusers highly efficient and glare to a minimum.
Another trend in office lighting, not only for increased productivity but also for users’ well-being and energy use, is the application of “active lighting” or dynamic lighting. To achieve this, more types of lamps, control and automation systems in general are needed, which ultimately translates into important decisions in terms of initial investment and operating costs in terms of productivity. In order for the lighting to be as effective as possible, it is also necessary that the reflection of space surfaces be as high as possible, by very light colors (preferably white) on the ceilings and walls, and sometimes on furniture.