Daylight has a healthy influence on humans


At the third international VELUX Daylight Symposium in Rotterdam, renowned daylight experts presented recent research findings.

The daylight experts presented recent research findings, concluding that daylight has a vital influence on human health. Daylight is a powerful link to nature and its potential is not nearly used to its full extent in buildings today. Windows – as daylight providers of buildings that facilitate this link – are therefore of vital importance.

On 13-14 May 2009, delegates from 22 nations (200 architects, daylighting specialists, teachers and others with an interest in the subject) gathered at the Van Nelle Design Factory in Rotterdam to take part in the third international VELUX Daylight Symposium. The theme of the symposium was the benefit of daylight in terms of energy-efficiency and health. Worldwide, interest in daylighting has been renewed considerably as a means to meet future challenges in relation to energy efficiency. And a growing movement towards sustainable buildings has established a hopeful target for buildings to reach energy self-sufficiency in the near future.

Several international daylight experts presented their latest findings in the field. Among them were Assistant Professor and Head of the Daylight Lab, Marilyn Andersen, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, the USA, Assistant Professor Steven Lockley from Harvard Medical School, the USA, Adjunct Professor Tor Nørretranders from Copenhagen Business School,Denmark, Associate Professor Mohamed Boubekri from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the USA, and architect James Carpenter, the USA.

"Recent studies have attempted to link environmental clues, such as lighting, with human performance and health, and initial findings indicate a positive correlation between the two. Light can affect humans on physical, physiological, and psychologicallevels and lack of light can haveconsequences for human health," says Marilyne Andersen.

Serious health effects
"Lack of sunlight exposure causes serious vitamin D deficiencies, which in turn cause a range of health issues such as osteomalacia and bone frailty, cancers as well as seasonal and other depressions. We receive around 80% of our D vitamin need from sunlight and people spend increasingly more time indoors, e.g. at work. Lack of daylight and its impact on the health of building occupants is becoming ever more salient. The challenge to architects and lighting designers is to optimize the effect of light in future sustainable buildings," says Mohammed Boubekri.

This was followed up by James Carpenter with this statement: "Bring back daylight to buildings and use the elements of light from the outside to the inside". He works with transparency in windows and how light works through the building.

"We have to use light deep inside the buildings to enjoy the daylight, which depends on the materials you use. I work with the outside elements of daylight as inspiration, for example the reflection of light in water - and then turn it into daylight opportunities inside," says James Carpenter.

All you need is light
"Build a civilisation 2.0 based on daylight, the whole daylight and nothing but daylight," was one of the messages from independent author, thinker and commentator Tor Nørretranders who is a graduate and MSc in environmental planning and the sociology of science. This means, according to Tor Nørretranders, that we have to get online with sunlight again.

"Civilisation as we know it today depots from the planet below. Civilisation as we have to invent it in the future must flow the stars above. Just as the Beatles say in one of their famous songs "all you need is love", we can say "all you need is light," concluded Tor Nørretranders.

About the Daylight Symposium
"VELUX is working hard today on the solutions of tomorrow by promoting healthy buildings that enhance our quality of life and the sustainable development of society. We want to help provide the necessary knowledge and tools to promote thorough research and analysis," says Per Arnold Andersen from VELUX.

The Daylight Symposium is part of the VELUX strategy to contribute to the continued debate among professionals about daylight quality in buildings.

The event is intended to establish a link between the academic world of researchers, the practical reality of the building industry and the people who use the buildings. One objective is to transform theory and research results into applicable practical methods, work processes and tools.

Throughout its history, VELUX has keenly focused on the optimal use of daylight in all kinds of buildings. This keen interest is naturally linked to the roof window, a product which the company has developed and refined for more than 60 years. Through the design and production of windows and accessories that control the inflow of sunlight, as well as initiatives relating to legislation and research in the areas of daylight and indoor environment, the company has throughout the years continued to express its interest in the use of daylight.

Read about the VELUX Daylight Symposium 2009, images and the findings by logging