Light has biological effects on the human body. A variety of diseases, including cancer and diabetes, appear to have links to the circadian rhythm according to recent research studies. Various nocturnal animal species also suffer from light pollution, primarily near urban cities. As a lighting design professional, I get to make a difference in the local community by providing innovative lighting solutions.
One of my favorite projects was a senior living facility in Michigan. Not only did the client list the comfort of the residents as a top priority, but they also sought to be inclusive of the surrounding wildlife with a dark-sky approach. The LED lighting, controls and daylighting made it very energy efficient. I learned that investing in a sustainable design doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, involving stakeholders early on for lighting design discussions makes the end product more affordable and visually appealing.
Best part of your job?
Seeing the architect or client’s vision become a reality on the construction documents. To achieve this, communication is needed between the client and the design professional at every step of the design development phase. It is a rigorous process requiring research and practice to propose creative solutions to suit the client’s needs and problems.
Biggest obstacle you’ve encountered?
I am still trying to figure out the fine line between “energy efficiency” and “user needs and comfort” when it comes to using lighting controls and conveying the idea to the client. It is our responsibility as designers to educate clients, send them in the right direction and figure out what’s best for their facilities and occupants, as well as the biodiversity in the region.
Most important thing for the future of the lighting industry?
Spreading awareness of topics, such as the health benefits of proper lighting levels and the effects of light pollution and energy efficiency. This information needs to reach design professionals, as well as consumers, owners and stakeholders. To steer the industry ahead, we need more research on topics such as how much artificial lighting exposure we need and the intensity required to stimulate positive responses.
I believe the next big thing is to have lighting be able to communicate with weather cycles, HVAC systems, occupant mood, artificial intelligence and IoT. I hope to learn the effects of light on living organisms and how it best coexists with nature for a healthy balance.