By Paul Tarricone
“Light and wellness.” Short and sweet. Fits on a bumper sticker. Or on an editorial calendar. Or on the spine of a magazine if you’re holding the print copy of LD+A. It’s useful shorthand, but today’s definition of “light and wellness” would require a three-ring binder, not a bumper sticker.
Consider the evolution of light and health. Mom used to say, “Stop watching TV, go outside, and get some fresh air and sun. It’s good for you.” Building owners would tell their architect, “Windows please. Let’s add some natural light to our space.” Then, in no particular order: “circadian lighting,” “human-centric lighting” (love the term or hate it), and the tools, such as tunable luminaires, to facilitate bright days and dark nights, and a Circadian Stimulus calculator (p. 62) to put a number on it. Toss in everything from germicidal light applications to streetlights that mitigate light trespass, stir, let simmer and you’ve got a veritable stew of light-and-wellness buzzwords and strategies.
In this theme issue, we add another ingredient to the mix: material transparency, which urges manufacturers to disclose the “environmental, health and social impacts of their products.” While I hadn’t heard the term before, Melissa Mattes and her team at Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting are committed to specifying sustainable products and used the pandemic months to conduct a survey of lighting manufacturers to explore the extent to which these companies are transparent about what goes into in their luminaires et al. (the survey results appear on p. 56). The transparency trend line appears headed in the right direction, at least incrementally, and for those designers who really want to hold their manufacturers’ feet to the fire, Mattes wraps the article with checklist of questions to ask at your next product demo.
We’ve come a long way from get out of the house, light’s good for you. Although that advice never gets old.