Daylighting and Health


The Health Benefits of Daylighting

Plants aren’t the only living organisms that metabolize sunlight, we human beings do too. While the relationship daylight exposure and our health isn’t simple, it is important to know. Most people are aware of the risk of skin cancer from long exposure without protection, a number of studies and scientists suggest that moderate exposure leads to a surprising number of health benefits.

  1. Daylight helps lower blood pressure.

    A group of researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that as soon as daylight hits the skin, a compound is released that helps lower blood pressure.

  2. Daylight improves bone health.

    The most well-known health benefit of daylight is the creation of Vitamin D when daylight hits the skin. The creation of Vitamin D also creates Vitamin D3, which has been shown to reduce risks of bone fractures.

  3. Daylight improves brain functions.

    A study by the University of Cambridge found that higher levels of vitamin D were correlated with higher levels of cognitive function. The inverse was also true, where lower the levels of Vitamin D among those with lower cognitive function. Even more studies have shown that daylight could help with grown of nerve cells in the hippocampus, which is responsible for creating and storing memories.

  4. Daylight eases mild depression.

    A lack of daylight can cause a condition called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is a common mild form of depression in the winter months or for workers who have long hours in artificially lit buildings. Moderate daylight increases the levels of natural antidepressants in the brain, like serotonin.

  5. Daylight improves sleep quality.

    When daylight hits our eyes, the brain sends a message to the pineal gland to stop production of melatonin, the hormone mainly responsible for making us drowsy. When it starts to get dark, the message stops and melatonin is produced again. Over production of melatonin during the day leads to low levels at night, making it harder to fall asleep.

  6. Daylight improves growth in children.

    Studies have revealed that amount of daylight a child gets, especially in the first few months of it life, has an effect on how tall the child grows.

  7. Daylight improves the immune system.

    Daylight helps suppress an overactive immune system, which is why daylight is used to treat autoimmune diseases like psoriasis. Daylight also causes an increase in white blood cells, which play a key role in fighting diseases and infections.

  8. Daylight reduces risk of some cancers.

    Scientists from the University of California noticed that higher levels of Vitamin D drop your risk of many cancers, especially colon cancer and breast cancer. Other studies show that Vitamin D supplementation produce a dramatic 60% drop in risk of developing any form of cancer.

Blue spectrum of light.

The biggest reasons for these health benefits is the full spectrum of color that daylight provides. Most artificial light is on the yellow spectrum only, whereas natural daylight carries the full spectrum, especially blue.

It is important that daylighting systems must not filter out the blue spectrum of light. These benefits cannot be achieved without the blue spectrum of light. When a daylighting system has yellowed it is actually a failed system because it is filtering out the blue spectrum of light.

Case Study: Chase Bank

Pentaglas Lights Up Akron Children’s Hospital


Interactive daylighting & color changing LEDs help heal at the Akron Children’s Hospital

Using LED light boxes to illuminate 14,500 sq-ft of CPI Daylighting’s Pentaglas® panels covering a new five-story parking garage, the Akron Children’s Hospital hopes to heal through color.

Akron Children's Hospital at night with blue LED lighting.
Akron Children’s Hospital at night with blue LED lighting.

“The panels have helped make the parking deck a real landmark in town. The first night they were operational, the president of the hospital was getting calls from people in the hospital and others in town saying it was really neat that the colors changed.”  – Michael Marz, GPD Group.

When the new adjacent children’s critical care tower opens in May, patients in common areas and those with a window view from their rooms will be given iPads with controls to change the color of the panels as they see fit, creating an interactive mural of light visible to all.

“We were looking for something that could be illuminated and that would help punch the color from the LED’s out.”

Free spanning from floor to floor, most of the panels are one continuous length, providing a seamless, flush look around the four-sided parking structure. Specified in ice white, the single-panel system was installed in two custom sizes: 50ft tall by 12ft long and 32ft tall by 12ft long.

“The ability of the Pentaglas panels to transmit the light uniformly and help diffuse it so we didn’t have a single-point source of light was what we were looking for. Blending nicely from top to bottom, we don’t get any hot spots.”

Featuring CPI Daylight’s Nano-Cell technology, which promotes long-term resistance to impact and wind loading due to its small cell structure and tightly spaced rib supports, the panels are made with an internal flexibility that absorbs thermal expansion across the panel in all directions. Most significantly, the panels offer light-diffusion capabilities that ensure excellent quality of natural light. They are 100% recyclable, making them ideal for any LEED project, and are made with heavy-duty co-extruded UV protection.

Akron Children's Hospital during the day, with the LEDs off.
Akron Children’s Hospital during the day, with the LEDs off.

Due to the collaborative nature of the design-build project at the hospital, the architects and contractors worked closely with CPI Daylighting. “The hospital wanted to know that the installation would look right, so CPI sent out panels and we did a full-scale mock-up on the floor before we installed them.” said Marz. Built to serve multiple hospital facilities, the parking garage has become a local attraction.

Daylighting Helps Healing

Evidence-based design teams determine that light and color effect healing.

Evidence based design has determined from studies that color and light do shorten healing time. Natural light aids healing including reducing pain medications needed by 22%. Check out the video link below for more information.