RBS TQ2 - Circadian Lighting
Welcome to your new circadian office, one of the first office in the UK to provide healthy, human-centric lighting for their valued employees.
In 2012, NASA spent $12 million on a circadian lighting system, as part of the Mars 560 mission, as they discovered that it would improve their astronauts’ health, productivity and sleep. RBS has installed a biologically optimised circadian lighting system, designed and manufactured in the UK by British manufacturer PhotonStar LED, for its more “earthly” employees to provide a healthier, happier environment. This floor of RBS Trinity Quay is one of the first in the world to offer a lighting system that has health and wellbeing benefits for its employees and will help you to relax, concentrate and sleep better as part of a normal body clock cycle.
Read about the NASA project HERE
The lights in this office will automatically change colour and intensity throughout the day to ensure that your body is receiving the right type of light for the time of day as nature intended. During the daytime the lights will be bright and stimulating which keeps you alert and helps to optimise your body to its normal daytime functions such as digestion and being physically active. It may help you stay focussed whilst you work in the same way spending time outside in daylight does. If you work into the evening, the lights will become candle like to create a relaxing atmosphere and help your body to relax and wind down ready for a good night’s sleep. This type of light is ideal for evenings as it is non-stimulating so won’t upset your natural body clock, yet still allows you to see and complete activities such as reading. We recommend that you also dim your PC screen at this time to maintain good vision and to avoid the light from the PC disrupting your body clock, and consider changing any settings on your mobile phone/tablet.
The Science Behind It
Humans, like other animals, evolved to function in an environment that has a dark/light cycle. In daylight we are physically and mentally active, productive, we eat and we are very alert. In darkness, we sleep, breathe slowly, our heartbeat slows and our core temperature cools. Our modern lives however, require that we use light to see during nature’s dark period, or we live in places where there are less hours of daylight than we evolved to function well in.
The circadian lighting in your workplace mimics natural daylight in the day and creates 'biological darkness' at night by changing the colour and spectrum automatically throughout a 24hr period. During the daytime, the halcyon lighting system will provide the maximum levels of (circadian blue rich) cool white light that has been optimised to stimulate receptors in your eyes (iPRGCs) like natural daylight does. This will give a strong signal to your body that it is daytime, even on a dark winter day. This can help not only to boost alertness, but also to keep your body in a solid circadian (day/night sleep/wake) cycle. In the evening when nature would not normally expose you to light, the Halcyon lighting will automatically reduce the light levels a little, and change to a very warm reddish glow that has been optimised spectrally to avoid stimulating the special cells in your eye (iPRGCs) so your body clock is being told that it is “dark” in biological terms and allows it to rest, relax and prepare for sleep at a normal time. It still allows you to see well as your visual system functions well in this redder colour of light, but maybe somewhat different than the workplace lighting you are used to.
What about light levels to enable me to see and do my job?
The new lights in the office were designed to meet new guidelines for office lighting, delivering a perfect balance between direct and diffuse light. You will notice a more balanced light level with brighter walls and ceilings – eliminating what is known as “cave effect” and reducing glare which is better for your visual comfort.
Good shadow conditions, which are important for three-dimensional vision and orientation, are the product of a reasonable balance between these two forms of illuminance (between 30 and 70%). Direct light alone creates harsh shadows, whereas purely diffuse lighting generates a flat and monotonous effect without any shadows at all – these lights are designed to deliver the correct balance.
The light levels vary slightly throughout the day, being slightly higher than the previous levels during the day and slightly lower in the evening. The levels are still within the CIBSE guidelines to enable you to see well, but the reduced light and warm colour is required under new standards to avoid disrupting your body clock when you work during the evening.
If you find that you do not see as well in the night setting, you should dim your PC screen as the PC emits a lot of blue light which causes your pupils to constrict and you will be less able to see well. See how here.
Lights turning on and off by themselves
This lighting was installed primarily to give a healthier environment for all those that work here, however the same system will turn lights off that are not in use to save energy.
The main areas are zoned into several main walkways, and desk clusters. Each of these zones will turn on and off independently. At time of writing, lights will switch off if no one has been in that space for 30 minutes, but we can change this timing if feedback says we need to.
The side rooms have a sensor and a switch. The sensor is primarily to turn the lights off if someone forgets, so when you enter the room you may need to use the touch plate switch to turn the lights on. You can also use this plate to dim lights for presentations. The touch plate is an advanced new technology which requires you to just briefly touch one gently. You should avoid making multiple presses as this may overload the software.