Daylight benefits built environment

For those of us living in temperate Northern climates, daylight benefits are easy to recognise; a couple of sunny days seem to lift everyone’s spirits. Contrastingly, research shows that suicide rates are considerably higher in parts of the world where daylight is very limited for significant parts of the year.

There is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that buildings enjoying high levels of natural light are literally more successful than those more reliant on artificial light. Ultimately, in all environments, the eye and brain functions respond better to natural light, so people perform better, while passive solar gain can reduce energy costs.

In the education sector

Research demonstrates a clear correlation between classrooms with good natural light and improved student performance and attendance. This is because children concentrate better and are more focused in natural light settings. Further, some studies suggest that health is also enhanced helping to explain the improved attendance.

In the healthcare sector

In the UK we are used to hearing of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a clinically diagnosed condition in which the lack of sunlight in winter makes people feel depressed. Natural light helps people to feel better but it can also aid the healing process. In hospitals, studies have proven that the recovery rate of patients is accelerated where levels of natural light are increased. 

In public buildings and transport facilities

Daylight is as a free, natural resource, that significantly improves the enjoyability of large public spaces. It also helps to control energy costs and improves safety levels for building occupants.

Daylight benefits in the office or school

In domestic properties and leisure facilities

People like bright naturally lit environments, evidenced by the huge popularity of domestic conservatories and sunrooms. It is therefore logical that in their leisure time people prefer facilities enjoying high levels of daylight. Many sporting and recreational facilities have been designed to maximise natural daylight in recognition of this.

In commercial and retail environments

Daylight improves concentration so that working environments, be they factories or offices with natural light, tend to achieve increased productivity. Research into retail environments suggests that in many situations sales tend to be better in naturally lit locations; colours are more vivid and true, making goods appear attractive and encouraging customers to spend more time in these areas. A number of the UK’s leading retail organisations include large areas of rooflights in specifications for all new build projects to ensure a high percentage of evenly distributed natural light within the interior.

Daylight canopy in retail setting

For further information, read our Quickguide 05 'BENEFITS OF NATURAL DAYLIGHT'.

Thumbnail of PDF Quickguide 05
Quickguide 05

Benefits of natural daylight