WELL Concept #4: Light

WELL Concept #4: Light 

Beyond our visual perception of the world, the effect of light on health and well-being is an age-old precept and one that has been well documented over time. According to our resident expert, Lilker Lighting Group (LLG) Director David Cyr, lighting plays a central role in the human experience. It’s a catalyst that helps us lead happier, healthier and more productive lives. 



In addition to the aesthetic and functional importance of lighting, it also helps to regulate our circadian system, which drives our sleep/wake cycle. Disruption of circadian rhythms—and the hor

mones produced in the process—affects multiple physiological processes such as alertness and digest

ion, and has been linked with obesity, diabetes, depression and metabolic disorders. Furthermore, uneven levels of brightness can cause visual fatigue and discomfort.

The WELL Building Standard® for Light provides guidelines for the built environment that seek to minimize circadian disruption, enhance productivity, support good sleep quality and provide appropriate visual acuity. There are four preconditions for achieving WELL for Light:
  • Visual Lighting Design, which sets thresholds for adequate light levels, requires balanced illumination throughout the indoor space, and mandates brightness management strategies that consider contrast between spaces and surfaces as well as light distribution across ceiling
  • Circadian Lighting Design, which sets a minimum threshold for daylight light intensity in melanopic lumens, a metric that measures the biological effects of light on humans
  • Electric Light Glare Control, minimizing direct and overhead glare
  • Solar Glare Control, via window shading, glazing, and interior light shelving and/or window micro-mirrors that reflect sunlight toward the ceiling 


Light optimization features for Gold and Platinum level WELL certification range from providing low-glare workstation design to lighting that enhances spatial aesthetics and color differentiation, to surface design choices that increase overall brightness and minimize glare. Other optimizations include automated shading and dimming controls, access to daylight, and daylight modeling that ensures appropriate amounts of natural light throughout the course of the day and across the seasons. This can be achieved, for example, by using tunable fixtures that change color from warm to cool to mimic daylight fluctuations.

Implementation of WELL for Light requires the expertise of a lighting design professional who can specify the appropriate fixtures in the optimal configuration and at the right settings, and an installation team that can program and test the system, to achieve the desired results.

If you’d like take a deeper dive into WELL and best lighting practices, please email me or LLG Director David Cyr.
To view past installments of our WELL series, please click here

Wishing you WELL
Bruce Lilker, PE, LEED AP®, WELL AP

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