Sustainable You

Sustainability and the Built Environment

Wk 11: Sustainable Lighting Options

Response due at the beginning of class 10/29 – (1 answer per each Studio).

We’ve identified that natural lighting is an issue at CAES.  We have also established that we can not remove the ceiling tiles above the office to bring natural light into the office spaces. Therefore, creativity and ingenuity must occur in your design. 

1) How can “light shelves” be used in the project? 

2) What are the advantages and disadvantages of “light shelves”?

3) Please share some of your design ideas to bring the feeling of natural light into the CAES office space.  Use your verbal design language to explain your design solutions for the issue of minimal natural light.


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4)  When I began living in Oregon (grey and raining much of the time) after having grown up in Arizona (sun all the time), I had physical

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problems adjusting to the lack of natural light in my daily routine.  I would feel lathergic, unmotived, tired and wasn’t sleeping well.  My symptoms were mild, but some people experience serious symptoms called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).    Light therapy (phototherapy) is often a useful way to improve individuals health indoors.  In Oregon in the morning, I would use the Litebook Elite to get the 15-20 minutes of simulated daylight I needed – it helped me dramatically feel more energized. 

Please do research on “Light Therapy or Phototherapy” for design ideas.  And report to use your findings. Share links and information.


Filed under: Sustainable Design

4 Responses

  1. Studio KP says:

    1.By putting light shelves on all the clerestory windows, light comes in and reflects the light back onto the ceiling and bounces off the ceiling into the rest of the space. They have a high reflective upper surface to reflect the daylight deeper into the space. If possible, they should be placed on the southern side so the building to get a maximum amount of light. More specifically, they can be placed in the offices or above the offices in the high ceilings.
    2.Light shelves may not be suitable for all climates and they extend far into the space so duct work and sprinkler systems mat interfere. They also require a higher than normal ceiling, which is ok in this project but may not work for other spaces. They also increase maintenance, cleaning and upkeep. An advantage is that by using them, the space requires less artificial light and the natural light is better for you emotional and physical health. They can also be integrated into the building and can be aesthetically pleasing and part of a good design. It also can give a possible LEED point.
    3.We could use full spectrum lighting in the offices and throughout the entire area or use light shelves as we discussed above. We could also implement daylight lamps into the design on accent tables throughout the space. We also will not be blocking the clerestory windows so that we can use full potential of the natural light. To bring in more feeling of natural light, we would use paint colors and soothing aesthetics to give the space a feeling of being outside.
    4.This link was very helpful to understand SAD. Exposure to a light therapy alter your circadian rhythms and suppress your body’s release of melatonin to help with depression.
    Another website has a question and answer about light therapy. A typical light therapy system has a setof fluorescent bulbs installed in a box. This can be placed on a table so that you can use it when treatment is needed. To get full potential out of treatment, you must sit close, with eyes open.

  2. Studio AA: Anna Averett, Lauren Lee, Laura Murdock, Margaret Reid says:

    1)Within our design, light shelves can be used to disperse natural light throughout the space. First of all, the light shelves can be placed on the clerestory windows to help illuminate the entire office space. Studio AA also intends on using transept windows on the front entry of every office which can also house the light shelves.
    2) From our research, we have found the light shelves can run roughly $100 a piece which may not seem expensive, but with the number of windows we are wanting to include within our plan can be expensive. Another negative aspect to light shelves is the aesthetic appearance of them. As for the positive, light shelves do illuminate spaces well. They take directional lighting and diffuse it throughout the space. Within our design, we are trying to bring in as much natural light as possible to help promote a healthy work environment.
    3)To bring in more natural light into the working environment, our design includes ceiling skylights, transepts, and frosted glass doors. We hope these elements will not only bring in light within the space, but open each space up.
    4)We were extremely interested by the litebook concept. One of our groups members has personal experience with the product and found it to be beneficial. The light therapy releases Vitamin D increases the body’s production of endorphins, decreasing depression. Here are a list of websites which expand upon Vitamin D’s properties:
    We also found a very interesting article about light therapy and jetlag which continues on with the website:

  3. Studio LW - Lila Wilson, Ashley Sellen, Mhyria Miller, Amanda Cook says:

    1. We can implement light shelves in the clerestory windows to reflect the natural light up to the ceiling and then back throughout the office space. They will create less need for fluorescent or alternative lighting. The additional natural light will also create a happier office environment as a result of less artificial lighting.

    2. Some advantages are that light shelves reduce the amount of artificial light and increase the distance of natural light up to four times. Studies have shown light shelves increase occupant comfort of work productivity. Light shelves also qualify for LEED points. Some disadvantages would be that they are not suitable for tropical or desert climates because of intense solar rays. Also, light shelves may interfere with the building’s sprinkler systems because they can extend into the path of the water. Another disadvantage comes with increased maintenance requirements.

    3. In addition to light shelves, we will allow the added natural light to reach into the office through the installation of glass walls and other reflective surfaces throughout the space. We will reduce the amount of fluorescent lights and implement uplighting systems that give the feel of natural light while reducing glare. In all light fixtures, task and ambient, we will implement natural light bulbs that give the feeling of natural light while still being artificial.

    4. Light therapy with modern phototherapy lamps filter or altogether do not emit ultraviolet rays and are therefore safe as long as the people exposed do not have eye conditions. Light therapy can cause anxiety and other side effects. Light boxes are safe for the eyes and free of glare that can be disturbing. Circadian rythymns can be regulated through the regular use of a light box and promote health in individuals that are deprived of natural light. Being light deprived can cause weight gain through the increased craving for carbohydrates and difficulty falling asleep and waking up; these can be remedied through the use of light boxes. This site had some interesting effects of light boxes and of light deprivation .

  4. Studio KW says:

    We can implement light shelves right below the existing clerestory windows. These light shelves will reflect the light back into the building further than it would with just a window. The light bounces off the shelf and then off the ceiling throwing the light into the building. The light scatters at many different angels providing diverse coverage. The ceiling however should be painted with reflective paint so the light spreads as far as possible. This is considered a sustainable design because it give you extra light without using energy.

    The advantages are that the light shelves don’t consume energy and give you more light. The heat energy added to a room is only slightly more than what would be added with standard electric lighting. It optimizes the use of the incoming natural light. The disadvantages are they do not work when there is no natural light. They increase cleaning and maintenance. They stick out into the room so they require high ceilings and might get in the way of duct work.

    We are planning on using reflective surfaces in our design to move as much natural light as possible through the office. Stainless steel, mirrors, metallic tiles, reflective paints, and lots of glass are all surfaces that should reflect the light well. The glass will also allow the light to flow into the spaces. We will focus on task lighting to help individuals get lighting levels to where they should be.

    Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. Generally the symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months making you have less energy and cause you to be come moodier. This could be affecting the employees of CAES because they get almost no natural light. Treatment for SAD includes light therapy.
    There are many products available to help people and their SAD. These products aim to give people more simulated daylight easing their symptoms some.
    Light therapy should be used first thing in the morning to get the melatonin moving through your body.

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