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Focus: Office Lighting Spaces
Article published by Lighting India
 Arup’s Boston

Arup’s Boston office is the first project to receive WELL Certification in New England, USA

CSIL estimates the world market for office lighting to be approximately USD 12 billion (source: LED Report, 2019 edition) of which around USD 9 billion is LED lighting. It approximately doubled size in the United States since 2011 and no doubt, after the 2020 recession, will recover. Growth of office lighting in Europe has been slower (+30% since 2011). The US market is somewhat bigger than the European one: according to CSIL estimates, the US market is worth 1.5 times the European one as for office furniture, and 1.35 as for office lighting.

The main brands of the Acuity group (market leader in the United States) addressing the office market include: Peerless (commercial offices, mainly suspended solutions), Gotham (office, churches and auditoriums); but also Lithonia (the main brand, overall), Acculite (mainly hospitality and retail), Juno (retail), Mark Architectural Lighting, Indy, and Winona (hospitality). The type of products addressing this segment are mainly downlights and linear lighting, suspended (Aculux). The top ten European players supplying lighting for office spaces are Signify, Zumtobel, Glamox- Luxo, Fagerhult (mainly with the LTS brand), Trilux, Regent, Waldmann, Ledvance, Xal, and Erco.

The right kind of lighting for the right kind of office space

Typical office luminaires, always quoting CSIL research, include:

  • >> Recessed lighting, mainly for open spaces (around 50% of the business).
  • >> Surface lighting, either fixed on the wall than on ceilings. The range is wide, from downlights (usually cheap, for example for bathrooms) to wall washers (ambient feelings).
  • >> Suspended lighting. Pendants can be used for example in entrances (at different heights) and louvres are common in individual offices (around 15%).
  • >> Free standing lighting. For office spaces where employees work mostly sitting on desks, table lights (task lighting) can be the best solution. Not to be forgotten - floor lamps, that gives greater control over the illumination of the place. As for table lamps, the options range from high-end options offered by design brands (Artemide and Flos) to specialized products (Waldmann and Luxo) to very cheap options sold by home improvement centres. Innovative suspended panels, as well as floor lamps, offer today the possibility to switch direct/indirect lighting. Freestanding lighting is estimated to represents around 10% (if we include also in this segment the most sophisticated and high end-design products).

Most structured catalogues (Fagerhult, Zumtobel, and Luxo for example) suggest that the right product according to the necessities: entrance, open office, large offices, individual offices, communication and bathrooms. Today the share of task lighting (that is one of the ingredients for healthcare lighting) is around 12% in Europe (15% in Germany, 10% elsewhere) and 9% in the United States but the trend is necessary increasing, as new offices show less crowded desks inside open spaces and more frequent communication areas, smart working, living-like spaces.

Frequently used lighting design strategies for office spaces include

  • >> To bring natural light to heavily used areas
  • >> To use diffused light (while floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights help to distribute light throughout a space evenly, diffused light eliminates glare, hot spots, and sharp shadows that negatively impact visibility and productivity);
  • >> Install artificial lighting that mimics natural light (tunable white-light systems change colour based on the environment—on an overcast day, the colour temperature might be 6500K, while at sunset, the temperature may be 1800K).

All in all, every manufacturer of office lighting has in its portfolio all (or most of) these solutions. More and more, with options such as motion sensor, daylight control and regulation, and a dimming feature that controls light according to the illumination requirement. For most, lighting companies are engaged in these applications, office accounts for around one-fourth of the company turnover (the rest being typically healthcare, schools, industrial but also hospitality or retail).

Individual offices and open spaces

Although open-plan offices have become increasingly popular, the standard cell office is still prevalent at least in Europe and in old buildings. Direct or indirect lighting is a good solution for one-person offices. The indirect component makes the room feel bigger and brighter. Among the most popular solutions are pendant luminaires above the desk. Alternatives are recessed luminaires, often in combination with a task light to cater to individual needs. With a freestanding luminaire or a task light, the office worker may control the light level and position him- or herself. Pendant luminaires should be positioned straight above the user’s lap.

Open-plan offices vary a lot in their design. One common denominator is the line of desks occupied by office workers, but the desk area may also be mixed with sitting groups, small meeting or work tables, coffee corners and the likes. The more light there is on the walls and ceiling helps the wellbeing of the workers. Minimum requirements are 75 lux on the walls and 50 lux in the ceiling.

Each workstation should have a presence detector, to save energy when people are away. In a 40-hour workweek 30-40 % of the time is spent on travels, in meetings or elsewhere. Workplace-related office lighting, such as classical workplace luminaires (desk luminaires), standard luminaires, ceiling luminaires, and luminaires for desk-mounting or suspended luminaires offer the best options for an individual lighting solution at workplaces. In order to reap all of the benefits and the healing power of natural light in office spaces, you need to have a clear vision and trusted guidance. Experienced architects can help with both.

Future trends

There are at least two technological trends to consider when talking about office lighting: Connectivity and Human Centric Lighting (HCL). Maybe less relevant, nevertheless to be considered the so-called "Serviceability" of the products: the possibility to change just a part of the lighting fixture instead of the total one (for example only the LED modules or the driver).

We consider the LED revolution as something already happened from yearly sales today, but this is only partly due from installed stocks. The lighting industry is starting to respond with so-called human-centric or circadian lighting, dynamic lighting systems which mimic the changing colour and intensity of daylight in building interiors. Early circadian systems have already been installed in some schools, workplaces and care homes. HCL has been introduced first for office applications, schools and long-term healthcare. This type of products is manufactured by all the European leaders (Signify, Ledvance) but also mid-sized companies (Planlicht, Regiolux, and Luctra). EN 17037, the first European standard for daylight in buildings, has been published just in 2018. To obtain correct contrast conditions in the office, the light (lux level) should be strongest in the primary work area (the keyboard, or the centre of the desk), weaker in the rest of the work area and weakest in the remainder of the room.

The world market of connected lighting for office, healthcare and educational spaces is projected to multiply by four in just four years. All in all, the market for lighting controls is a bit higher in the United States than in Europe, probably for a major number of estates (offices, hotels, what else) of a bigger size. The adoption of smart lighting controls is still in the early phase. Indeed, lighting controls are increasingly becoming standard in new construction of office buildings, but this accounts only for a fraction of the total number of buildings. CSIL estimates that the incidence of lighting controls and related IoT device on the lighting fixtures market vary from around 3% to 6%. Centralizing all building controls functionality (including lighting) into a single building automation system is critical for optimizing controls for occupant comfort, satisfaction, and energy.

Light plays a crucial role in the ergonomics of a workplace. Good office lighting supports visual tasks and contributes to well-being. The luminous intensity at workplaces should, therefore, be at least 500 Lux. It is early to make an accurate forecast on the effects of Coronavirus on the office lighting sector (as for everything else) but we hazard a prediction of a 10% decrease for this year, to recover the 2019 levels in 2021 and to consolidate the growth during 2022. Inside this scenario, we forecast a growth of the share of portable lighting but not dramatic: some more than a percentage point of share in both the markets, to reach an overall value of 600-650 million USD in 2022. Two drivers have to be considered, that partly counter-balance:

  • >> More common spaces and smart working for the office work (it pushes the use of task lighting, but also decorative suspensions);
  • >> To save energy, do not spend too much on office lighting (on the opposite side).

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