How Sustainable Lighting Is Good for the Planet and Your Health
By Torrin Greathouse | March 19, 2015
Early humanity relied almost entirely on the sun to determine their way of life. Until recently, we have awoken at dawn and slept at dusk. With the development of artificial lights, we have grown less reliant on the natural light of the sun, moving toward a society that runs 24 hours a day. This non-stop world demands a huge amount of energy on the part of both the individual and our planet. Inefficient methods of artificial lighting only serve to increase the damage this causes.
Incorporating sustainable lighting methods, especially those that utilize daylight, is a huge stride toward lessening the environmental and human impact of lighting. Sustainable lighting technologies are proven to be not only beneficial to human health, but integral in minimizing the harm our high-speed lives do to the planet.
The Human Element
Scientists have known for decades about the human body’s intrinsic need for light. They are only now, however, beginning to realize how profound an effect light quality has on our bodies. Incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs deliver a narrow spectrum of light, which oftentimes flicker due to inconsistent voltage in the socket. This causes a person’s eyes to strain in order to focus, which is an effect that has been noted in several studies as a source of migraine headaches. Consistent eye strain, especially for those who spend several hours a day in front of computers, can also cause vision to degenerate.
Studies also show that something as simple as the color of light can have a great effect on human sleep cycles. A 2012 study by Harvard Medical School found that light which falls toward the blue wavelength of the visible spectrum can actually reduce the level of melatonin (a neurotransmitter which regulates sleep) in the brain. This is because the color blue mimics the daytime sky, which triggers the human brain to be active and aware. Some incandescent, fluorescent, and LED bulbs create narrow spectrum light in this exact wavelength, which causes fatigue and insomnia, as well as the development of conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder and pre-diabetes. In contrast, broad spectrum sunlight has been shown to reduce the presence of symptoms related to these health conditions, as well as aid in the prevention of multiple sclerosis, hypertension, and some autoimmune diseases.
Protecting Our Planet
The effects of lighting also have a huge impact on our planet. Lighting has always been a natural part of our daily lives, so much so that people rarely notice just how large its presence is. Forty percent of the electricity used in commercial properties is consumed by electric lighting alone. Since 67% of electricity in the U.S. is produced by burning fossil fuels, then utilizing more sustainable lighting methods to lower energy consumption will not only curb the rapid consumption of fossil fuels, but also decrease the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gasses.
Just as important, is the reduction in physical byproducts of lighting. The U.S. consumes nearly two billion light bulbs every year--nearly 310 million pounds of waste material--and according to the State of New Jersey Division of Science Research and Technology, nearly 40% of these bulbs are improperly disposed of and are releasing a high concentration of lead, mercury, and other hazardous toxins into the environment. If they get into the groundwater, these contaminants can disrupt ecosystems and poison water supplies.
Ensuring the reduction of waste is essential, not only to protecting the planet, but also to protecting ourselves and future generations. The most effective method of doing this is to incorporate an off-the-grid and highly efficient daylighting system such as the Ciralight SunTracker system into your building’s design. This solution is a one-time installation, so it does not generate the high levels of toxic physical waste leftover by most artificial lighting. Even though LEDs are also an efficient option, they are not optimal, because they do still consume electricity and generate physical waste.
Ciralight Global Inc. manufactures a cutting edge daylighting solution, the Ciralight SunTracker. The SunTracker utilizes solar panels, GPS technology, and a mirror array to actively track the sun throughout the day. It provides illumination for more hours per day than any other daylighting device—up to 10.5 hours a day! Also, because the light from SunTrackers is broad spectrum natural sunlight, health risks are minimized while the benefits are maximized, and your facility receives free, high quality light.
To learn more about Ciralight SunTrackers and how they can benefit both you and the planet, visit our website, or contact our sales team today.
image credit: Chris Ford / Flickr / CC BY
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