Think about the space which you are lighting and those who will be working within it daily. What about your colour scheme, what colour temperature of lamp might work best with the finishes and really bring the space to life. As a rule of thumb 3000K is a warmish colour temperature and 4000K is neutral white. Both are well tolerated in an office space. The other element to consider is geographical location. After all if you are in a warm country you might favour a cooler colour temperature to fool the brain into thinking it’s not as hot as it is (yes this works!). Alternatively in more northern European countries it might work in reverse and you may prefer 3000K to make the space feel warmer and cosier. Be aware of the space and not just the requirement for light, after all it’s the people within the space who have to use it that matter most.
What sort of task will be done in your office space? Will it be colour critical? Will it involve matching items or seeing contrast and shade? The colour rendering of a lamp/LED can be crucial within a space and in most circumstances it’s better to get a high CRI than a low one. This scale runs from 1-100 with 100 being closest to having natural daylight properties as is possible with an artificial light source. Something with a CRI of over 90 is deemed to be a good choice for a light source, so if you want your colours to pop then 90-98 is what to aim for. Also be careful with the R9 red component in LED as this can sometimes be weak. Choose your manufacturer for their quality rather than price and ensure you get a product that is right for the space.
Using LED technology in an office now means you have the flexibility to use tuneable white within your luminaires. This means that as the day changes the colour temperature of the light from your luminaires can change too. The benefit being that this begins to reflect what natural light is doing without going as far as being true circadian lighting. It can however enhance the user experience and anything that brings us closer to natural light should always be considered in a space. After all, we are humans and we are biologically tuned into changes in light and colour so embrace this movement in the lighting industry and let’s have everyone working under more natural conditions.
Some offices are designed by people who are obviously never going to have to work in them. After all who would want to work in a dark, gloomy space with dark ceilings and walls, not me!? So consider your choice of luminaire and make sure it’s right for the activities that will be performed in the space. A luminaire does have to have some form of control of its light output when it’s being used with display screen equipment (DSE) however, this is guidance and it needs to be appropriate for the size, shape and use of the office. Don’t be led by your contractor who might just put in basic louvered luminaires because it’s cheaper and more cost effective for them. Challenge the choices made and where possible employ a competent lighting designer to make sure you get an office lighting design you are proud of and that your staff love.
This is a very basic way of lighting an office space and often ends up producing the cave effect mentioned above. Basic compliance is never the best way to light a space as it only caters for the bare minimum in light levels and often does not work with the space or those using it. Be brave, aim for better!
This standard gives a specification for the illumination on walls and ceilings in relation to the working plane lux levels. This at least encourages people to think about the space as a whole and not just meet lux levels on a desk. Use a luminaire which produces some vertical light so that the space feels brighter and more welcoming. If the walls and ceilings feel brighter then you often do not need as much light on the desk as the brain perceives this as being a brighter space than it is. So you might actually save energy and produce a more effective lighting design. Sometimes less really is more.
Once you have established your baseline for lighting the office think about how you want it actually look when people enter the space? Highlight key features to add interest and perhaps use a stronger shapes for pendent luminaires over reception desks or boardroom tables. It always helps to light the strong vertical elements in any space so if you have pillars or feature walls think about their impact on the visual scene and light these elements for the greatest effect.
As with any design the scheme will always need to be maintained at some point even if it uses LED. How will your maintenance person or contractor access the luminaires once desks and people are in the way? Will you need a scissor lift to reach luminaires in high ceilings? What cleaning regime will they require? All of these questions should be thought you about when you design and plan your space as mistakes for this part of the design process can be costly in the longer term.
In these days of energy concerns and flexible working conditions a functional and suitable controls system should always be considered for the design process. This will give the option to set ‘scenes’ for the space, to daylight dim where possible and to presence sense if applicable. It will also allow in some cases luminaires to be individually switched which gives the users of the space the greatest flexibility and control over their own working environment. Many system are available however consider what your real needs are, who will be using the system and how user friendly it will be. After all there is no point in having a really sophisticated system if no one knows how to use it. Also consider the Internet of Things (IoT) and how in the future your controls might need to work with other pieces of equipment. Think ahead as integration at a later date may well be a costly add on and reduce user flexibility.
The final element to always consider when designing any space is the health and well-being of those within it. We provide light so that we can go about our daily tasks indoors or at night. The space doesn’t need lighting, the people do. So the bottom line of design is always think about the user and ensure that the light provided enhances the space and ensures all relevant tasks can be completed within it safely and comfortably.