There is an exciting movement among us — a movement that holds profound implications for businesses, public health, and quality of life. The design of our built environments is evolving to meet our biological needs, which have been significantly compromised in the modern work culture that requires us to spend most of our time indoors. These compromises come with a cost, as workplace productivity and output have been directly linked to wellbeing. To address this need, organizations such as the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) are helping to transform our buildings and communities in ways that set people up to thrive. Many builders now prefer to have their properties be endorsed by the highly revered WELL Building Standard™.
Within WELL there is a focus on circadian lighting, a standard that can be difficult to achieve in most internal spaces with common artificial lighting. Now, the BIOS SkyBlue® technology that was originally developed at NASA for the International Space Station is available to help specifiers and designers move toward satisfying Circadian Lighting Design Feature 54 under the WELL Building Standard™.
What is the WELL Building Standard™?
A leading global rating system, it is the first to focus exclusively on the ways that buildings can improve people’s health rather than compromise it. The WELL Standard is rapidly gaining traction, as popularity continues to broaden for enhancing workplace productivity and wellbeing through healthier lifestyle practices.
WELL covers several core concepts of health — including air, water, materials, sound, and light. For the lighting requirements, the goal is to minimize disruption to the body’s circadian system, which would improve sleep quality and productivity. The light concept consists of 11 features, with feature 54 being focused on circadian lighting design.
The Circadian Rhythm and Wellness
The circadian rhythm — the internal system that regulates various processes in the body — takes its cues from the sun. However, modern technology has moved society indoors, where we now spend most of our time under artificial light. This disrupts our circadian rhythm and greatly compromises our health and functionality. Natural light is essential to regulating circadian rhythms, but the artificial light that is widely used cannot communicate with circadian biology. True circadian lighting, however, achieves just that — it brings the sun indoors and communicates directly with the body on a biological level.
Feature 54: Circadian Lighting Design
The WELL Standard has a focus on circadian lighting through feature 54. This feature is intended to support circadian health by setting a minimum threshold for daytime light intensity — ultimately limiting the disruption to our circadian system from the lighting in our environment. Feature 54 proposes an alternate metric — Equivalent Melanopic Lux (EML) — which measures the light’s biological effects on humans and our circadian cycle. This feature establishes melanopic light intensity requirements in four areas, including work spaces, living environments, breakrooms, and learning areas. Shifts in color temperature change melanopic content. EML is a ratio to convert standard lux into melanopic equivalent. Currently, the WELL Building Standard targets 250 Melanopic Lux.
SkyBlue®: True Biological Light
BIOS SkyBlue® technology provides industry-leading LED solutions that contribute toward meeting the circadian lighting portions of the WELL Building Standard. This technology can be implemented into any existing LED to transform artificial light into natural light that stimulates circadian biology. By providing a specific wavelength of light, BIOS SkyBlue® mimics natural sunlight and communicates directly with our biology.
A recent discovery of a photoreceptor in the human eye has helped us to understand our biological sensitivity to the “blue-sky” wavelength of the sun’s light. There are two regions of blue light — a good blue light region and a bad blue light region. The good blue light appears more like a “blue sky” color, while the bad blue light appears as a more royal blue hue and is defined by the Illuminating Engineering Society as Blue Light Hazard. Our circadian biology needs the blue-sky light wavelength but can be disrupted by the hazardous blue light. While standard LED technology has a trough in the good blue light region and peaks in the bad blue light region, BIOS SkyBlue® provides the maximum good blue light with minimal bad blue light. It’s the right spectrum on the proper curve to regulate circadian rhythm.
BIOS SkyBlue® circadian lighting technology outperforms all traditional phosphor-converted white LEDs on the market, and offers the highest melanopic to photopic lux ratio (m/p ratio) for a given color temperature. With this high m/p ratio, BIOS is able to provide the increased melanopic content at color temperatures that designers prefer and that clients have come to expect. BIOS lighting solutions also meet other features within the WELL Light Concept, including color quality offering 83+ CRI and R9 values at 90, visual comfort metrics, and higher m/p ratios at any color temperature than traditional LEDs.
BIOS partners with lighting industry manufacturers and lighting designers to provide healthy, low energy lighting to everyone. We are proud to support the WELL Building Standard™ with our own VP of Research, Robert Soler, serving as both a WELL Advisor and Faculty Member. Learn more about SkyBlue® technology here.