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Bringing 2016 into the Light

By Derek Malmquist, Vice President of Marketing

Jan. 7, 2016

It’s officially 2016, and inevitably the start of every New Year is accompanied by resolutions, usually focused around becoming happier and healthier. But this year, it’s time to look beyond how working out and eating right impact a human’s wellbeing – and start looking at the big picture.

On average, Americans spend 93 percent of their lives indoors – with a majority of this time spent behind a desk in a dimly lit office space (or, ironically, in some cases, in a space that has too much heat and glare from the sun). And although this is the reality of modern life, spending each day behind four walls, alienated from nature, is not good for overall wellbeing. As humans, our connection to the outdoors is part of our biological inheritance, and we crave it!  

So, how can building owners and architects work to improve the psychological and physiological health of humans working in commercial office space in the New Year? By removing barriers and providing building occupants with an unobstructed connection to the outside world.  One good way to achieve that is with electrochromic glass.

Electrochromic glass – sometimes also called dynamic glass – tints on demand to ensure that exactly the right amount of light and heat enters a space through the window.  No blinds or shades are needed. In most cases, the glass operates on automatic sensors so it is always in optimal mode and the building occupant does not need to do anything.  But, just in case, there is always a manual button available to change the tint level on the spot, if necessary.

Offering employees a workspace that is connected to the natural environment, through the installation of electrochromic glass, is truly an investment in overall employee health. The University of Minnesota states that viewing scenes of nature reduces anger, stress and fear and increases pleasant feelings. It also contributes to physiological well-being by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones. By maintaining a connection to nature, employees are able to experience these biophilic effects of the outdoors along with enhanced creativity and clarity of thought, resulting in an overall improved sense of health and well-being.

A study at the University of Oregon revealed that 10 percent of employee absences can be attributed to architectural elements that do not connect with nature. Additionally, the study found that a person’s view was the primary predictor of absenteeism. By installing dynamic glass and maintaining connections to the outdoors, employees will not feel like they are isolating themselves when entering the work environment and as a result will be more likely to come to work on a consistent, regular basis. In addition, employees in an environment connected to nature will be even more productive, according to researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Rocky Mountain Institute who found that green building features, including daylighting and views of the outdoors, resulted in increased productivity.

Thus, electrochromic glass, as a connector to the outdoors, combats some of the undesirable aspects of a traditional workplace, such as loss of focus, absenteeism and negative mood. By getting rid of these negatives, employees are more likely to come to work with a positive mood, boosting overall productivity.

Along with these health benefits, the installation of dynamic glass allows building owners to rely less on outdated mechanical systems and maintenance practices. Electrochromic glass provides thermal and visual comfort and enhances occupant comfort without depending on energy-intensive HVAC systems, making it a win-win for building occupants as well as the environment.

With dynamic glass’ potential in the office environment, and the positive effects it can provide for building occupants as well as the environment, let’s take advantage of this technology in the New Year! It’s time to follow through with this year’s resolutions in a whole new way.