Light. It’s Natural, It’s Free, and It Will Change Your Business.By Jeff Merschman
The influence and impact a work environment can have on a business’ bottom line is significant. Consider central air and heat. The ability to control the climate within a building has lead to increased productivity, safer working conditions, improved worker moral, reduced overhead costs, and greater product integrity.
But controlling a work environment is a recurring expense. And as volatile temperatures continue to disrupt once predictable seasons, the need for innovative and affordable solutions will only increase.
One such solution has been beating down on us since the dawn of time: Natural light.
Seems obvious, right? It has been to residential designers and architects who have long harnessed natural light in homes and apartments. Think skylights and glass sliding doors and the California-driven approach to “bringing the outside in.” But it’s taken some time for industrial site designers and architects to look to natural light as a way to illuminate spaces and warm rooms. Today, that’s changing.
Natural Light Has a Measurable Effect on Productivity
A great example is the East Lansing, Michigan-based Peckham Inc.’s new 109,000-square-foot facility, recently featured in Area Development Online. According to the article, the facility made natural light a central focus, literally, by constructing a large light well in the middle of the building.
While benefits to overhead cost are expected (the construction was just finished this spring), Peckham discovered an almost unintended benefit: Natural light helped break down the barriers between white and blue-collar workers.
By providing natural light throughout the building in a central location, everyone had access to the “corner office,” so to speak. Natural light was available to everyone, not just C-suite employees. In addition to the cultural influence of natural light, it’s expected that Peckham’s natural light design will potentially contribute somewhere between 20 and 50 percent in energy savings.
Bringing Natural Light Inside
At Big Top, we’re seeing customers look at natural light as a potential business asset, too. B.E.T.-ER MIX Concrete in Hudson, FL produces concrete and aggregate. It’s hard work, and the environment in which they do this work can wreak havoc on their business. After all, it rains on average 100 days a year in Florida.
Our Big Top Fabric Structures were an obvious solution. They protected operations from the elements, and kept workers out of the direct sun. But our structures’ also helped them use natural light. Specifically, our translucent fabrics allowed natural light to permeate covered spaces, but also provided enough light for B.E.T.-ER MIX to conduct their daily operations. Using our structures, B.E.T.-ER MIX is now able to give their employees a dry, well-lighted place to work, while gaining substantial energy cost savings in the process. It’s win-win.
What’s interesting about both B.E.T.-ER MIX. and Peckham is that the solution to their work environment challenges wasn’t to impose control through producing artificial light and temperature, but to find a solution that harnessed what was already available to them.
So much of our world revolves around the ability to flick a switch, adjust a thermostat, or seal a window or door. But as business and industry continue to grow, evolve and face new challenges to their work environments, simply pressing a button will not be enough, Solutions will have to be smart, holistic, and, arguably, natural to the environments in which we work.