Human Centric Lighting (HCL), focuses on the well-being of humans from our early learning years through our active years and later into our silver days but how close is Europe in updating regulations so that the concept of HCL is considered at the early stages of designing a project rather than an afterthought.

How does it work? Well the idea behind HCL is to mimic the effects that natural light has on the human body. Human behaviour is driven by our biological clocks and the master biological clock controls our circadian rhythms. Our circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioural changes which are responsive primarily to light and darkness within any living organisms’ environment usually occurring within a 24hr cycle. Circadian rhythms usually occur naturally within the body, however they are effected from cues which research has proven to be mainly light. They can have abnormal effects on health and normal body functions such as sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, obesity & SAD (seasonal affect disorder). The more research carried out into Circadian rhythms and how they affect human health lays a foundation for the idea of Human Centric Lighting to develop in a way which will benefit and enhance human health, productivity and well-being.

Fig 1: National Institute of General Medical Science

The lighting industry has seen significant change over the last decade with the development of technology in LEDs, it is moving so fast and no sooner has the latest technology hit the market place it has become old news with the next generation in close pursuit. The trend of energy efficiency is still high on the list but as it matures the focus has moved on to efficiency & sustainability for the future as we see in the many articles on smart living and smart cities. Lighting has always had an emphasis on attempting to bring a better quality of life to all humans and it is coming full circle again with the advancement of light for well being.

Fig 2: Lighting Europe hopes that all regulatory routes, like its roadmap, lead to human centric lighting.

Lighting Europe & the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) have jointly issued a paper in an attempt to bring a clearer understating to what is HCL and what is not. Jan Dennerman the Lighting Europe president calls for a ”paradigm shift in thinking” from everyone, including manufacturers, regulators, and users when considering Human Centric Lighting for the future. The benefits for society as a whole have been widely reported especially in sectors such as health care but the move forward in HCL by Lighting Europe is a step by step approach as the science behind HCL is still evolving and requires further research and case studies to support the percieved benefits. A thorough understanding of circadian rhythms is really required in order to promote the benefits of HCL.

To read more on this area please follow the below links:

European lighting regulations could help usher in human-centric lighting by:
Mark Halper, published March 8th 2017, LEDs Magazine

Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet
National Institute of General Medical Science, published April 06 2016