Light and Darkness in the Built-Environment

This session explores the use of evidence-based architectural lighting to create built environments that support the health and well-being of those who live and work in the buildings we build.


Emerging science tells us that bright light in the morning and true darkness at night is important to our health and well-being. Co-incident with the advent of electric light about 120 years ago, the human species began moving indoors as part of a fundamental shift to an urban lifestyle. Indoor lighting is relatively dim, and darkness has all but disappeared in our 24/7 society. The result is an increased risk of disease, particularly for those living and working in extreme environments. Night shift workers, residents in long-term care and insomniacs develop cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes at an increased rate compared to other populations. We will present practical lighting solutions to improve circadian rhythms, behavioral outcomes, and orientation and wayfinding. We then tie the outcomes to the bottom line.  This course is presented through a partnership with AIA Iowa.

Learning objectives

  • Differentiate between the classic definition of light that affects perception, and a new concept of circadian light that affects human health
  • Explore the use of color, intensity and quality of light to improve outcomes
  • Identify the issues in using daylight and artificial light to address health requirements while addressing classic concerns including glare and sustainability
  • Gain an understanding of the vital role darkness plays in brain and body rest, and the effect on human health.
User rating:
Average: 4 (5 votes)
 $45  non-member
 $30  member
1.00 LU
  • RIBA


  • Michael David White


    Senior Lighting Designer | Schuler Shook

    Michael is an architectural lighting designer at Schuler Shook with extensive experience on a wide...