Increasing sophistication of lighting control is another trend worth watching, experts agree. Today's lighting control systems vary greatly in design — from traditional wired systems to cutting-edge wireless systems that can be connected to building automation systems for remote operation. This movement includes a trend to mood-setting or changing lighting levels in hospital rooms. In some cases, the lighting above a patient's bed can be designed to look like the sky, yet function as interior illumination.
"Hospitals are focused on patient care and the patient experience, and lighting can be fine-tuned based on these needs, including higher light levels for doctors and nurses versus lighting at warmer, comfort levels for patients," says Gregg Ryberg, director, health care sales, Cree Lighting, Durham, N.C. "Multifunctional lighting, using the same fixture to achieve various light levels, is beneficial for patients, as they can control light output as needed."
The latest systems enable patients to control their lights and window shades from the hospital bed. "Leading-edge technology integrates lighting and shading controls into the central IT system, which feeds information to and from the patient room," says Tom Myers, director, commercial real estate solutions, Lutron Electronics Co., Coopersburg, Pa. "Patients can, for instance, use their television remote to control their lights and shades, which improves comfort without relying on hospital staff."
Many hospitals are adopting designs that maximize the amount and quality of daylight that enters their facilities, also called daylight harvesting. "This is a great first step, but the addition of automatic day-lighting controls can reduce energy consumption and optimize the quality of light in the spaces where it is applied," Myers adds. In fact, day-lighting controls now available can save 20 to 60 percent in lighting costs.
There has been much discussion of the value of daylight in the patient experience, according to Lauren MacLeod, IALD, LEED AP, associate principal, senior lighting designer, Candela Lighting, Lynnwood, Wash. "Evidence-based design indicates that patients actually heal faster in day-lit areas with a visual connection to the world outside. We're doing more studies on how daylight enters a room, including defining elements of visual glare and comfort," she notes.
A newer consideration is the idea of "dialing up color temperature" — adjusting the color temperature of the lights to mirror the sun's color temperature as it changes throughout the day. This concept can be used to improve the degree of staff alertness and performance, as well as patient comfort and mood.