Office Lighting Standards of the IES

Written by clare archer
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Office Lighting Standards of the IES
Flourescent lights are standard in most office buildings. (OFFICE LIGHT image by Foophotos from

IES, or the Illuminated Engineering Society, publishes standards for office lighting. These national guidelines stipulate lighting and illumination requirements for business owners and contractors. Illumination refers to the strength and quality of the light emitted from light fixtures. The standards from IES address the use of lighting in the workplace from boosting employee productivity to ergonomics.

Illumination Levels

The IES measures light in foot candles, or "lux," which translates in scientific terms to one lumen per square foot. Full daylight is characterised as approximately 10,752 lux, while an overcast day measures only 1,075. Lux are measured in terms of the amount of illumination, or light, covered per square foot. Recommended lux for the workplace varies by field. A classroom environment has a recommended lux standard of 250. Workers who do detailed drawing work should have lighting illumination at 1,500 to 2,000 lux. Specialised visual tasks can require upward of 10,000 lux depending on the profession.

Leveraging Daylight

The IES recommends employers leverage available daylight to cut down on energy costs while improving lighting for workers. Sunlight provides a higher lux level than indirect lighting and is more cost efficient. Glazing windows is one approach the IES recommends to prevent glare while still allowing daylight into the office. Placement of offices, such as east facing or west facing, should also be considered carefully to take advantage of sunlight.

Indirect Lighting

Providing the proper levels of illumination to workers prevents safety hazards and increases overall productivity. The IES recommends use of indirect lighting at consecutive intervals. Measurements should be obtained to ensure workers have the recommended light levels. The use of task lights is recommended for certain areas. Employers must consider the nature of the work an employee is doing when establishing an illumination target. Greater density of lighting fixtures should be used in offices where detail-oriented work is performed.

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