SDA and Human Centric Lighting From concept to creation

Human centric lighting is defined by LightingEurope as a type of lighting that can benefit the biological, emotional, health, or wellbeing of people. This is achieved by dimming the smart light source, most likely an LED, to mimic the levels of sunlight throughout the day.


So how do you we bring concepts of great lighting design into environments traditionally suited to lowest-bidder/fastest built environments like office spaces and healthcare environments? Here are some practical lighting design concepts paired with tools to employ when working toward human centric design.

Color Tuning

We know natural light shifts over the course of the day. We have enough science now to know that this naturally occurring phenomenon also aides in our natural circadian cycle. While the absolute best way to foster this rhythm is with the introduction of natural light into a space, that is not always possible. Tunable White Fixtures allow for a shift in the correlated color temperature of the fixture (CCT) to shift either in concert with the daily clock or in opposition for specific effects (think fostering sleep in patients or altertness for night shift workers).

Daylight Harvesting

Bringing in natural light is best way to foster healthy light in a working environment provided two things occur:

1. There is care afforded to glare control.

2. The electric lighting of the space dims in accordance with the infiltration of natural light.

On the first point appropriate window coating/shading is required.

On the second point, many energy codes across the country dictate the use of daylight harvesting within specific zones. This is necessary but not sufficient for making great daylight design. Instead all fixtures of a space should have at least the ability to be reactive to daylight infiltration.

Smarter Controls Strategies

Prescriptive controls mandates through energy codes are necessary to reduce lighting-related energy usage, but they are not enough to create human centric spaces. Providing more individual workspace control, better dynamic control over semi-private spaces like conference rooms and more intelligence around occupancy data are all ways to make controls work to not only further reduce energy use, but give occupants a better experience in the places they work.

Glare Control

As the concerns over energy codes tighten a lot of focus has been placed on lumens/watt as the primary metric for efficacy. While this has it’s place as a basic metric, without thought to glare control and visual comfort/acuity this doesn’t help create comfortable environments.

Too often we settle for lighting fixtures and form factors that don't deal with glare properly. This is why sample reviews, specification review and mockups are so important.

Luminous Surfaces Versus Direct Lighting

Ecosense Wall Graze
Tambient Lighting Solution - The Lighting Quotient

When thinking about ways to create beautiful lighting that reduces eye strain and improves visual acuity, we need to start thinking about creating luminous surfaces. Light falling on walls and ceilings creates a volume of space surrounding the occupant and makes the entire space feel more open and comfortable. It's a more natural way of creating a space.

How SDA Can Help

At SDA we represent 70 or so different manufacturers from the most basic to the most highly advanced fixtures. We are here to make it as easy as possible to design the best possible lighting scheme for your projects and clients.


We love doing presentations and providing samples.

Specification Assistance and Lighting Calculations

From simply photometric calculations to renders displaying intent.


Onsite or in your office, we're happy to facilitate scale mockups so there is no question how the lighting is going to look in the field.

Controls Specification

SDA represents Leviton, Douglas Lighting Controls, Echelon, and Encelium. We also represent manufacturers like Lumenpulse, Day-O-Lite and ALW, and Cree who can embed controls systems into their fixtures. SDA will provide occupancy sensor layouts, system specifications and pre-wire meetings to make sure that your next controls installation goes perfectly from spec to install and commissioning.

Bonus Material

In my copious spare time, I write SDA's World of Light blog. Where we keep up with industry news, events and product announcements. I also co-host the Lightcast Podcast over at AvNation.


Created with images by Pezibear - "mountains mountain peaks sky" • grongar - "Daylight skyline"

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