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Beyond Fluorescent Lighting: The LED Light Bulb for Architectural Lighting Design

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © Ersil | Dreamstime

As lighting technology continues to develop, architectural designers will be able to move beyond fluorescent lighting – toward the LED Light BulbArchitectural lighting design is benefiting from awareness about energy consumption and health benefits of past, current and new lighting technologies. It’s about time that lighting undergo the next step in the revolution that can make lighting integration more cost effective, energy efficient and health conscious.

We are at the advent of a better lighting solution as LEDs gain more and more popularity. As such technology comes down in price this more optimized solution will contribute to better architectural designs. The predecessor to the LED is fluorescent lighting – known for its problematic side effects as described in the following:

[Fluorescent lights] use electricity to excite mercury vapor. The lights can flicker, which could set off epileptic fits, and badly made ones might leak ultraviolet radiation, and may thus pose a cancer risk. There are also concerns about the disposal of the toxic mercury vapor. (1)

Thankfully, a renewed lighting technology is on the forefront – the LED light bulb. Such technology is much safer and healthier as “these can be tuned to produce light that is similar to natural daylight but with virtually no ultraviolet or heat”. (1) The LED light bulb not only cancels out negative risks as emitted by the fluorescent bulb, but also provides positive health benefits for occupants when experienced indoors.

Because LEDs can be tuned to produce light similar to natural daylight; there is less negative impact upon circadian rhythms as experienced by occupants. This is of prime importance for occupants during winter months, or for those spending a great deal of time indoors. Light quality is key for keeping an occupant’s “body clock” in check; thus, it is architectural lighting design that can positively impact interconnected occupant moods.

I am optimistic that fluorescent lighting is fading out. As the LED light bulb continues to be refined, it is my hope that architecture will take one giant step toward healthier and more efficient designs for occupants. Advancements involving architectural lighting design are important for the evolution of the architectural industry – such technological and design improvements ultimately contribute to architecture that is better tuned and more humane.


(1) A Brilliant New Approach. Science & Technology. Cambridge, England. March 19, 2009.




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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

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AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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