Industrial tents offer a lot of advantages over steel frame and traditional construction, but is one of them increased productivity?
Pacific Gas & Electric Company once did a study1 on the effects of daylight on human performance. They studied a large retail chain with over 100 locations, two thirds of which had skylighting. Analyzing gross sales per store, they found that the stores lit with natural light had an average of 40% more sales.
The scientists performing the study speculated that one reason for increased sales was the positive effect of daylight on employee morale. As we all know, higher morale leads to higher productivity levels – something every business owner can appreciate.
Guess What Type of Structure Allows for Tons of Natural Light?
Tensioned fabric structures (TFS) can allow for natural light to flood the interior space of the building. The polyester fabric used in the roof and walls comes with the option to be translucent or opaque, or with panels of actual skylights.
With those options, interior lighting in industrial tents becomes the primary source of light during the day. This translates into significant savings in utility bills as a result of a decreased need for electric lighting.
But there are other benefits, one of which may be increased productivity. Here’s why.
Daylight is a “Natural Upper”
As part of the same PG&E study2 mentioned above, a middle school with natural lighting was also examined.
In the study, teachers reported that their students behaved better than students in their former schools, which didn’t use daylight in the classrooms. They also attributed better student performance to the use of daylight as the principle means (and usually the only means) of lighting in the classrooms.
One teacher believed the daylight was a “natural upper” for the students. Of course this is anecdotal evidence, but it does correlate with improved performance of those students in the school that used natural light.
Now, this school uses its progressive daylighting design as a recruiting factor when hiring new teachers.
Our Circadian Systems Prefer Natural Light
We may be able to satisfy the requirements for seeing with artificial light, but it does not do us much good in other departments. Consider the circadian patterns in our bodies, which make us tired at night and wakeful in the morning.
Depriving the brain of natural light can wreak havoc with the circadian rhythm, causing all sorts of health issues. Endless studies on night shift workers have clearly shown the negative side effects of working at night and sleeping during the day, all but eliminating exposure to daylight. Health effects become productivity issues, too.
Electric light can actually lead to a mild form of sensory deprivation, a sure-fire method of decreasing productivity. Turns out that, just like brain needs variety to avoid boredom, it also needs variable light in order to rest the brain and the eyes.
This is according to a 1971 study³ cited often at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which studies the relationship between environmentally conscious buildings (i.e. with lots of natural light) and human biology.
Visual Discomfort Caused by Eyestrain Subtracts from Productivity
Eyestrain can result from improper artificial lighting, or flickering lights, even when the lights do not appear to be flickering.
One study4 found that office workers suffering from eye strain participated in a number of productivity-reducing activities to relieve their discomfort:
- taking walks around the work area
- complaining to their co-workers
- going to get a drink
A Few More Benefits of Daylighting That May Increase Productivity
To cap this all off, we have numerous studies that show natural light to have a positive effect on health5 – here are a few more reasons workers who work in industrial tents may have increased productivity:
- Daylight Allows Workers to See Color Better3
- Industrial tents with translucent panels and roof reduce shadowing, which often occurs with artificial light.
The benefits of natural lighting may seem obvious. After all, common sense tells us that natural light is somehow “nicer”, more pleasant than the harsh, unchanging light one gets from electric lights.
Most architects do not, however, work daylighting solutions into warehouse design or the design of other industrial buildings, for that matter. It is simply by nature of design that industrial tents allow for daylight to flood into the interior space.
They use tensioned fabric, and the fabric happens to come in a translucent variation that makes for a beautiful, naturally-lit interior space. Now it appears science is telling us that our workers may just be more productive, too.
- Skylighting and Retail Sales.Daylighting Initiative. Retrieved 6/27/2016 from https://www.pge.com/includes/docs/pdfs/shared/edusafety/training/pec/daylight/RetailCondensed820.pdf
- Daylight Dividends Case Study. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Retrieved 6/27/2016 from https://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/daylighting/pdf/SmithCaseStudyFinal.pdf
- Daylight Dividends. Daylighting Resources – Health. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Retrieved 6/27/2016 from http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/daylighting/dr_health.asp
- Heerwagen et al. (1992) Post-Occupancy Evaluation of Energy Edge Buildings. College of Architecture & Urban Planning. University of Washington, Seattle
- Natural Light in Office Boosts Health.Science Daily. Retrieved 6/27/2016 from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140808124010.htm