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Do Cold, Window-Less Rooms Make You Irritable, Too?

Posted on February 2nd, 2018 by Mark Silverberg and Helen Sanders on

We have had the opportunity to escape the cold and snowy Midwest this week to bask in the sunny climes of Tucson, and attend the Insulating Glass Certification Council (IGCC) and Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) meetings. It’s great to see such large participation and support for these high-quality organizations, which continue to educate our industry and raise the bar in insulating glass durability and performance. Though the cold of northeast Ohio seems such a long way away, wherever we go, our comfort and well-being is impacted by the presence (or absence) of windows in our buildings – whether we are consciously aware of it or not.

The importance of the human impacts of daylight and views through windows, and their influence on thermal comfort, is underscored by the first results from the Well Living Lab. The Well Living Lab is a partnership between the Mayo Clinic and Delos Living (the founder of the International WELL Building Institute). The Well Living Lab’s first journal paper, published in Building and Environment, reports the impact of a range of simulated, indoor environmental quality (IEQ) conditions – thermal, acoustic, lighting, daylight and views – on satisfaction, health and well-being for occupants working in an open office environment. Six “scenes” were created in which electric lighting, availability of daylight and views, temperature and acoustics were varied. The results are extremely impactful for our industry and underscore the need for sufficient amounts of high-performance fenestration for human well-being.

In the Well Living Lab study, the most memorable (albeit dissatisfying) “scene” was the one in which the black-out shades covered the windows to block daylight and views, and the temperature set point was lowered to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Occupants reported that it was most difficult to work under these conditions because it was the most uncomfortable and, interestingly, they also found it to be distracting. They also reported increased irritability!