It is perhaps not the lighting that customers notice first when they enter the brand new, ultra-modern premises of SpareBank 1 Nord-Norge (SNN) in the centre of Mo I Rana in Northern Norway. But lighting plays a crucial role in the building. The bank has elected to invest in Human Centric Lighting, artificial lighting that mimics daylight in intensity and colour temperature. This type of lighting can promote better Circadian rhythm, improve concentration, prevent sleeping disorders and provide an enhanced sense of wellbeing.
Glamox has supplied luminaires and the light management system, while Haaland, who is also a general contractor, was responsible for the installation. Glamox understands that Sparebank1 Nord-Norge is the first bank in Norway, and one of the first banks in Europe, that has invested in this type of lighting.
Lighting up the future
"We are convinced this is the lighting of the future. Therefore we are now rolling out full-scale systems to several of our finance centres, which we are in the process of building. In addition to Mo i Rana we are also investing in Finnsnes, Alta, Bodø and our head office in Tromsø," said Øystein Eikrem, head of SNN's technical section.
Research on how light affects people biologically has been ongoing for many decades. However, in 2002 researchers made a major breakthrough when they discovered ganglion cells in the eye's retina. The cells react to the blue wavelengths in the light, and send signals to the brain, which ensures that the biological clock in the body keeps in step with the Circadian rhythm.
But when the light disappears, so too do the signals to the eye. Particularly in northern regions, many find the conditions in winter months challenging, due to the lack of daylight for long periods. Daylight doesn't just affect the sleeping cycle. Signals from the ganglion cells in the eye regulate hormone production, which affect among other things energy levels, awareness and wellbeing.
Many positive effects
Research shows that correct lighting can counteract sleeping disorders, and also prompt a number of positive effects. "Several research reports, including from the Netherlands and Norway, reveal positive results from use of HCL in office environments and schools respectively. This is new and – to say the least - exciting. If HCL can result in enhanced wellbeing, and a decline in sick leave, then it's a win-win situation for everyone," stressed Eikrem.
"Our most important resources are the people who work in the bank. Then we must organise it so that they have the best conditions. Not just inviting, pleasant work environments, but we must also implement the best technological arrangements for them that includes future oriented lighting. It also promotes a more enjoyable experience for those visiting the bank," said Eikrem.
Office landscapes are ideal for Human Centric Lighting solutions. These solutions can provide employees with more energy and motivation. For example, a cold white light with high intensity at the start of the day can ensure synchronisation of the biological clock. For countries that have little daylight in the winter months, "tuneable white” fittings can help towards reducing Polar night depressions and other seasonal-dependent disorders. The same lighting settings can also produce short-term effects on concentration and awareness, if used correctly.
"Between 5-10 percent of the population struggle with Polar night depression, and this leads to dejected humour, low level of energy, diminished motivation and constant fatigue. These annoyances can be reduced with the right lighting, and therefore HCL lighting is even more important for us who live in a country with a long winter," said Eikrem.
At SpareBank1 Nord-Norge's new premises in Mo i Rana, the lighting system in the team rooms for the 36 employees are preset according to a fixed day cycle. In the morning when the staff arrive at work, the lighting is warm white and the lighting strength is around 400-500 lux. After a while the lighting shifts to cold white and lighting intensity is increased to 800 lux, before it is lowered again, and turning warmer towards lunchtime. After lunch the blue-white tones increase again, before they decline towards the end of the day, and the warm white light becomes more prominent. In the meeting and quiet rooms it is possible to adjust the light in three categories – normal lighting (4000 kelvin, 500-lux), calm lighting (3000 kelvin, 500-lux) and focus lighting (6000 kelvin, 800 lux), as required.
Inspiring pilot project
Espen Ytterstad, sales engineer at Glamox describes the HCL investment in SpareBank 1 Nord-Norge as an exciting pilot project in which he has participated.
"This is the first time we have installed HCL in a bank, and this will be rolled out in many of the bank's locations. Therefore in this contect it is a pilot project for us and the bank. The bank is sporty in daring to invest in creating the ultimate in a working environment, and that their people really enjoy their job," said Ytterstad.
Ytterstad is also quick to praise the co-operation with Haaland. "As well as the installation, Haaland has collaborated with us on programming of the fittings. They have been great to work with and the co-operation has worked very smoothly," he said.
"It's vital for us that we have a participant that is serious, and has the appropriate experience. That is why the nod was given to Glamox. We are certainly looking forward now to hear what our staff think. We are waiting in anticipation to see how much job satisfaction improves and how much sick leave declines, as we believe it will," said Øystein Eikrem, head of SNN's technical department.
Bank Director Tor Magne Aanonli at SNN's branch in Mo I Rana is elated over the investment made in lighting and can't wait to see what effects it has in the future.
"We've only just moved in, and can see we have plenty of light and good lighting. Even though It is still light outside, we can't wait to see what it will be like when the days start to darken," said Aanonli.