Windows Can Benefit Our Health –the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Can Make an Impact

From buying a house, renting an apartment, visiting a university or staying in a new city – there is always an emphasis on the view. It’s obvious that one would prefer a stay in a room with a view and plenty of daylight as opposed to one that is simply facing another building – but why? Why are people so drawn to views and how can views make an impact on our well-being?

During the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) 2021 Virtual Summer Conference, taking place from June 21-24, Lisa Heschong, a fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), shared notable pieces from her own research about how lives are enriched by the presence of natural daylight and window views within buildings.

Heschong has participated in studies that examine the impact windows and daylight have on elementary school students and those who work in call centers and having access to a view was the most consistent statistically positive factor on their performance.

She also examined products that have been advertised by several companies that promote simulated daylight with different lighting, furniture or even a webcam. But none of those can compete with the real thing.

“I see the level of venture capital investment that is going into these kinds of integrated environment product lines. So I think there’s a real threat. Pretty still far on the horizon but enough to pay attention to, that our desire for healthy environments is being translated into a digital simulation,” she said.

Now there is a moment where the glazing industry has “the opportunity to step forward and claim the ground that we provide reality. We’re providing the real thing, not the simulated thing.”

Humans are mostly visual creatures, says Heschong. Cognitive scientists say that 80 to 90% of human brain capacity is devoted to visual processing. It’s different for dogs, that are mostly partial to smells, and bats, which are mostly partial to sound and hearing. Seeing is how we, as humans, construct our understanding of our world in our reality, says Heschong.

A notable part of her discussion was the mention of human life mainly taking place indoors. And if people are now spending most of their time indoors, it should be a healthy place to be.

“We need healthy buildings, we need buildings that support our physiological needs, and this is being recognized more and more by various green building codes and voluntary standards… Another study of American office workers found that only one-third of office workers said they had no access to any view during their workday, even during breaks. So this is sort of what we’re up against.”

Heschong argues that there are very good reasons why great architecture celebrates views. The glass and glazing industry is in the best position to offer healthy places for people to live, work and learn. Daylight and exposure to the environment shouldn’t rely on simulated and digital means – people thrive in reality.

The FGIA 2021 Virtual Summer Conference continues through June 24. Stay tuned to USGNN for the latest updates.

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