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Let there be light

By Stephanie Ellrott, head of venues at RIBA Venues, London We’ve all been subjected to that awful conference nightmare when we are stuck in a dark room with only PowerPoint and coffee to keep us awake. Eight hours in this dark room, with a small break for lunch and by the end of the day we feel zapped of energy, and usually creativity, for the darkness has made us want to hibernate. Working at a venue that has natural daylight in all of our meeting rooms, it got me thinking about the importance of natural daylight for successful meetings. Surely we want our delegates going home from an event feeling inspired and ready for new challenges, not tired and ready for bed. Did you know our bodies need a good quantity of light at the right intensity and at the right time of day to act as cues for our internal body clock? Light in the morning helps us wake up and feel alert and energised, while dimmer light at night cues us to go to sleep and stay asleep. Light is critical for our health and wellbeing. Ensuring that we receive adequate light levels at the appropriate time of day benefits our alertness, mood, productivity, sleep patterns and many aspects of our physiology. A recent study from Northwestern Medicine at the University of Illinois in the US found office workers with more light exposure during the day had longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, took part in more physical activity and had a better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure during the daytime. As venues it is our duty to ensure delegates have the best event experience, letting light into the room can make a huge difference. So, conference organisers, when you are sourcing the next venue for your event, ask yourself If you would feel comfortable sitting in the room for eight hours with only coffee and PowerPoint to keep you awake. Never underestimate the power of a good view through a window for stimulating the brain and while heavy lighting is no substitute for natural lighting, If your room doesn’t have any windows does it have sufficient lighting to keep your delegates alert? Let there be light.