We speak with Jordi Rocasalbas, Director of Innovation at LEDS C4

Jordi Rocasalbas talks to us about the evolution in work methods and office spaces

We are living in a unique situation right now. How are you coping?
As you rightly say, we are living in a unique situation and we are coping as well as we can. I hope this health and economic crisis will have a major positive impact on us and will enable us to change global habits that help to improve the well-being of everybody and, above all, the well-being of the planet.

Have you been working in lighting for long?
Yes, all my working life. I’m very lucky as my father worked in the sector and he suggested I did my final degree project on lighting. Since then, my passion for lighting has been growing and growing.

Do you think there have been many technological changes in the sector?
Yes, many, especially in the last 40 years, which have been great to give momentum to the sector. I, personally, have lived at a time when there have been many changes in light sources, and at this moment, control electronics and connectivity associated with data are evolving rapidly. I call it the Internet of lighting.

Which would you say was one of the most topical segments?
I think there are several segments undergoing profound changes, but the one closer to home is lighting in work spaces. Unfortunately, we are living in an era of lockdown in which we have to spend many hours working indoors, frequently in spaces poorly equipped for this purpose. Recently, the LRC (Lighting Research Center) published a series of very useful recommendations to adapt our work spaces. It is worthwhile following these guidelines both at home and in our usual workplaces.

Do you think the situation we are currently living will change the way of lighting offices?
I think before COVID-19, an important change in the way of organising and lighting offices was under way. The switch from individual offices to open, collective workspaces, where the main goal is to encourage collaboration, creativity and innovation, has been key and has triggered a number of changes in the way offices are lit. A review of the CTE building code and the UNE EN 12464-1 standards is in the pipeline, and it will probably be related to these changes.

In your opinion, how do you think an office should be lit?
A good office should have several kinds of spaces dedicated to meeting different needs. In my opinion, there should be open-plan areas to encourage team work, but also smaller, closed-in areas where people can concentrate. There need to be areas set up for formal meetings and also areas adapted to more informal activities. I think common areas are very important and all details should be taken care of, from the corridors to the café areas—all these spaces should be in harmony, with adequate lighting that follows established standards, but at the same time, maintains an aesthetic consistency with the spaces in question.

What kind of offices do we have and how have they evolved?
There have been many different changes between the traditional offices of the 1950s and those we can find in the digital era. New corporate cultures have changed our ways of working and, therefore, how we conceptualise office space.

This new working pattern responds to the challenges that companies face today; they are experiencing exponential evolution and continuous improvements in their products' and services' competitiveness.

The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and artificial intelligence opens a new paradigm in which organisations and workers must adapt to remain creative, competitive and efficient.

What is the best lighting solution for an office?
There isn’t just one solution, there are many. Every office is a new challenge, but we could say there is a common denominator they all share—complying with current standards (CTE, UNE-EN 12464-1 UNE-EN 1838) and, in particular, certain certifications such as WELL, BREEAM, LEED.

The perfect solution would be one that allows for flexibility and dynamism in lighting, providing the exact light needed in every work area and environment, at the right moment and, above all, prioritising the well-being of the people who use these spaces.

What are the advantages of good lighting?

  • It enables us to create a comfortable, tailor-made setting that meets spatial, functional, emotional and biological demands.
  • Light is a tool for communication and interaction, improving users' perception of their environment.
  • It helps to improve well-being by restoring natural biorhythms, which directly affect people's satisfaction, comfort and happiness.
  • And, of course, it enables us to reduce energy consumption through intelligent lighting, which can be controlled via time schedules, presence and luminous sensors that make better use of natural light to prevent wastage of available resources. 

It is said that lighting is taking on a new dimension. What do you think about that?
We are fortunate, once again. As a result of recent scientific breakthroughs, light doesn’t need to be merely functional, just so we can see each other, but it can also synchronise our biorhythms. Therefore, light doesn’t only benefit us in functional, recreational and cultural ways, but it can also be beneficial for people and help them to feel better, rest properly or increase their concentration, and that’s fantastic.

What does intelligent lighting mean to you and how does it benefit people?
Intelligent lighting is the capacity a lighting project has to self-manage and offer useful data to be able to take decisions. It’s another technological development, but in this case, it doesn’t affect the light source but the whole ecosystem.

From my point of view, the LED technology maturing process and the convergence of digitalisation, the Internet of things and the advance of connectivity and control technologies have been decisive. One of the key advantages of the sector with regard to other sectors that incorporate these technologies is that there are light sources wherever there are people and at the same time, these sources are electrified.

Therefore, lighting is very granular and offers a strategic point to incorporate smart devices.  As for the advantages, they are very clear. I will divide them into three large blocks: advantages for people, advantages for buildings and, lastly, for businesses.

For people, tailor-made lighting enables us to create a comfortable setting that adjusts to spatial, functional, emotional and biological requirements. For buildings, the energy savings and management and optimisation of spaces, and finally for the companies to connect and improve the customer’s experience.

Will lighting become a source of information?
We are heading towards a technological world based on data. The saying goes, who has the data has the power, but a reflection I make is that not only the ones who have the data, but those who can interpret it logically and capitalise on it. In our sector, the data we are starting to gather is related to the behaviour of elements within a project. This data, when correctly processed and interpreted, informs us of how a space is being used and lit, which enables us to improve and correct the lighting and the distribution of the space in the future with the aim of improving efficiency, productivity, enjoyment and sales, or whatever we need to strengthen.

Does light have any limits?  What does it have in store for us?
In the past, we only used light to illuminate, but there are more and more options available and it helps us in many aspects of life we previously could never have imagined. 

I personally think that gradually, the true scope of lighting will be recognised and it will reach all fields.

Nowadays, the properties of light and the benefits of its spectrum in our biorhythms has been recognised. Likewise, due to the times we are living in, much is said of the properties of short-wavelength UV-C to disinfect certain bacteria and even for the possible elimination of Covid-19. So, gradually these properties will help us better explain our profession and the benefits it can offer to all areas of society.

The future is very uncertain and even more so with what has happened recently. Nobody could have imagined a few months ago that we would be living a situation like this one; nevertheless, I believe lighting will not stop growing, in a positive way, improving the well-being of people. Progress and breakthroughs regarding the benefits of lighting will continue to be made, while the Internet of lighting will see a strong growth, and connected lighting will end up being controlled by artificial intelligence.