Studies Note Healing Through Daylight

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Exposure to daylight and window views within buildings is linked with decreases in recuperation times for hospitalized patients.

Building developers, architects, hospital and city planners, and interior designers take note: according to Dr. Asher Derman, building and design environmental consultant (Battery Park City, AOL-Time Warner), a small but important group of recent medical and health care related studies are beginning to link exposure to daylight and window views within buildings with decreases in recuperation times for hospitalized patients.

Previously, in somewhat parallel studies dealing with the treatment of some forms of depression identified as Seasonal Affective Disorder, a direct connection was established between morning light therapy and the reduction of symptoms.

These new studies extend the healing impact that daylight/sunshine and views have on specific physical conditions. The reasons for these effects are still conjectural. Some explanations stress the role of serotonin, the body’s circadian rhythm response to light, and possibly to the role of Vitamin D., which is formed naturally in the body as a result of the UV rays in sunlight.

In another correlation study, demographic and health data were studied relative to select cancer deaths. Those who lived in geographic areas with higher amounts of seasonal sunlight tended to die less frequently of those cancers then those in geographic areas with lesser amounts of daylight exposure.

These studies taken together begin to reinforce the importance that day lighting interior spaces has, not only in reducing the need for electric power and lighting, but in the role daylight has in maintaining work productivity and the healing properties of medical facilities.

Dr. Derman is a consultant to developers, architects, and engineers in the design of high performance, sustainable building, and has worked as the environmental consultant on projects such as AOL Time Warner on Columbus Circle, Scholastic Inc. Manhattan headquarters, and Conde Nast Publishing in shaping their head offices at Four Times Square. He is one of the authors of the Battery Park City Environmental Residential Guidelines-the largest green residential complex in the world. He is a founding member and current board member of the USGreen Building Council/NY Chapter.

Dr. Derman's book of photographs, "The Green Man in New York City, and other foliate heads," is a collection featuring 'Green'-oriented architectural ornaments from late 19th century buildings in Manhattan characterized by sculpted heads surrounded by foliage.

Sculptural images of Green Men began appearing in Western architecture as early as the First Century AD and were widely used in Romanesque and Gothic churches. In their most ancient manifestation, the Green Man originated in mythology as a pagan forest archetype embodying growth, decay, and resurrection/rebirth. Today they are a consistent reminder of the power of our connection with nature and what we now call the environment.

These buildings and their 'in your face' connectedness to nature, are disappearing from our landscape.

To view images and for further information on "The Green Man in New York City” visit


Jacqueline Herships


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