What the new EN 12464-1 standard means for lighting companies, businesses and workers

As lighting experts, it’s vital that we’re always on top of the latest industry guidelines and regulations. A new EN 12464-1 standard has recently been introduced, which will have a significant bearing on how lighting systems are designed for working environments moving forward.

For nearly 20 years, EU member countries have worked to a common standard for lighting interior workplaces. Earlier this year, the new European version was introduced and, among other changes, it takes a much more granular approach to locations and the tasks being performed by the workers.

So, what has changed?

This new standard covers everything from offices to retail outlets and from restaurants to libraries. Our blog explains what it means for lighting companies like ourselves, the companies we work for and the employees who work for them.

For anyone who doesn’t have the time to read the whole blog, here are the main changes summed up in a single paragraph: Most importantly of all, the structure of the standard has been changed to add more detail to the tables, putting more emphasis on the varying needs of different end-users working in different environments. The tables now also include requirements for walls, ceilings and cylindrical illuminances. Other additions include more advice on applying the requirements when designing lighting solutions and new information that clarifies glare requirements, as well as the impact of visual and non-image forming effects of light.

New measuring criteria

For those of you still with us (and we’re glad that includes you), let’s take a look at what’s changed in a little more detail.

Reasonable quality of lighting has been required for many years to enable workers to perform tasks efficiently. However, the new standard specifies the minimum lighting requirements of individual working areas rather than the room as a whole. It takes into account three different measurements: lux values, the Unified Glare Rating (UGR) and colour rendering.

Lux (lx) is the standard unit of measuring the level of light intensity. The UGR quantifies the extent that luminaires and light sources can cause discomfort. The colour rendering index (CRI) measures how colours look when illuminated by a luminaire in comparison to natural sunlight. Daylight has a CRI of around 75, and a minimum colour display of more than 80 now applies throughout the workplace.

As well as separate working spaces having their own individual lighting requirements, there are also specifications for general areas such as company car parks.

To give you a better idea of the differences involved, the table below details the required measurements of a selection of areas in the working environment.


Area Lux UGR
Office  500 19
Technical drawings  750 16
Footpaths  100 28
Average industrial work  300 25
Refined industrial work  500 22
Stairs and escalators  150 25


Originally, the standard specified requirements for computer displays and the areas around them. However, taking into account new learnings on ambient areas, the standard was extended to include requirements for ceiling, wall and cylindrical lighting.

Getting into the detail

While we won’t attempt to cover all the elements of the new standard in this blog, it’s well worth taking a closer look at some of the requirements.

The collection of tables specifies requirements for illuminance for a variety of tasks in a range of working environments including offices, schools, healthcare facilities and industrial premises. The standard requires 500 lx illuminance for the typical office workplace. It specifies varying illuminances for each specific task and type of room, from 30 lx–100 lx. For walls, this is usually 50 lx–150 lx.

With indirect lighting, the average luminance on the ceiling should remain at less than 500 cd/m². However, in specific areas, a maximum luminance of 1500 cd/m2 is allowed. The gradient should not be so steep that it makes the lighting in the ceiling distracting to those working in the room. At the same time, luminance uniformity (Lmin/Lavg) should not exceed 1:10.

Everyone benefits from high-quality lighting

We’d like to emphasise that we’re fully behind the increasing demands of the new standard, but it’s our inclination to try and push things even further. The standard specifies minimum requirements but, at Phi, we believe in providing more light than the regulation demands to make life easier for workers and, in turn, more productive for the business.

It’s also important to say that this isn’t just about working efficiencies. There is a rapidly growing body of evidence that a good level of lighting in the workplace has health and wellbeing benefits for employees. Get the quality of lighting right and it would be true to say that everyone benefits.

If you would like to find out more about our lighting solutions, please get in touch with one of our friendly experts today.