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Troy, N.Y. -  6/16/2010

ASSIST recommendation provides new metrics for specifying color properties in retail lighting

 

Lighting plays an important role in supporting retail operations, from attracting customers, to influencing product appearance, to corporate branding. A recent survey of lighting designers and specifiers by the National Lighting Product Information Program showed that for retail applications, light source color properties are considered more important than any other light source criterion, including energy efficiency. 
 
To define light source color properties, the lighting industry predominantly relies on two metrics, correlated color temperature (CCT), commonly used as an indication of the apparent “warmth” or “coolness” of the light emitted by a source, and color rendering index (CRI), an indication of the light source’s ability to make illuminated objects appear natural. 
 
However, these two metrics, developed in the last century, are facing increased challenges and criticisms as new types of light sources, particularly light-emitting diodes (LEDs), become more prevalent in the market.
 
In order to help retail lighting designers better understand CCT and CRI and choose the best lighting product for specific retail applications, the Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies (ASSIST) has published a new volume in its ASSIST recommends series. The first issue, “Guide to Light and Color in Retail Merchandising,” provides a background on CCT and CRI, including their advantages and drawbacks, and discusses how they may be augmented for better use in retail merchandising. The second issue, “Recommendations for Specifying Color Properties of Light Sources for Retail Merchandising,” recommends two-metric approaches for specifying light sources to achieve desired color appearance of the illumination as well as good color rendering in retail applications.
 
For example, in order to meet the expectations for good color rendering in retail applications, ASSIST advises using the well-established CRI along with another metric called gamut area index (GAI). GAI represents the relative separation of object colors illuminated by a light source; the greater the GAI, the greater the apparent saturation or vividness of the object colors, according to Mark Rea, Ph.D., director of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center and co-author of the publication.
 
“Broadly speaking, CRI is a measure of how ‘natural’ an object appears, and GAI is a measure of how ‘vivid’ the colors appear,” said Rea. “LRC experiments show that light sources which balance both CRI and GAI are generally preferred over ones that have only high CRI or only high GAI.”
 
Practical, step-by-step methods are included in the publication for the two-metric color rendering approach described here, as well as a two-metric approach for achieving consistent results in desired color appearance of the illumination.
 
“The rationale and new methods provided in this ASSIST volume should lead to light source specification that most closely represents a designer’s intentions,” said Rea.
 
The LRC recently held the first in what will be a series of roundtable discussions, including color-rendering mock-ups and experiments, with practicing lighting designers and specifiers to introduce the two-metric approach to color rendering and obtain feedback. The first session was recently held with a group of high-end retail lighting designers who agreed that this new approach was a step forward over the reliance on CRI alone and would be a useful tool when trying to narrow down light source options from a large selection of products.  
 
The two new ASSIST recommends are available for free download from the ASSIST web site: www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/solidstate/assist/recommends/lightcolor.asp.
 
The ASSIST volume was co-authored by LRC research scientist Jean Paul Freyssinier.
 
About ASSIST
ASSIST is a collaboration between researchers, manufacturers, and government organizations. Its goal is to identify and reduce major technical hurdles currently facing solid-state lighting. The Lighting Research Center conducts research, demonstration, and educational activities on behalf of ASSIST. ASSIST is sponsored by Acuity Brands Lighting; Bridgelux; China Solid State Lighting Alliance; Cree; Everlight Electronics Co., Ltd.; Federal Aviation Administration; GE Lumination; ITRI, Industrial Technology Research Institute; LG Innotek; Lighting Science Group; Lite-On; NeoPac Lighting; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); OSRAM SYLVANIA/OSRAM Opto Semiconductors; Permlight; Philips; Sharp Laboratories of America; Seoul Semiconductor; United States Environmental Protection Agency; WAC Lighting.
 
About ASSIST recommends
ASSIST has developed a publication program called ASSIST recommends to provide a set of formal recommendations to the LED and lighting communities about issues important for the reliable performance of LED lighting and its comparison to other light source technologies. The publications include recommendations for LED life definition, testing and measurement, best practice guides for different lighting applications, and recommendations for selecting LED lighting.

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC has been pioneering research in solid-state lighting, light and health, transportation lighting and safety, and energy efficiency for nearly 30 years. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. LRC researchers conduct independent, third-party testing of lighting products in the LRC's state of the art photometric laboratories, the only university lighting laboratories accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP Lab Code: 200480-0). In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. With 35 full-time faculty and staff, 15 graduate students, and a 30,000 sq. ft. laboratory space, the LRC is the largest university-based lighting research and education organization in the world.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering; the sciences; information technology and web sciences; architecture; management; and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Rensselaer faculty advance research in a wide range of fields, with an emphasis on biotechnology, nanotechnology, computational science and engineering, data science, and the media arts and technology. The Institute has an established record of success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, fulfilling its founding mission of applying science “to the common purposes of life.”