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Lighting Research Center
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mullar2@rpi.edu
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Troy, N.Y. -  7/31/2013

LRC Designs New Skylight to Scoop Up Daylight, Save Energy

Strategic Angled Glass Balances Daily and Seasonal Light-Level Fluctuations for Optimal Light

Light Scoops—click for larger imageThe Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently released a guide for designing light scoops—an innovative type of skylight designed by the LRC with funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Light scoops provide optimal levels of daylight throughout the changing seasons and daily fluctuations in weather by capturing and strategically redirecting daylight into buildings.

Many conventional horizontal skylights provide too much sun on days that are warm and sunny, and too little sun on days that are cold and dark. The LRC’s new light scoops design balances out these daily and seasonal fluctuations in light level and temperature by providing less light in summer and more light in winter, while accounting for the natural pattern of the sun as it travels across the sky. In overcast conditions, a light scoop receives light from the brightest part of the sky, known as the zenith. Light scoops are most appropriate for spaces where direct sun is desirable such as lobbies, cafeterias, and hallways. They work very well in locations that are frequently cloudy and overcast such as Seattle, Portland, Detroit, and Buffalo.   
 
Using light scoops and controls, electric lights can be turned off or dimmed when adequate daylight is available, thus saving energy and operating costs.Light scoops can also save heating and cooling energy.
 
Not only does this new design save energy and operating costs, but it provides occupants with a more pleasant environment. Light scoops provide “patches of sun” where occupants can enjoy the health benefits of sunlight. In 2012, 14 light scoops were installed on an expansion of the Welch Allyn corporate headquarters in Skaneateles, N.Y. Several months after the light scoops were installed, 48 occupants completed a survey with a very high rate of satisfaction—almost 90 percent “like” or “strongly like” the patches of sun in the atrium, with responses such as, “sometimes I like to take a mental break, sitting in the sun,” “I just love to have sun, especially with the way it used to be [before renovation],” and “it's very relaxing.” More details of the Welch Allyn installation and case study can be found in the Light Scoops design guide.
 
Light Scoops: A Design Guide demonstrates how to design light scoops to meet target light levels and includes a performance comparison of light scoops vs. conventional skylights. The guide is available for free download from the LRC website at http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/researchAreas/pdf/LightScoopsDesignGuide_Final.pdf
 

About NYSERDA
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975. For more information about NYSERDA, visit http://nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram.


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.”