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Lighting Research Center
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mullar2@rpi.edu
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Troy, N.Y. -  8/15/2017

LRC Light and Health Research Applied in the Field, Changing Architectural Practice

Circadian lighting research conducted at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is being applied in the field and having a positive impact on how architects are designing the environment. ZGF Architects developed an illumination scheme for the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, based on circadian rhythms research conducted by the LRC. The lighting subtly changes, with bright, cool light in the morning that gradually becomes warmer over the course of the day. The aim was not only to provide a comfortable environment, but also physiological benefits for patients. The design was recently featured in this Architectural Record article.

LRC research was also recently used as the basis for the lighting design for the Cypress Cove memory care facility in Fort Myers, Florida. The lighting was developed using the circadian stimulus (CS) metric to design and specify the lighting.
 
The CS metric is a measure of how one-hour exposure to a light source of a certain SPD and light level stimulates the human circadian system, as measured by acute melatonin suppression. The CS metric was developed by the LRC from several lines of biophysical research, including those from basic retinal neurophysiology, has been validated in controlled experiments, and has been used successfully in numerous field applications. Unlike other proposed metrics, such as melanopic lux or melanopic content, the CS metric takes into account both the absolute and the spectral sensitivity of the circadian system, ranging from 0.1, the threshold for circadian system activation, to 0.7, response saturation. The LRC has found that exposure to a CS of 0.3 or greater at the eye, for at least one hour in the early part of the day, is effective for stimulating the circadian system and is associated with clinically relevant outcomes, such as reductions in depression and agitation among persons with Alzheimer’s disease, entrainment in U.S. Navy submariners, and improved sleep and mood in office workers. Others have also shown that a CS of 0.3 or greater is associated with better sleep in older adults.
 
The LRC’s CS metric was used earlier this year in a new lighting design for a senior living community in Sacramento. The new installation has improved seniors’ moods, helped them sleep better, and stopped many of them from falling when they wake in the night.
 
“We are thrilled to see our research being applied in the field and changing architectural lighting practice to improve people’s lives,” said LRC Director Mariana Figueiro.

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.”