Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment.

Vol. 2, No. 2

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Daylighting studies at the LRC yielding results

Research into the effects of daylighting on the circadian system continues at the LRC with funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. A new study--a follow up to an earlier study--has just concluded, and the researchers are in the data analysis stage now. The study's results may have implications both for energy efficiency in office buildings and for worker productivity.

In January and February, LRC researchers put 17 temporary workers through their paces in long workdays that started before sunrise and ended after dark so that the researchers could control their access to daylight. "We wanted to bring people in early enough and keep them late enough that they didn't have any access to daylight, so they didn't have any light cues outside the laboratory to re-set their circadian cycles," says Jennifer Brons, an LRC lighting researcher who helped run the study. "That's why we chose January and February for our data collection--because the days are shortest then."

This new study, done in the LRC's laboratories, follows an earlier study that was done in an actual office building. Participants in the current study included adults of all ages and both genders. Brons says, "We set people up with computers and gave them tasks to do, and we monitored their work and measured their performance on the tasks. Tasks included data entry and numerical verification." One group of participants worked in a windowless environment, while a second group had workspaces with windows. The groups switched after a week so that all participants experienced both environments.

Brons says, "We expect to show that participants in the windowless condition exhibited compensatory behaviors like eating more snacks and taking more coffee breaks than the participants in the windowed condition." The researchers plan to have final results of the study by the end of this summer.

About the LRC

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. Founded in 1988, the Lighting Research Center has built an international reputation as a trusted and reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. Its mission is to advance the effective use of light and create a positive legacy of change for society and the environment

2003 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180 USA.

Rennselear Polytechnic Institute