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

Vol. 2, No. 2

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Lighting Research Center receives $1.7 million to "Capture the Daylight Dividend"

The LRC is launching a new research program to investigate human performance and business benefits of harvesting daylight for use in office buildings.

The Capturing the Daylight Dividends program is a collaborative effort between the LRC, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and other organizations.

LRC Associate Director Russell Leslie, the program's director, says the DOE awarded a research contract in the amount of $850,000, and NYSERDA added $300,000 to that amount. The LRC is receiving additional funding from the Iowa Energy Center, the California Energy Commission, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and Connecticut Light and Power, bringing the total funding for the daylighting research to $1.675 million.

Peter Morante, LRC director of energy programs and the principal investigator of Daylight Dividends, says the LRC defines daylighting as making widespread use of natural light within a building. “Although most work conducted in this area focuses only on energy savings,” says Morante, “the LRC’s research will use daylighting to increase energy savings as well as improve worker productivity and performance.”

Researcher Owen Howlett, a visiting scholar from Great Britain, is working with Morante and Leslie. Howlett says the Daylight Dividends program has three main objectives:
  • to produce an authoritative summary of existing research about health, productivity, psychological, and financial benefits (and drawbacks) of daylighting
  • to conduct further research required to fill gaps in knowledge and overcome technological hurdles
  • to present key decision makers with a strong business case for daylighting

Making that case, says Howlett, involves more than just publishing results in magazines and journals. “We intend to use a targeted approach to reach specific groups such as property developers, facilities managers, and building owners. We will tailor the information to their business needs, and we will make presentations at conferences or directly to specific audiences.” A special online resource center on the LRC's Web site will also support businesses that choose to invest in daylighting.

The program will collaborate with established regional energy-efficiency and sustainability organizations to spread the message. This collaboration, according to Leslie, will distinguish Daylight Dividends from other projects. Peter Morante has already begun the collaboration process by working with focus groups.

The LRC has identified several hurdles that need to be overcome, including
  • technological barriers such as lamp-ballast compatibility and reliability of photosensors
  • specific risk factors such as the potential for building overheating, solar glare, and excessive heat loss during winter
  • actual or perceived high capital cost and construction risk from windows and any new daylighting technology that is developed.

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.

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