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

Thursday, October 20, 2005

LRC Designs First-of-its-kind Interactive Lighting Lab
By Mary Cimo
Lighting lab kitchen display

LRC researchers teamed up with Curtis Lumber Co., Inc., a full-service home improvement retail chain, to develop an interactive lighting lab located in Curtis Lumber’s flagship store in Ballston Spa, N.Y. The lab was funded by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) as part of an outreach program promoting the use of ENERGY STAR® lighting products among builders and consumers in New York State. The lab enables customers to compare lighting options in terms of energy use, aesthetics, and lighting quality at the time of purchase—a first-of-its-kind lighting tool for consumers.

“A lack of knowledge about energy-efficient lighting technologies has created a barrier to the acceptance of energy-efficient lighting in residential applications,” said Patricia Rizzo, LRC residential lighting program manager and lead researcher on the lighting lab project. “As a result, the incandescent lamp, despite its inefficiencies, remains the dominant light source used in the home.”

The LRC is using a four-pronged approach to create a lighting-education pipeline to spread the word about energy-efficient lighting by:

1. Developing a first-of-its-kind interactive lighting lab for consumers to compare the effects of different lighting schemes using both incandescent and fluorescent technologies

2. Showcasing ENERGY STAR lighting products in kitchen and bathroom displays

3. Developing “train-the-trainer” seminars to teach Curtis Lumber personnel to educate builders about energy-efficient lighting

4. Providing design consultation services to builders and contractors

Consumers often make lighting choices based on initial purchase price rather than the total cost of lighting, which is dominated by the cost of electricity, according to Mark Rea, Ph.D., LRC director. As consumers have the opportunity to learn more about lighting, including proper selection and placement, they are more apt to be better satisfied with their home environments and, in the end, have more money in their pockets.

The unveiling of the lighting lab also served as the kick-off of the “Change a Light, Change the World” campaign, a collaboration between NYSERDA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy. The campaign was created to encourage every consumer to switch to light fixtures or bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR label—designated products that reduce energy consumption by meeting strict energy efficiency criteria.

"We want to show that the new lighting technologies are just as practical and stylish as standard lighting, and they operate at a fraction of the cost,” said NYSERDA President Peter Smith in a release announcing the unveiling.

The lighting lab displays include demonstrations on how to best use energy-efficient light sources, design techniques for creating task lighting and ambient lighting, how to best use lighting controls to save energy within a home, design techniques for lighting that will meet the visual needs of older adults, and how much energy can be saved in a typical home using ENERGY STAR lighting products.

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.

Rennselear Polytechnic Institute