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

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General News
Load-shedding systems may reduce power outages

Finding ways to prevent power outages is of increasing interest nationwide, especially in light of the recent distressing power outages to northeastern United States.

The Lighting Research Center has been developing special lighting controls that may offer an inexpensive "insurance policy" against such costly interruptions.

Rather than sacrificing air conditioning and other mechanical systems, these new lighting methods allow office workers to keep their cool while offering an energy-efficient, cost-effective means to reduce the likelihood of further system failures.

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Bridges in Light symposium – Charting a new course for lighting

The LRC is gearing up for this month’s inaugural, groundbreaking event—the Bridges in Light symposium. Lighting professionals, utilities officials, government, manufacturers, and engineers from around the world will gather on Wednesday, October 22 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to explore the social and technological drivers affecting the lighting industry and to chart a new course for the field.

This exciting event is approaching quickly. A few seats are still available. Register soon for the opportunity to help shape the future of lighting. To register, contact Patricia Rizzo at (518) 687-7100.

Throughout the day, more than 20 industry leaders and researchers will share the latest lighting technologies and future trends during a number of lectures and panel sessions. The group also will partake in discussions about new directions and changes for stakeholders in lighting.

The event concludes with an evening festival and dinner. Learn more about the guest speakers and sessions at, or read the press release.

Daylight Dividends web site unveiled
Building owners, architects, and engineers interested in harvesting the benefits of natural light now have a new resource at their fingertips: the LRC's Daylight Dividends web site.

The web site acts as an information center for those who design and construct office buildings and want to learn more about daylighting—its benefits, design, usage, and implementation. The site provides research evidence, authoritative guidance, and perspectives supporting its use in commercial and educational facilities.

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Lighting Answers clarifies many of the claimed benefits of full-spectrum lighting

The National Lighting Product Information Program (NLPIP) has released a new publication that takes a hard look at full-spectrum lighting. Lighting Answers: Full Spectrum Light Sources examines full-spectrum lamps, which are often touted by manufacturers as offering a variety of benefits, including better visibility, improved color rendering, better health, and greater productivity. The report addresses questions about these products: What are they? How valid are the claimed benefits? Are they worth the extra cost?

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What color is your headlamp? Reducing glare and improving road safety

Working with a number of government agencies, manufacturers, and research groups, transportation lighting researchers at the LRC are learning more about how automotive headlamps provide visibility and what can be done to reduce any problems drivers may face on the road at night.

In the last ten years, automobile manufacturers have implemented new light sources into headlamps, changing the lamps’ oncoming appearance. “The new headlamp source technologies we are seeing on the roads these days are one factor in increased reports of glare from drivers,” said Dr. John Van Derlofske, head of the Transportation Lighting Group at the LRC.

As a result, the LRC and its Transportation Lighting Alliance have completed several investigations into the what, why, and how of headlamps and their effects on drivers.

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Shedding light on emergency vehicles

LRC researchers have released a brief statement regarding emergency lighting for police cars and other emergency vehicles. Collisions with stopped police and other emergency vehicles alongside the highway are far too common.

LRC scientists are currently working on a number of transportation/vehicle-related lighting projects, including evaluation of HID headlamps for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer recently issued a legal opinion that New York state vehicles cannot legally use blue lights because this color is reserved for volunteer firefighters. Claims that blue lights are more easily seen than other color lights prompted state Sen. Nicholas Spano to propose a bill to allow the use of blue lights on police vehicles. But are blue lights really safer? How can we make emergency vehicles more easily visible?

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LRC evaluates LEDs for use in outdoor signage

Rapidly evolving LEDs are making headway in the world of general illumination, and the next big thing for solid-state lighting may soon be seen at the mom-and-pop store around the corner. As a follow-up to the success of LEDs in the traffic signal market, the next major impact for this progressive light source may be in the commercial outdoor signage industry.

LRC researchers have recently completed a year-long study to evaluate the use of LEDs in backlighted outdoor signs.

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Driven to distraction: does task load hinder driving?

Drivers use their peripheral vision to detect potential hazards in adjacent areas such as pedestrians or animals about to cross the roadway. Drivers, however, are often busy with other mental tasks as they drive. Dr. Yukio Akashi and LRC graduate student Jason Neches studied the effect these mental tasks have on a driver’s ability to detect potential hazards along the roadway.

They presented their findings in a paper, “The Effects of Task Load on Peripheral Target Detection,” at the 2003 CIE (the International Commission on Illumination) Conference held this summer in San Diego, Calif.

Dr. Akashi's team also studied how different types of street lighting can affect peripheral target detection.

“We wanted to bridge the gap between laboratory studies and the real world,” says Dr. Akashi. This study does that. But, he says, it also demonstrates a need for a more complete study.

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LRC students win optical design competition

Two LRC graduate students have won the 2003 Optical Design Competition sponsored by Optical Research Associates. Awards are given annually to students who submit projects showing excellence in optical design. The projects demonstrate software modeling and design parameters for automotive headlamps and LED light fixtures.

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Okay to dim your lights at work?

Are office workers willing to have their lights dimmed to help reduce the demand on our nation’s electric grid? If so, how much can their lights be dimmed before they even notice?

Reducing the peak demand for lighting energy through a technique known as load shedding can be an effective method of load management. This is particularly true when demand for electricity approaches the capacity of the power supply system because these “peak demand” periods call upon smaller, more costly generators to be brought online.

“Lighting offers an opportunity to reduce short-term demand for electricity without impacting productivity and normal business activities,” says Dr. Yukio Akashi of the Lighting Research Center (LRC). Dr. Akashi and LRC graduate student Jason Neches studied workers’ light level requirements with respect to dimming. Their paper, “Detectability and Acceptability of Illuminance Reduction for Load Shedding,” has been published in the Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA).

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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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