home | site map | newsroom | publications | search

LRC News

Tuesday, May 8, 2007
LRC Students Design Lighting for First Optimum Performance Home

Project sparks article in Ultimate Home Design magazine
By Keith Toomey

Computer rendering of home interior
In fall 2006, a select group of students from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was asked to design the lighting for the first Optimum Performance Home – an exemplary home/office complex at the Sea Ranch development in Sonoma County, California. The home is a Platinum-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – part of the U.S. Green Building Council) for homes project and is one of only two homes in California to achieve this status.

The students placed some science behind the art and based their lighting design for this complex endeavor on research-based evidence. Graduate students Sandhya Parameswaran, Rui (Nancy) Qi, and Robert Soler were joined by Justin Bosy, an undergraduate student. Their challenge was unique in the sense that this home was to represent all things not only good and sustainable, but technologically cutting edge as well – and it was to accommodate both a family and a work environment.

“They had to integrate lighting solutions for the aging eye and universal design, energy-efficiency, sustainability, light pollution, and an extraordinary amount of home theater and electronic equipment, while maintaining a warm, comfortable, and WOW environment for the homeowners and their extensive family,” explained Patricia Rizzo, residential program manager at the LRC and the student’s instructor for the project.

The house had few walls and an abundance of electronic equipment. Multiple windows and skylights made it difficult to prevent light from projecting upward and outward. After considering the house and grounds holistically, the students divided the structure into sections that they each could address. While working together to ensure the effect was cohesive, they gave each section a distinct identity.

The students were in the middle of their fall semester in Troy, New York, and the project was in Sonoma County, California, so they did not have the luxury of a site visit or architectural structure to review. Through multiple telephone interviews and teleconferences with the owner and the design team (which was spread out from California to Massachusetts) the students developed their design intent. They identified lighting objectives consistent with sustainability, universal design, energy efficiency, and the zero light pollution policy of Sea Ranch. Their solutions included a solar-powered portable bollard, dual circuited direct-indirect custom linear pendants for the kitchen, and cool LED accents on artwork to contrast with warm LED lighting delineating the adjacent stairs. They also placed warm accent lighting to graze the beautiful woods of multi-level ceilings and exterior walls.

The students created computer renderings that allowed the client to see what his house would actually end up looking like. Their completed design so impressed Gary Reber, the client and editor of Ultimate Home Design magazine (www.ultimatehomedesign.com), that he invited them to write an article about it. The article “The Lighting Design Process: design, conceptual and development” is featured in the March/April 2007 issue.

“I could not be more proud of these students,” said Rizzo. “I can't say enough about how above and beyond they went to create such phenomenal work. They spent hundreds of hours on this project alone, when they had other classes and finals as well.”

About the Lighting Research Center

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y., and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. The LRC offers the world's premier graduate education in lighting, including one- and two-year master's programs and a Ph.D. program. Since 1988 the LRC has built an international reputation as a reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. The LRC also provides training programs for government agencies, utilities, contractors, lighting designers, and other lighting professionals. Visit http://www.lrc.rpi.edu.

Contact:lrcnewsletter@rpi.eduPhotos & Graphics:Dennis Guyon
Editor:Keith ToomeyWeb Production:Joann Coffey
Contributing Writers:Jennifer Taylor, Keith Toomey, Dennis Guyon
  Newsroom Home
  Press Releases
  Project Sheets
  LRC Experts
  Quick Facts
  About Us
  Contact Us