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Troy, N.Y. -  10/20/2009

Welch Allyn Global Headquarters Takes Advantage of Daylighting with Help from LRC DesignWorks

Welch Allyn, a leading global manufacturer of frontline medical products and solutions, decided to improve the image, function, and sustainability of its global headquarters in upstate New York by designing a new expansion that incorporates daylighting. They called on the Lighting Research Center DesignWorks team to review the plans and make recommendations to ensure the daylighting design was effective, comfortable and energy efficient.

Roof skylight rendering“From its onset, the Lighting Research Center has effectively paired advanced science with dynamic design concepts—critically addressing the personal, environmental, and economic needs of contemporary society for each design project it undertakes,” said Russ Leslie, LRC Associate Director. “The LRC has branded its design approach and expertise through its DesignWorks program, where lighting solutions are built around energy-efficient lighting with style.” 

Welch Allyn was looking to add a large multi-story atrium to its facility in upstate New York, with a façade shading system and skylights integrated with the electric lighting system to reduce energy use, according to LRC DesignWorks Program Manager Patricia Rizzo, LEED AP, Assoc. IALD. She explained, however, that the original design had its challenges. For example, the building faces southeast and receives intense glare from the morning sun, and it is located in a region with predominantly overcast sky conditions.

By combining science, sustainability and style, LRC DesignWorks partnered with Welch Allyn to enhance the original design to overcome these challenges and create an inviting, comfortable atmosphere that remains true to Welch Allyn’s commitment to reducing energy costs, according to Rizzo.

The multi-story atrium is a signature component of Welch Allyn headquarters remodeling project. By optimizing the solar orientation and geometry of the atrium’s skylights, the LRC DesignWorks team was able to reduce what’s known as the glazing area, which includes any assembly or components of assemblies for transmitting daylight. In addition to increasing design and building expenses, glazing areas can increase a facility’s heating and cooling costs.  The new design improved performance and energy efficiency, according to LRC Senior Research Specialist Aaron Smith. Independent energy modeling also indicates the daylighting design will reduce energy costs by $10,000 annually.

“LRC DesignWorks compared alternatives to our proposed design, determined the energy and comfort impact of the daylighting systems, and suggested ways we could best optimize the design to achieve the image, comfort level, and energy savings we intended,” said Welch Allyn Director of Operations Scott Spanfelner. “It was great to work with a design team so well versed in the science of light and sustainability. Their involvement has helped to ensure that our design expectations will be met, and our energy savings exceed what we originally anticipated. We look forward to showcasing the final daylighting design when the project is unveiled in early 2010.”  

LRC DesignWorks also added skylights to the design for many of the office areas. The team recommended the use of prismatic skylights that maximize the amount of light entering the space while also diffusing the light to reduce glare, and splayed light wells to help distribute the daylight. By distributing the light, electric lighting in the space could then be outfitted with daylight harvesting equipment that turns off electric lights when sufficient daylight is available.  The team also balanced comfort and energy savings by recommending an automatic shade system to mitigate glare and maximize daylight harvesting potential in the building’s perimeter.

According to Spanfelner, the new design also created an equalization of light within the space that hadn’t existed previously. 

More on Daylighting and LRC DesignWorks

Daylighting is a key component of green building design and is essential for developing buildings with good energy performance and occupant satisfaction. 

The LRC DesignWorks team takes a holistic approach to the daylighting design process and quantifies decisions by comparing a base case design to alternative daylighting designs. An experienced team of LRC lighting scientists and designers works together to examine and consider the customer’s goals and intentions, desired light levels and lighting needs, daylight harvesting options and new technologies, energy costs, materials and sustainability issues, and occupant comfort.

Each project begins with a meeting of the minds—clients and the LRC DesignWorks team discuss design intent and objectives. Clients often have a planned daylighting strategy and are looking to find out the impact of that strategy on the building and whether the design should be optimized to help meet their goals. The original design becomes the base case and is used as a benchmark to compare LRC DesignWorks’ ideas and strategies. Several factors are considered when developing alternative daylighting strategies including climate, location, building configuration, solar access, energy savings potential, and design intent. LRC DesignWorks then uses the latest modeling software to help demonstrate these ideas and their performance to the client.

Additional services offered by LRC DesignWorks include collaborating with integrated electric lighting design and control system specification, as well as post construction case study evaluation.

Learn more about LRC DesignWorks.  

About Welch Allyn

Founded in 1915 and headquartered in Skaneateles Falls, NY (USA), Welch Allyn is a leading global manufacturer of medical diagnostic equipment and a complete range of digital and connected solutions. With 2,500 employees working in 26 different countries, Welch Allyn specializes in helping doctors, nurses, and other frontline practitioners across the globe provide the best patient care by developing innovative products, breakthrough technologies, and cutting-edge solutions that help them see more patients, detect more conditions, and improve more lives. More information about Welch Allyn and its complete line of connected products and solutions may be found at


About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC conducts research in light and human health, transportation lighting and safety, solid-state lighting, energy efficiency, and plant health. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. Learn more at

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America's first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.