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Lighting Research Center
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Troy, N.Y. -  8/15/2017

LRC Light and Health Research Applied in the Field, Changing Architectural Practice

Circadian lighting research conducted at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is being applied in the field and having a positive impact on how architects are designing the environment. ZGF Architects developed an illumination scheme for the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, based on circadian rhythms research conducted by the LRC. The lighting subtly changes, with bright, cool light in the morning that gradually becomes warmer over the course of the day. The aim was not only to provide a comfortable environment, but also physiological benefits for patients. The design was recently featured in this Architectural Record article.

LRC research was also recently used as the basis for the lighting design for the Cypress Cove memory care facility in Fort Myers, Florida. The lighting was developed using the circadian stimulus (CS) metric to design and specify the lighting.
 
The CS metric is a measure of how one-hour exposure to a light source of a certain SPD and light level stimulates the human circadian system, as measured by acute melatonin suppression. The CS metric was developed by the LRC from several lines of biophysical research, including those from basic retinal neurophysiology, has been validated in controlled experiments, and has been used successfully in numerous field applications. Unlike other proposed metrics, such as melanopic lux or melanopic content, the CS metric takes into account both the absolute and the spectral sensitivity of the circadian system, ranging from 0.1, the threshold for circadian system activation, to 0.7, response saturation. The LRC has found that exposure to a CS of 0.3 or greater at the eye, for at least one hour in the early part of the day, is effective for stimulating the circadian system and is associated with clinically relevant outcomes, such as reductions in depression and agitation among persons with Alzheimer’s disease, entrainment in U.S. Navy submariners, and improved sleep and mood in office workers. Others have also shown that a CS of 0.3 or greater is associated with better sleep in older adults.
 
The LRC’s CS metric was used earlier this year in a new lighting design for a senior living community in Sacramento. The new installation has improved seniors’ moods, helped them sleep better, and stopped many of them from falling when they wake in the night.
 
“We are thrilled to see our research being applied in the field and changing architectural lighting practice to improve people’s lives,” said LRC Director Mariana Figueiro.

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 www.lrc.rpi.edu.

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.