Category: Light + Health

Lighting Research Center Accepting Registrations for Light and Health Institute

The Light and Health Institute will be held on September 26-27, 2017 at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) in Troy, NY. This two-day, hands-on seminar for industry professionals will cover…

The Light and Health Institute will be held on September 26-27, 2017 at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) in Troy, NY.

This two-day, hands-on seminar for industry professionals will cover the latest research as it can be applied, and the knowledge necessary to improve modern living environments with circadian-effective lighting to support human health and well being.

The seminar is led by LRC Light and Health Program Director Dr. Mariana Figueiro and LRC Director Dr. Mark Rea.

Participants will earn 13.25 AIA Health, Safety, Welfare Learning Units (LUs/HSW) for attending the seminar and will receive a Continuing Education Certificate in light and health from the LRC.

Click here to learn more.

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Flicker May Play Future Role in Fight Against Alzheimer’s

Researchers have discovered that pulsing light reduces toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease in laboratory mice, raising hopes of future application to humans. Click here to learn more.

Researchers have discovered that pulsing light reduces toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease in laboratory mice, raising hopes of future application to humans.

Click here to learn more.

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LUX Names Russell Foster 2016 Person of the Year

UK-based lighting publication LUX is becoming a must-read magazine for me along with LD+A. The magazine recently awarded 2016 Person of the Year to Professor Russell Foster. Foster’s team at…

russellUK-based lighting publication LUX is becoming a must-read magazine for me along with LD+A.

The magazine recently awarded 2016 Person of the Year to Professor Russell Foster. Foster’s team at Oxford University discovered the eye’s third type of photosensitive cell, which connects to the circadian system. This discovery created the possibility of practical circadian lighting.

Click here to learn more.

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LRC Releases Free, Open Access Circadian Stimulus Calculator

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has recently released a free open-access circadian stimulus (CS) calculator to help lighting professionals select light sources and light levels that…

circadianThe Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has recently released a free open-access circadian stimulus (CS) calculator to help lighting professionals select light sources and light levels that will increase the potential for circadian-effective light exposure in architectural spaces, utilizing the CS metric. Developed by LRC researchers, the CS metric is a new way to quantify light’s impact on acute melatonin suppression, a marker of circadian system activation.

“Lighting for the circadian system employs lighting design objectives that differ from those typically used in traditional architectural lighting design, and therefore, requires metrics that differ from those currently used by lighting designers,” said Professor Mariana Figueiro, Light and Health Program Director at the LRC.

“The CS metric is based on our model of how the retina converts light signals into neural signals for the circadian system,” said Professor Mark Rea, LRC Director. Rea and Figueiro recently published a paper in Lighting Research & Technology detailing how the model works and how it can be used to predict effectiveness of various light sources for stimulating the human circadian system. The paper, “Light as a circadian stimulus for architectural lighting,” was published in December 2016.

The CS metric can be applied with relative ease using the CS calculator. The CS calculator enables a lighting professional to quickly and easily convert the photopic illuminance provided by any light source at any light level into the effectiveness of that light for stimulating the human circadian system, assuming a one-hour exposure to that light source.

When specifying lighting for the circadian system, it is important to consider light level, spectrum (color), timing and duration of exposure, and photic history (previous light exposures). An important first step in establishing whether a lighting system will deliver a prescribed amount of CS is to determine the spectral irradiance distribution of the light incident at the cornea. From this spectral irradiance distribution it is then possible to calculate CS, which is the effectiveness of the spectrally weighted irradiance at the cornea from threshold (CS = 0.1) to saturation (CS = 0.7). 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 better sleep and improved behavior and mood.

In the October issue of LD+A, Figueiro and colleagues discuss the CS metric and present useful tips to help designers create lighting plans that deliver prescribed amounts of CS. In the article, the authors note that, to use the calculator, designers should formulate a base condition by evaluating the space using the CS calculator and commercially available software such as AGi32. The design can later be fine-tuned by again using the CS calculator, while also accommodating IES recommendations, energy codes, and any client workspace specifications.

Click here to access the CS calculator.

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Lighting for The Aging Eye

In this visual presentation, the Lighting Research Center’s Mariana Figueiro discusses the aging eye’s response to light and what lighting practitioners should do about it. Check it out here.

In this visual presentation, the Lighting Research Center’s Mariana Figueiro discusses the aging eye’s response to light and what lighting practitioners should do about it.

Check it out here.

aging-eye

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Lighting Controls Association Adds New Course on Tunable-White Lighting

The Lighting Controls Association (LCA) has published a new course to enhance its popular Education Express program: EE303: Tunable-White Lighting. As acting education director of LCA, I was happy to…

The Lighting Controls Association (LCA) has published a new course to enhance its popular Education Express program: EE303: Tunable-White Lighting. As acting education director of LCA, I was happy to have the opportunity to author this content.

LED lighting technology promises many benefits, one of which is practical color output tuning. Popular approaches include full-range, dim-to-warm and white light tuning. EE303 covers tunable-white lighting technology and application. Students learn color fundamentals and how to select and apply appropriate color-tuning approaches and tunable-white lighting technologies.

EE303 is registered with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Continuing Education System (CES), which recognizes 2.0 Learning Units (LU)/Health, Safety, Welfare (HSW) credits; and the National Council on Quality in the Lighting Professions (NCQLP), which recognizes 2.0 LEUs towards maintenance of the Lighting Certified (LC) certification.

To register and take this course, click here and then click the Education Express button on the right.

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Interview with Juno’s Scott Roos on Light and Health

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Roos, Vice President Product Design, Juno Lighting Group (Acuity Brands). The topic: lighting and health. I’m happy to share his responses with…

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Roos, Vice President Product Design, Juno Lighting Group (Acuity Brands). The topic: lighting and health. I’m happy to share his responses with you here. The interview informed an article I wrote for the August 2016 issue of tED.

DiLouie: What do we currently know with a fair degree of certainty about the relationship between light and health?

Roos: We know with certainty that for normal populations exposure to blue rich light during the day supports optimal circadian health, and exposure to blue rich light at night disrupts our circadian rhythms with negative consequences for sleep and health.

DiLouie: What don’t we know yet? What research is being done to gain this knowledge, and how might it affect lighting practice?

Roos: Our knowledge of how specific wavelengths, doses and exposure times impact our various biological, physiological and behavioral systems and how these can be effected by personal factors such as age, caffeine consumption or specific health conditions, while increasing, is still limited. Numerous research studies continue to be conducted by both the public and private sector. As these research results along with early adopter applications come online with evidence- based results, our knowledge base and ability to provide more concrete recommendations for lighting practitioners will continue to increase. The most comprehensive listing of research in this field can be found on the Lighting Research Center website http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/lightHealth/research.asp. It is also important to understand that the study of light and health is a subset of a larger emerging field of study known as circadian medicine, of which light exposure is an important, but not the only component.

DiLouie: The relationship between light and health is now turning into a conversation about best practices related to lighting design and health. What can the lighting industry definitively claim at this time?

Roos: First, there is no substitute to being exposed to natural light. Taking time in the morning and during the day to go for a walk may sound simple, but it is probably the best way to optimize your circadian entrainment. Likewise, there are numerous studies going back many years that show how day lighted interiors with a view support health and well-being.

Second, during the day when indoors, while we may not know everything about how the exact spectra and amount of artificial lighting effects our health and wellbeing, for normal populations you probably can’t have too much illumination or too cool of a color quality of light. Typical indoor artificial illumination is much warmer and at much lower levels than what we experience outdoors.

Third, at night minimize both the amount and the blue content of light.

And fourth, recognize that negative lifestyle habits, including using self-illuminated devices at night, can negate the impact of even the best thought- through interior circadian-sensitive lighting plan.

DiLouie: How do you feel about where the industry is currently going with this? Do you think we’re getting it right? Where are we getting it wrong? How close are we to an industry recommended practice?

Roos: The “typical” lighting scenario of working in a cool, brightly illuminated office during the day and a warmer, more dimly illuminated home environment during the evening is actually spot-on in terms of supporting good circadian health for normal populations. We are starting to characterize the circadian content of various light sources, which is different than the visual amount of light as measured in lumens or footcandles. Understanding this will help us do a better job selecting the most efficient light source in terms of either eliciting a circadian response during the day or preventing it at night. And optimizing the circadian content of a lightsource will allow us to stimulate a circadian response with lower levels of illumination, which will address the concern over having to using more energy for circadian lighting installations. As we continue the migration toward LED technology we will have more refined ways to optimize the quality and amount of light both during the day and at night.

For example, we can now spectrally tune LEDs both to insert or remove blue content and can specify warm dimming as an option on an increasing array of luminaire types. As far as IES recommended practices on Light and Health, while we can reasonably expect to start seeing references made to this subject in various publications, including the soon to be updated IES RP-29 Lighting for Healthcare Facilities, specific recommendations are still several years away. It is one thing for someone like myself who follows this topic to express opinions based on reviewing research, presentations and having discussions with leading experts. It is yet another for an industry organization such as the IES to publish recommendations that need to be based on exacting research and evidence-based results. By the time these are available I expect that the basic principles of healthy circadian lighting for normal populations will already be widely understood. The biggest impact that the recommended practices will likely have is on the nuanced use of lighting for non-normal populations such as shift workers, less mobile elderly in extended care facilities and people with specific health conditions.

DiLouie: In healthcare environments, what role can lighting play in facilitating well-being and enhancing the treatment and healing process?

Roos: The answer to this question contains both simple and complex components. The simple components involve providing as normal of an exposure to simulated day/night quality and cycles of illumination for the benefit of the patients. The medium complexity issues are how to best keep healthcare night shift workers alert, productive and less error prone while supporting their circadian health. And the most complex aspect of this, relating to enhancing the treatment and healing process, will be borne out of the growing body of research where scientists are studying the effect that different spectra, amounts of light, exposure times and time of day that exposures are administered have on various medical conditions and the efficacy of the plethora of pharmaceutical treatments.

The first issue can be addressed by the lighting practitioner with a modest bit of research and education. The second issue can be addressed by the lighting practitioner in cooperation with experts on 24/7 work environments and circadian health. This likely will entail both the specification/installation/commissioning of a given lighting system and ongoing monitoring of shift workers’ biological markers with real-time feedback to adjust the lighting system as needed. And the third issue will fall mostly outside the scope of a lighting practitioner and into the domain of a healthcare professional. The lighting practitioner may be directed to specify a given luminaire, likely listed with the FDA as a medical device, with a given set of capabilities and be responsible to place the fixture(s) such that their location and interaction with room surfaces optimizes the amount of light actually reaching the patient’s eyes. But a healthcare professional will be responsible to select the exact spectra, amount, timing and duration required for a given patient.

DiLouie: What are the benefits for owners of commercial lighting systems for giving design priority to lighting that is conducive to circadian health?

Roos: While still very early in the adoption cycle there is a small, but growing body of early-adopter applications that are demonstrating that the principles of optimized circadian lighting as proven in laboratories can indeed improve an occupant’s productivity, health, sleep and emotional well-being. This applies across a wide range of applications ranging from sports team locker rooms, classrooms, special education facilities, extended care facilities offices and 24/7 industrial operations. Each different application will yield its own set of benefits for which the building owner can decide if it is worth the extra effort and cost to achieve. For a school it might be higher student achievement/attendance. For an office it might be higher employee productivity & morale, reduced sick days/medical claims and lower turnover. For a healthcare facility it might be quicker patient healing times, improved health & attendance of night shift staff with a lower rate of errors. And in a 24/7 industrial it could be improved worker safety, performance and attendance.

DiLouie: What should electrical distributors be doing at this time to properly promote and sell lighting solutions that are conducive to health?

Roos: The biggest thing that an electrical distributor can do at this point in the adoption cycle is to educate themselves such that they can at least bring up the opportunity and benefits that optimized circadian lighting can have, on top of basic energy savings, to their clients, and then position themselves to partner with independent consultants and knowledgeable manufacturers to help them recommend and implement the best solutions. Also, it is important to be able to recognize and point out situations that can be especially detrimental if circadian lighting principles are not adhered to. For example, if you are working on project to light classrooms or lecture halls that will be used both during the daytime and evening, you owe it to your customer to make them aware that providing blue rich light in a classroom at night can negatively impact student performance and well-being. Or, if you are lighting an extended care facility consider recommending that your customer work with an expert to optimize the lighting such that it will significantly improve the physical and emotional health and social integration of residents, help improve the working conditions for staff and likely lower the cost of care.

DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about lighting and health, what would it be?

Roos: The whole field of circadian medicine, which includes circadian lighting, is an emerging field that is poised to have a monumental impact on human health, well-being and productivity. It will increasingly effect preventive health, medical treatment protocols and guide how we light our daytime and nighttime environments. Like any new field it likely will take a decade or more to become mainstream, but that creates a great opportunity for you to lead your organization into this emerging field and create your network of experts that allows you to step into a non-commoditized “blue-ocean” field and differentiate yourself in your served markets. Don’t take my word on it…do your own research, starting with the information posted on the Lighting Research Institute and Human Centric Lighting web sites, and form you own conclusions.

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AIA Survey Finds Healthy Buildings Becoming Key Design Priority

Nearly three quarters of U.S. architects say the health impacts of buildings are influencing their design decisions. That finding parallels a strong market demand by building owners, with a solid…

Nearly three quarters of U.S. architects say the health impacts of buildings are influencing their design decisions. That finding parallels a strong market demand by building owners, with a solid two-thirds surveyed also reporting that health considerations affect how they design and construct buildings.

These findings and others were recently released in a new report, The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016 by Dodge Data & Analytics, in partnership with Delos and the Canada Green Building Council, and with the participation of the American Institute of Architects as a critical research advisor and partner.

According to the report, the top five healthier building features implemented by architects include:

· Better lighting/daylighting exposure

· Products that enhance thermal comfort

· Spaces that enhance social interaction

· Enhanced air quality

· Products that enhance acoustical comfort

Use of nearly all of these is expected to grow considerably, the report found.

The findings suggest electric lighting and daylighting will play a leading role in this trend.

Check out the report here.

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DOE Hosts Webinars on Healthcare Lighting

DOE is offering a series of webinars on healthcare lighting. Both start at 1:00 PM EST and last for 60 minutes: Tuesday, October 4: Evidence-Based Design for Healthcare Lighting: Where’s…

DOE is offering a series of webinars on healthcare lighting. Both start at 1:00 PM EST and last for 60 minutes:

Tuesday, October 4: Evidence-Based Design for Healthcare Lighting: Where’s the Evidence?
Presenters: Anjali Joseph, Clemson University, Robert Davis and Andrea Wilkerson, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The nonvisual effects of light have captured a lot of interest lately, as important new research on the topic emerges. But beyond the nonvisual effects of light, architectural lighting supports other important outcomes for caregivers and patients, addressing visual task needs and providing for overall comfort and wellbeing. This webinar will present results from a major literature review summarizing published evidence for the benefits of high-quality healthcare lighting reported in recent research. It will also discuss how future research can provide even stronger evidence to link the design of healthcare facilities to a holistic set of human needs. The presenters will describe the major findings from recent research related to lighting for healthcare applications, explain how research methodology can be improved for future application to healthcare design, evaluate how the principles derived from recent research can be applied to an evidence-based design process that addresses a holistic set of visual and nonvisual human needs, and compare the benefits and drawbacks of emerging SSL technologies for addressing the needs of patients and caregivers in healthcare applications.

Click here to learn more or register.

Tuesday, October 18: Tuning the Light in Senior Care
Presenters: Connie Samla, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Robert Davis and Andrea Wilkerson, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

DOE collaborated with the Sacramento (CA) Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and the ACC Care Center in Sacramento to evaluate a trial installation of LED lighting systems, in preparation for a planned expansion and renovation at ACC. New LED lighting systems, including white-tunable luminaires and amber night lighting, were installed in two patient rooms, a central nurse station, corridor, family room, and administrative office. The systems were compared to the existing fluorescent systems in terms of their photometric performance and estimated energy use, and the ACC staff tracked behavioral and health measures before and after the installation. This webinar will share the results of the initial pilot study and how this has affected ACC’s future plans. The presenters will evaluate the results of the trial lighting systems (including energy, photometry, patient behavioral measures, and feedback from patients and caregivers), analyze several techniques for implementing amber LED lighting for nighttime navigation, describe the control scripts used for tuning the LED lighting spectrum and output based on the desired sleep cycle effects at different times of the day, and explain the challenges faced when installing these solutions in existing buildings.

Click here to learn more or register.

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Lighting for Health

Below is my contribution to the August issue of tED Magazine on the topic of lighting and health. Reprinted with permission. For millions of years, sunrise and sunset set the…

Below is my contribution to the August issue of tED Magazine on the topic of lighting and health. Reprinted with permission.

For millions of years, sunrise and sunset set the human body clock, or circadian system. This system produces and regulates bodily functions such as sleep-wake cycles, body temperature and hormonal release based on 24-hour cycles, or circadian rhythms. These functions in turn are stimulated by light falling on specialized cells in the eye that convert it into neural signals.

In the modern age, humans spend the vast majority of their time indoors exposed to electric lighting systems designed primarily for vision. People also spend large amounts of time with mobile devices. This creates risks of circadian disruption that can affect health and well-bring.

“Research now tells us that a disrupted circadian system is connected to long-term health, productivity and behavioral problems such as fatigue, cancer, obesity, diabetes, depression, mood and sleep disorders, reduced physical and mental performance, and irritability,” says Bonnie Littman, President and CEO, USAI Lighting. “In essence, light is powerful and essential, and can and should be used for the betterment of human health and well-bring.”

As scientists advance our understanding of light and health, the lighting industry is beginning to experiment with practices and products that can be used to create more circadian-friendly environments.

“There is currently enough evidence to claim benefit for individual health and happiness,” says John Hollander, Director Brand Development, Hubbell Healthcare Solutions. “Where care has to be taken is claiming healing benefits or patient outcomes.”

What we know

The Lighting Research Center has identified four main characteristics that influence light’s impact on circadian health:

• Intensity: cumulative amount of light falling on the eye’s photoreceptors throughout the day—an issue of vertical, not horizontal, light levels. This may be the chief influence.
• Spectrum: wavelength of the light. Visual acuity is most responsive to “green” (medium-wavelength) light, while circadian regulation is most responsive to “blue” (short-wavelength) light. Meanwhile, “red” light can increase daytime and nighttime alertness, making it also important.
• Timing: when light and spectrum are received by the eye’s photoreceptors. A high intensity of blue light received in the morning will aid an early bedtime but can delay sleep if received in the evening.
• Duration: quantity of time of exposure. The circadian system responds slowly to light received throughout the day.

“We know with certainty that for normal populations, exposure to blue-rich light during the day supports optimal circadian health, and exposure to blue-rich light at night disrupts our circadian rhythms with negative consequences for sleep and health,” says Scott Roos, Vice President Product Design, Juno Lighting Group, an Acuity Brands company. “The ‘typical’ lighting scenario of working in a cool, brightly illuminated office during the day and a warmer, more dimly illuminated home environment during the evening is actually spot-on in terms of supporting good circadian health for normal populations.”

Healthcare and assisted-living facilities are considered solid early adopter opportunities for circadian lighting strategies. Image courtesy of USAI Lighting.

Healthcare and assisted-living facilities are considered solid early adopter opportunities for circadian lighting strategies. Image courtesy of USAI Lighting.

The devil in the details

Current research doesn’t connect health outcomes with specific lighting design strategies. Most research is conducted in laboratory conditions, and with average responses. Additionally, nighttime light exposure is as important as daytime exposure, and individual lifestyle trumps all of it.

The lighting industry understands that light and health are connected, and that lighting, as the application of light, can impact health. Practitioners have the basic understanding and tools they need to make lighting systems more circadian-friendly. They’re just not sure to what extent and for what percentage of people. And there’s currently no best practice.

“The science of illumination is expanding with varying experts’ views on applications and outcomes,” Littman says. “Creating new metrics to explain how light impacts our biological systems will be critical in realizing the promise that light has in its impact on health and productivity.”

Hollander recognizes that current research suggests some general guidelines but otherwise the industry is still learning. “There isn’t a recognized ‘prescription’ for the optimized spectrum, intensity, timing and duration,” he says. “It is very likely we will see a ‘prescription’ or template in the future with the equipment to support it.”

Ideal early applications include environments in which occupant activity and wake/sleep patterns are predictable, such as healthcare and assisted-living facilities. Roos says research is continuing and, along with the results of early adopter applications, will reveal recommended practices. He says: “Our knowledge base and ability to provide more concrete information will continue to increase.” By the time organizations such as the Illuminating Engineering Society publish a specific recommended practice, he adds, the basics of circadian lighting will be widely understood.

“Additional tools will be used to guide us,” says Littman. “There are new lighting metrics such as circadian light, circadian stimulus, melanopic lux and others that are emerging to guide lighting product development and lighting design practice.”

General guidelines

“Research has shown that by providing exposure to natural light throughout the day or electric illumination where the intensity and spectrum is adjusted for the time of day, individuals experience a more typical sleep/wake pattern,” Hollander says.

He points to research specifically recommending introduction of blue-rich light starting in the morning with an intensity of 30-40 vertical footcandles. The light would then transition to a warmer spectrum and lower light levels at late afternoon and into the evening. At home, intensity would then drop to 1-2 footcandles before total darkness at bedtime.

Looking at a typical commercial building with workers occupying it on a 9-5 schedule, several elements are needed in the lighting design. Since we are concerned with vertical illumination, the lighting must deliver sufficient light on vertical surfaces such as walls. Task lighting can efficiently provide high local vertical light levels. The lighting system must be properly controlled to automatically adjust intensity and optimally spectrum during the day on a schedule. Ideally, occupants will be exposed to daylight. If they don’t have access to daylight, they should be encouraged to take a 30-minute walk outside in daylight in the morning. Finally, they should be educated about good nighttime lighting practices.

Circadian lighting and LED sources with intelligent control are ideally matched. “We are starting to characterize the circadian content of various light sources, which is different than the visual amount of light as measured in lumens or footcandles,” Roos says. “Understanding this will help us do a better job selecting the most efficient light source in terms of either eliciting a circadian response during the day or preventing it at night. As we continue the migration toward LED technology, we will have more refined ways to optimize the quality and amount of light both during the day and at night. For example, we can now spectrally tune LEDs to insert or remove blue content and can specify warm dimming as an option.”

Distributors interested in circadian lighting should get educated about the latest research and principles, and identify experts and manufacturers that can be used as a resource. Distributors may also benefit from being able to point out poor approaches, such as a space that operates during the day and night but maintains blue-rich, high-intensity light at night instead of adjusting to warmer, lower-intensity light.

“Like any new field, it will likely take a decade or more to become mainstream, but that creates a great opportunity for you to lead your organization into this emerging field,” Roos says. “An opportunity to create your network of experts that allow you to step into a non-commoditized ‘blue ocean’ field and differentiate yourself in your served markets.”

Hollander concludes: “The convergence of growing research on the connection between lighting and health and the capabilities of solid-state lighting and controls presents an exciting opportunity. We can dramatically change our approaches to lighting spaces and deliver a new level of interaction between occupants and their space.”

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