Monthly Archives: March 2016

Creating Sustainable Lighting Solutions

Bushwick Park: project by AWA Lighting Designers

Bushwick Park: project by AWA Lighting Designers

Over time, the architectural community has become increasingly invested in the realization of environmentally sustainable design, and this trend shows no sign of abating. This is a global movement. Sustainable solutions acting in a major metropolis can save building owners significantly on operational costs and cut back in vast quantities on the carbon emissions that would otherwise pervade. And, in other parts of the world, sustainable lighting solutions can make the difference between continuing one’s day, be that education, work or home tasks, or allowing darkness to swallow up needed hours of productivity. Thus, sustainability touches us all.

From low impact materials to energy efficiency, to design for reuse and recycling, there is much to be done. In this context, design connects architects with their partners and consultants, as they work toward their common goal of defining and creating structures that live up to the promise of sustainability. With architecture, technologies, materials and products all merge to create the tangible pieces of lighting design. In their collective application we see the final effects, and the success or failure of strategies and visions. How these pieces are put to use by installers and later by building occupants has tremendous importance on their visual comfort, efficiency performance, function and beauty that must be considered carefully from design inception.

Able to realize the vision of their architectural partners, lighting designers are critical members of the process. For, it is very true that one of the most efficient ways to reduce the overall carbon footprint of a structure is to amend its lighting design with smartly conceived and realized design. And, in the developing world, sustainable lighting nourishes the very essence of life. Thus, although it is just one piece of the puzzle, lighting has an outsized effect on sustainability. Understanding what is possible in this arena only serves to invigorate a practice and encourage new paradigms.

Light triggers critical physiological and psychological responses within human beings. And, since most of us spend the majority of our lives in the built environment, the level and quality of light within these buildings has real implications for our health and wellness. Luckily, today’s architect is armed with sophisticated structural options that allow for more lighting choices than at any point in architecture’s history. In today’s design world, it is no longer a question of whether to design with light in mind, but how to design with light in mind. As we become more aware of light’s implications on our physiological and psychological selves, and as technology affords a greater range of options, architects and their partners are left with an increased repertoire to draw from.  As it relates to health and wellness, the key points to consider are the quality, the quantity and the type of light being delivered within the space. 

Consider first how light comes into play in a health-oriented society. Many functions necessary for growth and well being such as breathing, sleeping, blood pressure, body temperature, appetite, moods, mental acuity, and the immune system are governed by the endocrine system, which is strongly impacted and affected by light, both natural & created by electric sources. There is also evidence suggesting that proper quantities of visually perceived light are needed for healthy functioning of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that controls motivation, learning, and creativity; the limbic system, the part of the brain that stores emotional impressions of the world; and the motor cortex and the brain stem, the parts of the brain that coordinate body movement and the maintenance of life.


2020 PARADIGM SHIFT – Past / Present / Future

  • Is there a Paradigm Shift Coming?
  • Changing technologies
  • New materials
  • New policies


1750 - 2000 timeline


  • Total Penetration of LED Components for the Global Lighting Market is 14.4% [2011]
  • $1.8 Billion/$12.5 Billion

Global Lighting Market


  • 140 lumens/watt 220 lumens/watt
  • Solid state lighting [SSL] will comprise 70% of the global lighting market by 2020

Conventional Lighting / LED Lighting

  • Lack of standards for many components of the led package
  • Reliability of the led package impacts future growth

Manufacturing Costs

Vortices of Energy


  • Traditional Chinese medicine
  • A path through which the life energy “QI” flows to the body
  • 12 principal meridians divided into YIN and YAN groups, each associated with a region of the body



  • In Hindu metaphysical tradition, chakras are centers of life force, or vital energy
  • Respond to vital points on the physical body
  • Used in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism


Geopathic Stress

Geopathic stress occurs where the earth’s electromagnetic field becomes distorted

This can be created by underground streams, sewers, water pipes, electricity, tunnels, mineral formations, and geological faults

Evidence has shown that humans occupying geopathically stressed zones for long periods of time have a higher risk of cancer*

*Dr Hans Nieper, Cancer Specialist

Electromagnetic Radiation

Exposure to human-made electromagnetic fields (EMF) has increased over the past century. The widespread use of EMF sources has been accompanied by public debate about possible adverse effects on human health. As part of its charter to protect public health and in response to these concerns, the World Health Organization (WHO) established the International EMF Project to assess the scientific evidence of possible health effects of EMF in the frequency range from 0 to 300 GHz. The EMF Project encourages focused research to fill important gaps in knowledge and to facilitate the development of internationally acceptable standards limiting EMF exposure.

Public concerns have ranged from possible effects of exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields (e.g. electricity supply including power lines) having frequencies between 0 and 300 Hz to possible effects of exposure to radio-frequency (RF) fields (e.g. microwave ovens and broadcast and other radio-transmission devices including mobile phones) having frequencies in the range 10 MHz – 300 GHz. A large body of scientific research in these two frequency ranges now exists. For the purpose of this document, the intermediate frequency (IF) region of the EMF spectrum is defined as being between the ELF and RF ranges; 300 Hz to 10 MHz. A relatively small number of studies has been conducted on the biological effects or health risks of IF fields. This is due, in part, to the fact that fewer types of devices produce fields in this frequency range. But because these devices now have a high consumer and industrial market penetration, it is important to evaluate their impact on human health. This information sheet addresses the known health effects of IF fields, and offers recommendations for further study.

Common sources of IF fields can be found in the following settings:

• Industry: Dielectric heater sealers, induction and plasma heaters, broadcast and communications transmitters,

• General public: Domestic induction cookers, proximity readers, electronic article surveillance systems and other anti-theft devices, computer monitors and television sets,

• Hospitals: MRI systems, electromagnetic nerve stimulators, electro-surgical units, and other devices for medical treatment,

• Military: Power units, submarine communication transmitters and high frequency (HF) transmitters.

• Except for medical diagnostic and treatment devices, levels of human exposure from IF devices normally fall below limits recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). However, workers in a few categories (e.g. operators of dielectric heater sealers and induction heaters, some military personnel and technicians working near high powered broadcast equipment) may be exposed to considerably higher levels of IF fields. Technicians working near high powered broadcast equipment) may be exposed to considerably higher levels of IF fields.

How EMF Affects the Human Body

• Several mechanisms, both thermal and non-thermal, by which electromagnetic (primarily electric) fields can interact with biological systems are well established. The limiting hazard will arise from the adverse effect (thermal or non-thermal) that has the lowest threshold under given exposure conditions. While strong fields in the upper IF range may cause thermal damage (a relatively slow process that requires tissue to be maintained at high temperatures for a given period of time), some of the most obvious hazards from acute exposure to electric currents in the body may occur through membrane excitation. This non-thermal mechanism results from changes in membrane potential induced by external fields and occurs, for example, in the stimulation of peripheral nerves and muscle cells. Another mechanism is electroporation, which is the reversible or irreversible disruption of cell membranes when a field induces excessive electrical potentials across them. This can provoke tissue injury through electric shock, but is also being investigated for therapeutic purposes by using short electric field pulses to make human tissues more permeable to drugs.

• External IF fields can induce these effects inside the human body but only at field strengths many times higher than typical environmental levels.

Reported Biological and Health Effects

Health benefits from electric and magnetic fields have been claimed since the 18th century, and pulsed EMFs in the IF range have found a place in modern medical practice for the treatment of bone healing and nerve stimulation and regeneration. However, concern has been expressed about possible health hazards associated with technology, both at home and in the workplace. These concerns include worker complaints of disturbances (e.g. swelling, prickling of fingers, headaches) and public anxiety about possible adverse health effects of IF fields from computer monitors and televisions. Types of research conducted so far have included:

Human studies: Until now, most epidemiological studies concerning IF exposure have focused on reproductive and ocular effects from the use of computer monitors. Several major reviews have concluded that these, with their extremely weak IF fields, do not constitute a threat to human health and that they do not interfere with reproductive processes or pregnancy outcomes. Also, no association between such exposure and eye abnormalities has been established. A large study on female radio and telegraph operators showed a slight increased risk of breast cancer. However, this group of workers is also exposed to many other factors that could explain this increased risk. The high degree of biological variability and the multitude of EMF parameters make it difficult to reach firm conclusions about the significance of any of these studies for human health. Some of the most important health hazards due to IF sources relate to indirect action of EMF. For example, EMF produced by electronic anti-theft systems may interfere with implanted electronic medical devices (e.g. pacemakers, neurological stimulators).

Laboratory studies: Few reported cellular studies using IF fields have show independently confirmed biological effects. Studies on mice have shown no morbidity, change in behavior or lymphoma development with exposure to low-strength magnetic field signals in the kHz range. Although a few studies of effects on reproduction and development of mice, rats, and chick embryos and a few other studies suggest the possibility of minor skeletal anomalies; overall there is no clear evidence for increased malformations.

Lighting for the Elderly

Lighting for Elderly


The human visual system deteriorates throughout adult life and is considered “young” until it reaches 40 years of age

As the visual system ages:

  • Less light reaches the back of the eyes
  • Pupils decrease in size
  • Lens becomes thicker, so that it absorbs more light


  • AMBIENT LIGHT LEVELS: Should be increased by 50% versus those used for younger people. Ambient levels should be at least 300 lux
  • TASK LIGHTING: Light levels should be at least 1000 lux on task areas to see fine details
  • CONTRAST: The contrast of objects such as stair edges, curbs, ramps, or doorways should be increased by using paint or other techniques
  • COLOR PERCEPTION: Can be improved by using high illuminance levels and high-quality fluorescent lamps versus incandescent lamps


Between 40-70% of people over 65 suffer from chronic sleep disturbances

Sleep disturbances result from a disruption of the body’s circadian rhythms

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s lighting research center [LRC] have demonstrated that blue light is the most effective at stimulating the circadian system

This light must be combined with the appropriate light intensity, spatial distribution, timing and duration

LRC researchers tested a goggle like device to improve the sleep quality in older adults

A marked increase in daytime lighting levels can counteract the age-dependent losses in retinal light exposure

Sleep Quality of Youth

Light triggers critical physiological and psychological responses within human beings. The level and quality of light within the built environment has real implications on our health and wellness as we become more aware of light’s implications on our health, we have a larger repertoire with which to impact a positive benefit on our health.


  • During the spring, late sunset and extended daylight exposure delays bedtime in teenagers
  • Increased exposure to early evening light delays the onset of nocturnal melatonin
  • Nocturnal melatonin: hormone that indicates to the body when it’s nighttime
  • Combine the delay in sleep with early school hours means many teens experience sleep deprivation, mood changes, increased risk of obesity and under performance at school


  • 16 students were given a daysimeter – a small device to measure an individual’s exposure to daily “circadian light”
  • Circadian light: the potential for light to suppress melatonin synthesis at night not how light stimulates the visual system
  • Experienced a delay in melatonin onset by an average 20 minutes in the spring relative to winter


  • Extended daylight hours due to the seasonal change, not evening electric lighting, had the biggest impact on delayed sleeping patterns
  • The melatonin delay caused an average of 16 minute delay in reported sleep onset and a 15 minute average reduction in reported sleep duration during the spring
  • The lrc recommends that teenagers increase morning daylight exposure throughout the year and decrease evening daylight exposure during the spring months

Lighting Control Systems

A lighting control system consists of a device that controls electric lighting and devices, alone or as part of a daylight harvesting system, for a public, commercial, or residential building or property, or the theater. Lighting control systems are used for working, aesthetic, and security illumination for interior, exterior, and landscape lighting, and theater stage lighting productions. They are often part of sustainable architecture and lighting design for integrated green building energy conservation programs.

Lighting control systems, with an embedded processor or industrial computer device, usually include one or more portable or mounted keypad or touch screen console interfaces, and can include mobile phone operation. These control interfaces allow users the ability to remotely toggle (on-off) power to individual or groups of lights (and ceiling fans and other devices), operate dimmers, and pre-program space lighting levels. A major advantage of a lighting control system over conventional individual switching is the ability to control any light, group of lights, or all lights in a building from a single user interface device. Any light or device can be controlled from any location. This ability to control multiple light sources from a user device allows complex “light scenes” to be created. A room may have multiple scenes available, each one created for different activities in the room. A lighting scene can create dramatic changes in atmosphere, for a residence or the stage, by a simple button press. In landscape design, in addition to landscape lighting, fountain pumps, water spa heating, swimming pool covers, motorized gates, and outdoor fireplace ignition; can be remotely or automatically controlled.

Lighting control systems provide the ability to automatically power a device based on:

• Chronological time (time of day)

• Astronomical time (sunrise/sunset)

• Room or outdoor space occupancy (motion sensors)

• Presence of daylight (lighting costs and energy conservation,and daylight harvesting)

• Events

• Alarm conditions

• Program logic (any combination of events)

Chronological time is a specific time of day as pre-set timers use. Astronomical times includes sunrise, sunset, a specific day of the week or days in a month or year. Room occupancy might be determined with motion detectors or RFID tags, and is part of security and energy conservation programs. Artificial lighting energy use can be reduced by automatically dimming and/or switching electric lights in response to the level of daylighting, a technology known as daylight harvesting. Mobile phone operated controls can turn on a basic group of circulation—safety fixtures serving exterior—interior locations on approach, or to preheat a “water spa” in advance of returning. Events might include special fixtures for social occasions and holiday lighting, or overall brightness for cleaning. Alarm conditions can include doors opening and motion detected in a protected area, or manual “panic buttons-all lights on” for occupants sensing a possible intrusion. Program logic can tie all of the above elements together using constructs such as if-then-else statements and logical operators.

Color Mixing and Connotations


  • Mixing colors of light
  • In absence of color the result is black
  • Presence of all three primaries is white


  • Mixing colors pigment / CMYK
  • Absence of color is white
  • Presence of all three primaries is black

Color Mixing

How the color black affects us physically and mentally?

  • Feeling inconspicuous
  • A restful emptiness
  • Mysterious evoking a sense of potential and possibility


How the color gray affects us physically and mentally?

  • Unsettling
  • Expectant

Stormy Sky


  • The color seen by the eye in perfect darkness
  • Eigengrau is perceived as lighter than a black object in normal
  • Lighting conditions, because contrast is more important to the
  • Visual system than absolute brightness.



  • Aids mental clarity
  • Encourages us to clear clutter or obstacles
  • Evokes purification of thoughts or actions
  • Enables fresh beginnings



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