The study of tunable LED lighting in healthcare settings is expanding our experience base as we learn more about the response of staff and patients to tunable lighting systems, as well as the effect on energy use. Similar to classroom studies, DOE is focused on analyzing data collected by the lighting system, understanding how occupants use the controls, and identifying opportunities for optimization. DOE seeks to ensure that advanced lighting technologies reach their full potential for energy savings and other benefits, such as improved control and quality.

Studies conducted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) seek to document and evaluate existing conditions, conduct photometric and colorimetric field measurements, perform comprehensive reviews of installed lighting systems, design and analyze surveys for pre- and post-installation evaluations, and perform energy analysis of lighting systems, including how circadian metric criteria may affect energy consumption.

Three side-by-side photos of healthcare settings with tunable LED lighting


Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon

PNNL partnered with four hospitals in the Legacy Health system to evaluate patient room lighting effects on nurses.

Nurses' Satisfaction with Patient Room Lighting Conditions (Journal article, January 2020)
Patient Rooms Transition: “Contemporary” Makes Way for the “Future” (Article, June 2020) 
Lighting Control in Patient Rooms: Understanding Nurses’ Perceptions of Hospital Lighting Using Qualitative Methods (Journal article, August 2020) 

Georgia Tech SimTigrate Patient Room Study

PNNL collaborated with Georgia Tech to understand responses of nurses and patients to traditional, contemporary, and future patient room lighting. The study involved a controlled experiment using the Signify patient room lighting system that was developed in part with DOE funding and installed in the university’s SimTigrate Design Lab. 

Lighting the Patient Room of the Future: Evaluating Different Lighting Conditions from the Patient Perspective (Journal article, November 2021)
Lighting the Patient Room of the Future: Evaluating Different Lighting Conditions for Performing Typical Nursing Tasks (Journal article, November 2020)

University of Kentucky’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

The University of Kentucky is the focus of a collaboration with PNNL, HGA Architects and Engineers, Pivotal Lighting, and Lutron, to understand occupant response to older lighting systems versus a new SSL system with controls and automatic color temperature changes during the day.  

Lighting System Control Data to Improve Design and Operation: Tunable Lighting System Data from NICU Patient Rooms (Journal article, May 2022)
Smart Lighting Controls Primed for Data Mining (Article, April 2022)
Using Occupant Interaction with Advanced Lighting Systems to Understand Opportunities for Energy Optimization: Control Data from a Hospital NICU (Journal article, November 2021)


Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) and Portland VA Hospital

PNNL partnered with OHSU and VA medical and healthcare researchers to better understand response to tunable lighting in the homes of senior citizens. The research was limited due to the pandemic, but the protocol will inform the implementation of future clinical intervention trials using light therapy in patients at risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease and related conditions.

Tunable White Light for Elders (TWLITE): A Protocol Demonstrating Feasibility and Acceptability for Deployment, Remote Data Collection, and Analysis of a Home-Based Lighting Intervention in Older Adults (Journal article, July 2022)

Wisconsin Senior Care Centers

PNNL partnered with Energy Performance Lighting and the Midwest Lighting Institute to evaluate the lighting systems in four senior care facilities. The evaluation, which looked at two care centers with tunable lighting systems and two care centers with fluorescent lighting systems, aimed to gain a better understanding of the potential of LED tunable lighting system upgrades.

Lighting in Senior Care Centers: Comparing Tunable LED Systems to Conventional Lighting Systems in Four Senior Care Centers (Report, March 2022)

ACC Care Center in Sacramento, California

PNNL partnered with ACC Care Center, Brown University, and the Center for Design for an Aging Society to understand occupant response to an advanced hallway lighting system that changes in color temperature and intensity over a 24-hour cycle. The study examined whether these lighting changes affect physiological, cognitive, behavioral, and psychological well-being of the aging occupant population. This study followed a prior DOE study of tunable lighting at the Center.

Measuring Light Exposure and its Effects on Sleep and Behavior in Care Center Residents (GATEWAY report, November 2019)
Impact of Tuned Lighting on Skilled Nursing Center Residents’ Sleep (Journal article, October 2020)
ACC Care Center (GATEWAY report, August 2016)
ACC Care Center (GATEWAY brief, August 2016)
ACC Care Center Video (August 2016)
ACC Care Center Webinar (October 2016)
Tuning the Light in a Senior Care Facility (Article, October 2016) 


Boulder Community Health (BCH) Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit (IBHU)

PNNL is joining forces with BCH and design specialists Boulder Associates to study responses by IBHU staff and patients to an old fluorescent lighting system versus a new advanced SSL system with controls and automatic change in color temperature throughout the day. 

Evaluating Occupant Light Exposure and Usage Patterns in an Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit (Journal article, March 2023)

Swedish Medical Behavioral Health Unit

PNNL partnered with the Seattle-based facility and ZGF Architects LLP to evaluate tunable lighting that would meet design goals addressing circadian and other biological and behavioral effects.   

Swedish Medical Behavioral Health Unit (GATEWAY report, August 2017)
Swedish Medical Behavioral Health Unit (GATEWAY brief, August 2017)
Two That Are Tunable (Article, December 2017)


Energy Impacts of Circadian Metrics

PNNL evaluated how well available software tools model light spectrum and intensity within the built environment. These tools are also being used to understand how designing for circadian metrics affects lighting energy consumption in multiple space types.

Energy Impact of Human Health and Wellness Lighting Recommendations for Office and Classroom Applications (Journal article, August 2020)