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DOE is focused on identifying opportunities for the optimi­zation of tunable lighting systems -- from analyzing data collected by the lighting system, to furthering understanding of how occupants use tunable lighting controls -- and making sure that LED technology reaches its full potential for energy savings and other benefits, such as improved control and quality. At the same time, growing interest in human health in the built environment is leading building owners and occupants to seek healthier buildings. This trend has aligned with rapid advances in LED technology, allowing for more control of light in the built environment than ever before. DOE is engaging with the researchers investigating biological response to light, to advance our understanding of the visual and nonvisual response of building occupants to various aspects of advanced lighting systems. Much of the existing research has occurred in controlled laboratory environments, and DOE seeks to better understand this relationship in realistic settings.

Interior photo of a behavioral health unit, with assorted chairs and lots of windows.
Healthcare Studies

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

PATIENT ROOMS

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 (in progress)

PNNL is collaborating with Georgia Tech to understand responses of nurses and patients to traditional, contemporary, and future patient room lighting. The study involves 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.

University of Kentucky’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (in progress)

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.  

SENIOR CARE 

Wisconsin Senor Care Centers

PNNL is partnering with a lighting nonprofit, Energy Performance Lighting, and Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine to evaluate the lighting systems in four senior care facilities. The evaluation, which looks at two care centers with tunable lighting systems and two care centers with fluorescent lighting systems, aims to gain a better understanding of the potential of tunable lighting system upgrades.

Lighting in Senior Care Centers: Comparing Tunable LED Systems to Conventional Lighting Systems in Four Care Centers (pending publication)

ACC Care Center in Sacramento, California

PNNL is partnering with ACC Care Center, Brown University, and the Center for Design for an Aging Society to understand occupant response to a new advanced hallway lighting system that changes in color temperature and intensity over a 24-hour cycle. The study examines whether these lighting changes affect physiological, cognitive, behavioral, and psychological well-being of the aging occupant population. This study builds on 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) 

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

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

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. 

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)

SIMULATIONS

Energy Impacts of Circadian Metrics

PNNL is evaluating 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)

Classroom Studies

The growing interest in using tunable LED lighting systems in classrooms has prompted DOE studies that examine the potential impact on student learning, teacher satisfaction, and associated energy use. Similar to healthcare studies, DOE is focused on analyzing data collected by the lighting system, to better understand how teachers use the controls, and to identify opportunities for optimization of the lighting system. 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.

Side-by-side photos of classrooms with tunable LED lighting

CLASSROOMS

Folsom Cordova Unified School District

PNNL partnered with the school district and Sacramento Municipal Utility District to document a trial installation of tunable-white LED lighting systems in three classrooms at an elementary school in Folsom, California. The study focuses on illuminance, estimated energy use, spectral power distribution, and related human response metrics.

Folsom Cordova Classroom Tunable Lighting (GATEWAY report, September 2018)
Lessons in the Classroom (Article, May 2019)

Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District

PNNL partnered with the school district in Carrollton, Texas, to document a trial installation of tunable-white LED lighting systems in three classrooms.

Carrollton-Farmers Classroom Tunable Lighting (GATEWAY report, September 2017)
Carrollton-Farmers Classroom Tunable Lighting (GATEWAY brief, September 2017)
Two That Are Tunable (Article, December 2017)

SIMULATIONS

Energy Impacts of Circadian Metrics

PNNL is evaluating 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)

Related Research

DOE testing of tunable lighting products highlights the variety of approaches used by manufacturers to achieve color tuning, and the challenges involved in understanding, testing, controlling, and specifying these products.

Learn more about evaluating LED color-tunable products.

STUDIES

Dim-to-Warm LED Lighting: Initial Benchmarks (July 2019)

Accelerated Stress Testing of Multi-Source LED Products (March 2018, July 2019)

Photometric Testing of Tunable LED Luminaires (January 2016, August 2018)