Shedding new light on campus

The research enterprise at UMass Medical School has been a bright spot on campus for decades, but now a wing of offices recently renovated for research staff is shedding new light on the workplace.

Opened in May, the offices for the Institutional Review Board (IRB) staff and others within the research administration are lit by light emitting diode (LED) fixtures, not traditional fluorescent fixtures. It’s the first installation of an integrated LED system for offices on campus.

“Because this was a full re-build, where we gutted out the space, it was an opportunity to try the LED system, to see how it performs and see how people react to it,” said Brian Duffy, senior architectural project manager in the school’s Facilities Engineering & Construction department, who oversaw the renovation project.

In combination with new lighting controls, the LED fixtures installed in the research offices are expected to be 30 to 50 percent more energy efficient, and last up to seven years longer than the fluorescent lamps used elsewhere on campus, Duffy said. Furthermore, the LED fixtures are dimmable, so each person can adjust the light in their office to their liking.
 
“I like the light,” said Allison Blodgett, PhD, assistant manager of the IRB. “At first, I was a little concerned about the new space, because it doesn’t have any windows for natural light. But now that we’re here, I think these fixtures are great. The light is bright, and I like the fact that I can adjust them.”

Duffy noted that the LED lighting industry has made significant strides in technology and now offers affordable fixtures that fit into the standard two-foot-square, and two-by-four feet ceiling grids used on campus to make for easy installation.

“The older parabolic light fixtures, like the ones we removed when we built the new research space, were designed to limit glare on CRT computer screens, which is why the bulbs were set up high in a metal grid,” Duffy said. “But today, monitor screens have improved significantly and glare isn’t really an issue, so we are able to use more efficient high-output fixtures that allow us to spread light more evenly throughout the spaces we design.”