Building Energy Efficiency, Ergonomics and Management (BEEEAM) Laboratory
The Building Energy Efficiency, Ergonomics and Management (BEEEAM) Lab in the NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology was established to research issues related to light. The laboratory focuses on three primary areas of research:
Factors of lighting such as flicker, glare and the the color spectrum can have physiological impacts on humans and animals - impacts that can affect behavior and ability to perform. In particular, as LED lighting gains popularity, we need to consider how the blue light from LEDs impacts the body differently than the red-orange light of incandescent bulbs. We are researching and developing lighting control systems that take these factors into account.
Future systems could include intelligent buildings that can guide a visitor to the right office, identify unoccupied conference rooms, summon elevators, track valuable assets such as medical equipment and adjust indoor air quality and lighting levels based on a room's occupancy.
It can be difficult to quantify how a person's performance is affected by lighting as light perception can vary widely depending on the observer and application. We are developing ways to accurately test control systems and measure human performance, including productivity under various lighting conditions.
Guidelines for performance testing and reporting of color-tunable luminaires have not yet been fully developed and applied in the lighting industry. NIU codesigned next-generation intelligent luminaires capable of supporting Internet of Things (IoT) and smart grid requirements.
The California Energy Commission estimates lighting accounts for about 22 percent of energy consumption in residential buildings and about 35 percent in commercial structures. Federal and state governments have introduced standards and regulations mandating changes in lighting efficiency. More standards may be introduced in response to a growing body of evidence that exposure to light at night has an adverse effect on the human body - for example, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that night shift work is "probably carcinogenic to humans."
These issues are driving the illumination industry to explore lighting systems with occupancy sensing, daylight harvesting technology, enhanced connectivity and intelligent building controls.
BEEEAM is currently working with the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation (ISEIF) on a consumer outreach program to educate consumers about energy efficiency and electrical smart meters. Through the Creating Your Excellent Future Using Smart Meters program, Kevin Martin, Ph.D of the NIU Department of Technology delivers engaging talks and hands-on demonstrations using a scale-model smart house.