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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Future Proofing the Food Supply

The field of specialized LED lighting for horticulture is growing rapidly. LED lighting can aid in year-round local produce production, water conservation and optimized plant growth rates and nutritional value through careful spectrum management. Photo credit: Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA)

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February 24, 2017

Future Proofing the Food Supply

Acuity Brands signs research project with Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, N.Y. — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has signed a sponsored research agreement with Acuity Brands Lighting, the leading North American supplier of LED-based lighting solutions. As part of this project, the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) will develop light protocols for specialized LED lighting with integrated feedback for efficient plant growth.

“Our program creates opportunities to study, develop, and bring solutions to market that improve health, productivity, and well-being for people, as well as plants and the food ecosystem,” said Robert F. Karlicek Jr., LESA director, who also serves as a professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer. “Acuity Brands is the leading innovator in solid-state lighting technologies and applications, and we are excited to be working with them to develop LED solutions that will enhance and accelerate crop automation, while delivering greater energy savings.”

“These are exciting times. We are witnessing a radical change in the role lighting plays in bringing intelligence and connectivity not only to traditional indoor and outdoor spaces, but also now to controlled environment agriculture,” said Justin Moon, director of marketing at Acuity Brands Lighting. “We are thrilled to bring our expertise in lighting science and technology to this significant LESA project and to support this growing and important industry.”

The field of specialized LED lighting for horticulture is growing rapidly, and will continue to be a major technology for controlled environment agriculture in greenhouses and plant factories. LED lighting can aid in year-round local produce production, water conservation, and optimized plant growth rates and nutritional value through careful spectrum management. This project will be led by LESA’s plant physiologist, Tessa Pocock, who has extensive experience in advanced LED lighting systems and biosensing technology for plant growth.

“We are excited to be working with Acuity Brands on this project. Lighting is an extremely powerful tool for optimizing plant growth and nutritional quality,” said Pocock. As a research partner and LESA industry member, Acuity Brands will support the organization’s exploration of advanced spectral control systems for optimized, automated plant growth processes.

LESA’s vision is focused on creating digitized illumination for new applications in lighting, healthcare, building management, horticulture, and advanced 5G wireless communications platforms. The research at LESA further exemplifies The New Polytechnic, an emerging paradigm for teaching, learning, and research at Rensselaer. The New Polytechnic emphasizes and supports collaboration across disciplines, sectors, and regions to address the great global challenges of our day, using the most advanced tools and technologies, many of which are developed at Rensselaer. Research at Rensselaer addresses some of the world’s most pressing technological challenges—from energy security and sustainable development to biotechnology and human health. The New Polytechnic is transformative in the global impact of research, in its innovative pedagogy, and in the lives of students at Rensselaer.

About the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) ERC

Funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the LESA Engineering Research Center (ERC) is an interdisciplinary, multi-university center developing “Smart Lighting Systems that See and ThinkTM”.  The center engages faculty members, graduate students, research staff, and undergraduates to work on research leading to smart lighting systems with adaptive and controllable properties that will change the way society uses lighting. The center joins academia, industry, and government in partnership to produce transformational engineered systems, along with engineering graduates who are adept at innovation and primed for leadership in the global economy. The LESA ERC is headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and partners with Boston University, the University of New Mexico, and Thomas Jefferson University to achieve its objectives. http://lesa.rpi.edu

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. For nearly 200 years, Rensselaer has been defining the scientific and technological advances of our world. Rensselaer faculty and alumni represent 85 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 17 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 8 members of the National Academy of Medicine, 8 members of the National Academy of Inventors, and 5 members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, as well as a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With over 7,000 students and nearly 100,000 living alumni, Rensselaer is addressing the global challenges facing the 21st century—to change lives, to advance society, and to change the world. To learn more, go to www.rpi.edu.