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Energy, Environment, and Smart Systems

New Citizen Science Tools Enable First Sociological Analysis of Lead Residue in Soil

An ongoing project is helping people identify lead and arsenic pollution and enabling a novel approach to sociological research. Abby Kinchy, professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, describes her research approach as “ethnographic soil testing” — a novel method for studying how people encounter environmental hazards, reason through exposure risks, and take action to improve the health of their communities.

Why LED Bulbs Don’t Always Live Up to the Hype About Their Life Spans

When LED lightbulbs supplanted old-fashioned Edisons, it was with a promise of greater energy efficiency and remarkable longevity.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs use at least 75% less power than incandescent bulbs and last up to 25 times longer.

But it’s not clear how long the modern lights last outside of ideal laboratory conditions, and in certain circumstances, they might not outlive the traditional bulbs they bumped off the shelf.

These cozy dining cabins are made from hundreds of plastic bottles

On the street outside Peaches Kitchen & Bar in Brooklyn, New York, two translucent outdoor dining structures are now standing like oversized glowing lanterns. Like the outdoor dining spaces of other restaurants across the city and around the world, these structures popped up quickly during the pandemic. But unlike these other facilities, the structures outside Peaches are made out of interlocking plastic bottles.

Rensselaer Welcomes Congressional Bipartisan Discussion on the Future of Energy

Faculty from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute served as experts in an exchange of information about developments in the field of sustainable energy, large-scale environmental change, and innovative and interdisciplinary research into energy storage and smart systems in the built environment on a recent visit by two members of the U.S. Congress.

Better Daytime Lighting Improves Sleep Quality, Reduces Depression In Alzheimer's Patients, Study Finds

Memory loss from Alzheimer’s can evoke fear. But for many people suffering from dementia, other symptoms like poor sleep and agitation can also have a profound impact on quality of life. And Alzheimer’s patients often live in long-term care facilities, where they spend much of their time in underlit indoor spaces, says researcher Mariana Figueiro, leaving them in a state of “biological darkness.”

Tailored Light Improves Quality of Life for Older Adults With Alzheimer’s Disease

In a research project funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Mariana Figueiro, a professor and the director of the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is investigating whether a tailored lighting intervention can lessen the impact of symptoms in older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).

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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,600 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.