Quinn Evans Awarded Grant from AIA Upjohn Research Initiative

Kristina von Tish, CPSM, LEED Green Associate
Kristina von Tish
CPSM, LEED Green Associate
June 17, 2024
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In collaboration with researchers from the University of Oregon, we will develop guidance for circadian health in existing buildings.
An interior photo of an open office space in a historic building.
An open office plan and light-colored finishes improved access to circadian daylight at Richmond's Old City Hall, a National Historic Landmark.

A Quinn Evans–University of Oregon team has been awarded a grant from the AIA Upjohn Research Initiative to study design for circadian health in existing buildings.

The grant project, titled “A Research-Informed Guide to Circadian Lighting Design in Existing Buildings,” will produce a user-friendly design guide for professionals seeking to implement circadian health goals in existing buildings. Our research team consists of Julia Siple, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Denise Gravelle, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, and Thalia Chrousos, AIA, Fitwell Amb., from Quinn Evans, along with Siobhan Rockcastle, PhD, from the University of Oregon’s Baker Lighting Lab and Alen Mahić from its Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory.

Scientists have long known that daylight is crucial for maintaining healthy circadian rhythms, which influence our alertness, immune response, metabolism, and sleep cycles. Because the average person spends 90% of their time indoors, architects strive to ensure that building users have access to natural light (a practice called daylighting). However, a growing body of research shows that not all daylighting is created equal; the amount of daylight, its position relative to the human eye, and the time of day it’s provided matter for circadian health.

Current sustainability certification standards for circadian daylighting are difficult to achieve in new construction, much less within the constraints of existing buildings. We aim to show that it is possible to make significant circadian daylighting improvements in existing buildings—including designated historic buildings.

Our project will produce a design guide including a multi-step decision tree providing best-practice solutions for a range of existing building constraints, as well as a series of case studies demonstrating how we’ve modified existing buildings for improved circadian health.

Administered by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Upjohn Research Initiative supports applied research projects that enhance the value of design and professional practice knowledge. Upjohn grant recipients’ research findings and outcomes are publicly available online for all to learn from.

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