Fred Maxik, one of the world’s foremost experts in lighting, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Lighting Science Group, North America’s largest developer and manufacturer of ground-breaking LED bulbs and lighting systems chats with Betsy Scott about the use of lighting in our homes and built environment.
He began studying lighting in the built environment and its impact on our health and wellbeing when he was with NASA and has served as a key partner for the WHIT.
Many thanks to our partners at the University of Denver for their editing and post-production talents, specifically Lija Miller and Lisette Zamora-Galarza.
The University of Denver Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management, teaches the full life cycle of the built environment. From integrated project leadership skills to a cohesive understanding of the built environment ––experience the only school of its kind!
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Speaker 1 (00:06):
You're listening to the housing innovation Alliance podcast in partnership with the university of Denver's Franklin L burns school of real estate and construction management. The housing innovation Alliance is a nationwide community of game changers driving the future of home delivery through crowd accelerated innovation. We represent thought leaders from Burt to dweller with a focus on the production builders business environment.
Speaker 2 (00:33):
Hi, I'm Betsy Scott with the housing innovation Alliance. We're in the midst of our healthy home series, bringing you insights from builders, designers, technology, experts, and others on how to deliver healthier homes and communities. I'm excited and honored to be sitting here today with Fred Maksik. One of the world's foremost experts in lighting. He is the founder and chief technology officer of lighting sciences group, North America's largest developer and manufacturer of groundbreaking led bulbs and lighting systems. He began studying lighting in the built environment and its impact on our health and wellbeing when he was with NASA and has served as a key partner for the wit a living lab home focused on innovation, technology and wellness within Tavistock development. It's Lake Nona community in Orlando, Florida. Welcome Fred. Thank you. Thank you. So just to kick things off, why do you think lighting is so important to people's health and wellbeing?
Speaker 3 (01:31):
Well, we formed, uh, as diurnal creatures. Uh, our biology is programmed by the light around us. It regulates our metabolism, our physiology, our sleeping wake cycles, our, our mental health. And so when we simply go into an environment and flip a switch on, because life has become so ubiquitous around us, we don't necessarily consider anymore how that evolution took place, how our biology is pre-programmed. And I think getting back to understanding how that affects us, our health, our wellness, our attitudes, our psychology, uh, is very important than any environment and particularly the built environment we spend so much money.
Speaker 2 (02:07):
Absolutely. So how did you get interested in the lighting space?
Speaker 3 (02:11):
So I I've been fascinated by lighting since I was a child. Um, I, I think I tell this story often enough, but I, I recall, uh, maybe it's an eight or nine-year-old taking this, this silver flashlight and shining it through my hand and looking through my hand and looking at everything inside and the fact that light permeates our bodies, um, and allows us to see these types of phenomenon. See the, how, how we're made has always fascinated me from, from childhood. I got reintroduced to it about 20 years ago. Um, through some work we were doing with, with NASA and, and looking at how we use light to mitigate or moderate or control our circadian regulation, you know, astronauts go around the earth and the space station every 90 minutes and they are, they're in complete disarray and they've created this entirely light centric dystopia around how we program ourselves. Um, and, and so part of the project was how do we figure out how we make a link that can be utilized to reorient ourselves to, to give us the right signal of about when we're supposed to be awake the right signal before we're supposed to go to bed. And that really sparked my interest in the field.
Speaker 2 (03:19):
Great, fascinating. So the whip house has been a great venue for demonstrating healthy home technologies and driving innovation. So what were your priorities for lighting in the home and what are the key takeaways you would share with our community?
Speaker 3 (03:33):
So when is a fabulous project and the folks at Tavistock who helped put it together, it's just really, to me visionary about where are we going to go in the future with our housing, really letting us attempt to install things. And sometimes even a bit prematurely, try to use technology before they're ready for prime time and understand how people can interact with them. But to me, there was probably, I mean, four or five major elements who tried to put into, into a house on one was this idea about circadian regulation. You know, when we turn the light on, before we go to bed, we are sending our brains through the Supercars mag nucleus and our receptors in our eyes. Uh, the signal that says wake up and because we're sending out, wake up signal, our, our hormone regulation is changing. We're affecting the way our bodies make melatonin.
Speaker 3 (04:17):
We're affecting the way we get to sleep. We're interrupting our ability to get the deep sleep we're interrupted on building our brains to heal at night. So the first thing was to change the lighting, such that we don't do that such, that we create a natural environment based on our, our dynamic programming to, to do that. And that was the first project. That's a Woodhouse. So if you go through the bedrooms and the house, you go through the, the, so the public space areas and Woodhouse, they all have this circadian lighting, um, that no, we make it at healthy lighting, which is the subsidiary of lighting science. That's been set up to do that. Um, secondly is around sustainability. It's around resilience. It's around how we utilize all these new things, but consume less power, consume less energy, um, cause less resources. So everything there is made with less material than what proceeded it and everything there is made with a very, very energy conscious bent to it as well.
Speaker 3 (05:03):
The third piece is, is grow. Um, you know, it is wonderful to be able to grow our own food. It is be able to grow our plants healthy. So, so lighting that deals with those elements are, are very important to us. Then we look at security when you walk into it house, there's a light under which we walk that tells us about the traffic flow within that space. It tells us about who's entering the space and we can do this with light by measuring time of flights in areas without having necessarily to have cameras, all shooting our environment. We can take a lot of this data. We can derive through time of flight and tell how the space is being utilized, how people coming in and coming out where the doors are left, open and all sorts of other information that becomes interesting to our tour security and how we utilize our space.
Speaker 3 (05:45):
And then lastly, and probably now most importantly, how we clean our space. And so today we're told to use wipes and to use alcohol and use all these potential toxins to clean our space. The fact is that that can do that without introducing those toxins. We've known for, you know, eight or nine decades that that UV light can disrupt. Um, bacteria can disrupt pathogens, can disrupt viruses by, uh, effecting the genetic material so that can't reproduce. So when you look at kitchen counter tops, or you look at bathrooms areas where you're cleaning constantly today and introducing all sorts of things into your environment, you can suddenly aluminate these with light and have them clean for you. And that's also on demonstration Woodhouse on the news piece of the technology was, was putting that the, the front room with house. And that was looking at a 222 nanometer light, which is a very, very specialized form of UV light called far UBC.
Speaker 3 (06:34):
And this is a light that actually is you've been friendly. We can, co-exist in S in same space with that light when it's being projected into the space, but it can not penetrate the human skin. It can not penetrate the human eye, so it can be on, in the same space. We, we utilize, uh, in, in a very helpful way to make that environment. One that is, um, highly resilient when things are around us are, are there in contagious. So those are the, are the other main areas. And those are all on demonstration inside house.
Speaker 2 (07:00):
That's fascinating. And I've read several things about what you guys are doing, and certainly it's come up in conversation with us in terms of UV, light being safe. So it's great to hear that there's that bandwidth that we can use. I've also seen things about what you're doing with healthy in indoor air filtration and pest control and things like that. So there are opportunities beyond some of the things that may have been, you know, part of that original design plan, even that we're seeing come forward recently as well. So what's some of the newer stuff that you're looking at in the lighting space.
Speaker 3 (07:36):
There are so many intersections between light and life in general. We know that there are certain light frequencies, light spectrum wavelengths that can have different effects on various types of pests. Some that will track them some that will distract them. Some of that will make them less likely to inhabit a space. And so we're interested in that. We know that there is light that will have other health and wellness has consequences on us. There are certain lights we can eliminate ourselves with and change our, our, our circulation in our body that we create vasodilation, the people who have got poor circulation, poor heart health, there are lights that how our eyes grow, uh, when we're children. So there there's, there's a whole host of areas. We will continue to discover and continue to build out products on. And I think this is really how we look at the future because light can be a very good ally for us to live a healthy and well life.
Speaker 3 (08:25):
Uh, but also in taking out some of these other toxins, we're trying to continuously use to do that in other forms. So I think the promise is there, the knowledge is there and it's really a bit of a rediscovery, right? I, I think when we go back hundreds of hundreds of years ago, there was a, a profound, respectful light is solar light. And over time, and in the last 150, 160 years, uh, since a man has, I would say, or thought he had conquered light, right? And we, we, we harnessed it all right. Um, we didn't necessarily realize what we've done. And, and unfortunately, uh, after we harnessed the F we managed to capture it in the bold, we kept trying to refine it, but the refinements we made were almost solely for our visual and energy efficiency. We didn't consider some of these other physiological affects or environmental effects of it.
Speaker 3 (09:16):
And I think now we are just now rediscovering those environmental effects that are y'all are our great, great, great, great grandparents knew about all the time, but we are now rediscovering that benefit again. And that's really an interesting piece because in today's digital lighting technology era, we have the ability to discreetly add or subtract the various wavelengths to light in our environment without any visual perception at all. And we can now look at all these other potential utilizations in terms of a membrane health, in terms of cardiac or physiological health in terms of our circadian health. And this is, this is what the future will bring us.
Speaker 2 (09:53):
That is awesome. And fascinating. One last question for you. So you mentioned a number of other applications for light that can help drive both better health for the individual and better health within spaces. If you were helping a home builder or developer incorporate lighting into their healthy living strategy today, what features and quality of life benefits would you focus on?
Speaker 3 (10:18):
I, I think th the three areas that to me are obvious are our circadian health for London. There's no reason we would put in someone's bedroom, light sources that we know will disrupt their ability to sleep at night. It just doesn't make sense. We have the technology, it is completely automated. There's no requirement for interaction. You flip the light switch on, like you've always done in the past, and it will just work. And so within healthy, we have that type of product today, and it fits perfectly in, in, in bedrooms and in homes. The secondary is I would take a serious look at light for disinfecting surfaces, kitchens, bathrooms, any place where you're, you're prone to bring another toxin into, to try to clean it. Let's use a naturally of cleaning those, those areas out. And I think that's a reasonably obvious way. The third way is looking at how, like interacted with our air systems.
Speaker 3 (11:11):
We ha we are faced today with a pathogen that is an airborne pathogen for the most part. Uh, we seen some people put UV into a main HPAC systems. I think that's a step in the right direction, but there's things that we could do more locally, both with filtration, mechanical filtration, uh, as well as light that will ensure that the environment we are living in is one where we can breathe healthy air, uh, without, again, having to add toxins and to do that without having huge maintenance schedules to do that. I think those are the three years within a home today, I think are obvious, uh, time will tell on some of these other areas, but I think this idea of circulatory and BrainHealth and what will come fairly soon after, I don't think those here today, but,
Speaker 1 (11:54):
Um, keep your eyes out. Those, those will come soon.
Speaker 2 (11:57):
Well, that's great. We do have a lot of people who are looking at, you know, on that front people wanting to stay within their homes and boomers, certainly being one of the biggest home buying contingents at this point. And they're looking a lot more aggressively at health within their home. So I absolutely would see that certainly on their end and the more that we can do to make the home supportive to our quality of life, the better. So I really appreciate your time today and, um, all of your insights. And for those of you who are listening, who do community development as well, there are a lot of fascinating stories about what lighting sciences group and healthy technologies are doing in the space. Things that you might want to look at in your community areas, in your, you know, your, uh, community gathering spaces, your co-work areas, et cetera, if that's something that you offer in your community, but thanks so much for your time and excited to share this with everyone. Thank you So much.
Speaker 1 (12:53):
On behalf of the housing innovation Alliance and the university of Denver. This is Dr. Eric Holt. Thank you for being part of our journey. This is where innovation calls home.