Light Beyond Vision

Day and Night in Building Science and Chronobiology: How the buildings we inhabit could take advantage of daylight—both to keep human occupants comfortable and healthy, and also to optimize energy efficiency. The third event in our series on light.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


February 17, 2014 from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)

Natural light helps keep our bodies in tune with the external cycle of day and night, the so-called circadian system, and therefore with the world around us. For many, sunlight is a cue to wake, while darkness leads us toward sleep.

It is important, then, that the buildings we inhabit take full advantage of daylight—both to keep human occupants comfortable and healthy, and also to optimize energy efficiency.

For the third event in our series on light, swissnex San Francisco brings Jean-Louis Scartezzini and Mirjam Münch, from the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory at EPFL, to present their experiences with daylighting research and technology. Their work illustrates possible integration steps toward optimized “Day and Night” lighting environments with respect to energy consumption and human health.

Marilyne Andersen, associate professor in the Building Technology Program of MIT’s Department of Architecture and head of the Daylighting Lab, also joins the discussion with an overview of her efforts to better integrate energy-efficiency and human-responsiveness to daylighting into architecture and design.


6:30 pm doors open
7:00 pm Jean-Louis Scartezzini and Mirjam Münch
7:45 pm Marilyne Andersen
8:10 pm Q & A, reception and networking
9:30 pm doors close


Maryline Andersen

Marilyne Andersen is an Associate Professor in the Building Technology Group of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, which she joined in 2004, and is also the chair holder of the Mitsui Career Development Professorship. Trained as a physicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland, she went on to specialize in daylighting and complete her PhD at EPFL in the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory after having spent a year as a Visiting Scholar in the Building Technologies department of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Her inter-disciplinary research interests on the use and optimization of daylight in buildings led her to work across the boundaries of architecture, physics, and environmental concerns. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she supervises thesis work for undergraduate and graduate students in architecture, building technology, and mechanical engineering. She is currently working on projects related to advanced glazing and shading systems, visual and thermal comfort, the implications of light on health from a design standpoint, and the visualization of daylighting performance and metrics in architectural design.


Mirjam Münch

Mirjam Münch joined the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory at EPFL, in Switzerland, as a post-doctoral research fellow in 2009 to help bridge the fields of architecture and building science with those of chronobiology and circadian rhythms. She studies the effects of daylight on humans and searches for new ways to integrate this knowledge in applied settings help optimize light conditions in the workplace and at home. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, and a master’s degree from the University of Zurich. She studied neurobiology at the University of Basel, investigating the circadian and homeostatic effects of age and monochromatic light on human sleep, then moved to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, where she was further trained in sleep research and chronobiology.


Jean-Louis Scartezzini

Professor Scartezzini heads the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory at EPFL. His broad scope of research includes passive and active solar technology, building energy simulation, air infiltration and ventilation, stochastic simulation methods in solar energy and predictive control, as well as daylighting technology. He founded the Institute of Infrastructures, Resources and Environment (ICARE), as well as the EPFL Doctoral Programme in Environment. He is the author of more than 200 scientific publications, a member of several federal and international expert panels, and associate editor of international scientific journals in the field of solar energy and building physics. Scartezzini holds an MSc in physical engineering from EPFL, a Licence ès Sciences in geophysics from University of Lausanne, and a Ph.D. in Physics from EPFL. In 1988, he was a visiting scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He headed the Swiss Solar Energy Society (SSES) from 1987 to 1995 and was a member of the Swiss Federal Experts Committee for Solar Energy from 1987 to 1998.

This event is produced by swissnex San Francisco and part of the U.S.-wide program ThinkSwiss-Brainstorm the Future. As a leading country in science, research, and technology, Switzerland is working with its American counterparts to address key global topics such as sustainability to better understand trends and arrive at solutions.



Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos