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Wellness by Design

Embrace Nature and Elevate Your Well-being with Outdoor Technologies from Theautom8group

How staying outdoors can benefit wellbeing and how home technologies such as outdoor music, outdoor lighting, wireless coverage, and outdoor entertainment can help in achieving the goal of staying more outdoors.

In our fast-paced digital world, spending time outdoors has become a rare commodity. However, research increasingly shows that reconnecting with nature can significantly benefit our mental and physical well-being. Fortunately, advancements in home technologies have made it easier than ever to integrate the comforts of modern living with the great outdoors. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore in-depth the myriad benefits of spending more time outdoors and how Theautom8group’s cutting-edge solutions, including motorized shades, high-end lighting, home automation, and audio-video solutions, can help you achieve a harmonious balance between indoor and outdoor living.

The Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors:

Mental Health and Stress Reduction: Stepping outside into nature has a calming effect on our minds. The sight of greenery, the sound of birds chirping, and the fresh air can help reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Nature’s beauty acts as a balm for our restless minds, promoting mindfulness and tranquility. By incorporating outdoor living spaces, such as patios, gardens, or rooftops, into your home design, you can create serene environments that encourage relaxation and rejuvenation.

Enhanced Creativity and Productivity: Nature stimulates our minds and enhances creativity. Whether it’s taking a walk amidst the trees or sitting by a quiet stream, the natural environment can boost cognitive function and problem-solving abilities. Many renowned artists, writers, and thinkers throughout history have credited nature for inspiring their greatest works.

Social Connection: Outdoor spaces naturally foster social interactions, whether it’s a family gathering, a friendly barbecue, or a romantic evening under the stars. These connections contribute to emotional wellbeing and strengthen relationships.

The Transformative Possibilities of Outdoor Living with TheAutom8group

Creating Cinematic Retreats: With Theautom8group’s advanced outdoor TVs, your backyard becomes a captivating open-air cinema. Imagine gathering your friends and family for movie nights under the stars. Theautom8group’s outdoor TVs, inspired by the state-of-the-art designs, deliver stunning visuals, bringing your favorite films and shows to life in an unparalleled way. From action-packed blockbusters to heartwarming classics, every scene takes on a new dimension when accompanied by the gentle rustling of leaves and the soft caress of a summer breeze.

Elevating Outdoor Soundscapes: Delve into a realm of auditory delight with Theautom8group’s outdoor sound systems. Drawing inspiration from the exceptional audio engineering, picture yourself lounging on your patio, enveloped in the soothing melodies of your favorite music. Our sound systems are meticulously designed to disperse even sound coverage, ensuring that every corner of your outdoor space is filled with harmonious tunes. Whether it’s a lively social gathering or a moment of solitary reflection, the symphony of sound resonates perfectly with the natural world around you.

Your Gateway to Outdoor Technology and Wellbeing

Expertise and Innovation: Theautom8group specializes in seamlessly fusing technology with nature, enhancing your outdoor lifestyle through thoughtful design and innovation.

Customized Excellence: Each solution from Theautom8group is customized to match your unique preferences and needs, ensuring your outdoor space becomes an extension of your personal style.

Reliability and Durability: Theautom8group’s outdoor technologies are built to endure the elements, promising lasting performance and reliability for years to come.

Guided Support: Theautom8group’s expert team guides you through every step, from installation to ongoing support, ensuring your outdoor technologies seamlessly enrich your lifestyle.

Conclusion: Where Nature Meets Innovation with Theautom8group

The world outside beckons, offering a tapestry of beauty and tranquility that contributes to your overall well-being. The synthesis of Theautom8group’s advanced outdoor technologies with the splendor of nature opens up limitless possibilities. Outdoor TVs and sound systems allow you to indulge in entertainment, relaxation, and connection, all while embracing the embrace of the great outdoors.

As you step into this harmonious blend of nature and innovation, with the guidance of Theautom8group, you embark on a journey where well-being and technology coexist in perfect harmony. Unleash the potential of your outdoor space, and let it become a sanctuary where you can rejuvenate, connect, and celebrate life under open skies.

Want to know more? Call us at 866.815.0099 or Email info@theautom8group.com

 

Balancing Energy Efficiency and Open Views: Harnessing Solar Shades and Automation for Optimal Conservation 

Welcome to the latest edition of TheAutom8Group newsletter, where we strive to bring you valuable insights and solutions to enhance your home environment. In this edition, we will delve into the importance of window shades in conserving energy and how our exceptional solar shades can achieve this while maintaining open views, vital for your overall wellbeing. We will also shed light on the advantages of choosing automated shades over manual ones, offering you the perfect blend of energy efficiency and a visually stunning home. As always, we take pride in providing professional services in window treatments. Read on to discover why hiring TheAutom8Group will make your home truly exceptional.


The Significance of Window Shades in Energy Conservation:

Window shades play a crucial role in conserving energy and promoting sustainability. Firstly, they act as a barrier between the interior and exterior, providing insulation and temperature regulation. During hot summer months, properly fitted window shades prevent solar heat gain, reducing the need for excessive air conditioning. In contrast, during winter, they offer an additional layer of insulation, minimizing heat loss and optimizing the efficiency of heating systems. By effectively controlling temperature, window shades help reduce energy consumption, leading to lower utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint.

Secondly, window shades allow for the optimization of natural light. By strategically adjusting the shades, homeowners can take advantage of daylight, reducing the reliance on artificial lighting during the day. Maximizing natural light not only saves energy but also creates a more pleasant and productive environment. Choosing window shades that allow for light diffusion, such as Solar shades or sheer curtains, can help minimize glare while maintaining privacy. The combination of reduced artificial lighting and efficient temperature control provided by window shades contributes to overall energy conservation and a greener lifestyle.

 

Solar shades are a remarkable solution that accomplishes both energy efficiency and the preservation of open views, which are crucial for our overall wellbeing. These innovative window coverings are designed to filter sunlight and block harmful UV rays, effectively reducing solar heat gain and maintaining a comfortable indoor environment. By preventing excessive heat from entering, solar shades alleviate the need for constant air conditioning, resulting in lower energy consumption and reduced utility bills. This not only benefits the environment but also aligns with our commitment to sustainability.

What sets solar shades apart is their unique ability to maintain open views while still providing privacy and glare reduction. These shades are crafted with specialized fabrics that allow for light diffusion, enabling natural light to fill the space without harsh glares. At the same time, they preserve privacy by obscuring the view from the outside. This perfect balance allows us to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, connect with nature, and reap the numerous benefits of natural light, such as improved mood, increased productivity, and enhanced overall wellbeing. With solar shades, we can create a harmonious and sustainable living environment that prioritizes energy efficiency and our connection to the outside world.

The Advantages of Automated Shades:

While manual shades provide energy efficiency and privacy, automated shades offer unparalleled convenience and sophistication. Choosing automated shades allows you to take full control of your window treatments with effortless ease. Especially with Lutron automated smart-shades, which seamlessly integrate with cutting-edge home automation systems, automated shades can be operated with a simple touch of a button or a voice command. You also have the power to program your shades to adjust automatically based on your preferences and the changing conditions throughout the day. This ensures the perfect balance of energy efficiency, natural light, and privacy, all at your fingertips.

 

When it comes to creating a truly exceptional home environment, TheAutom8Group is your trusted partner. Our commitment to professionalism and customer satisfaction sets us apart. Here’s why choosing us will elevate your home to new heights:

Expertise: With years of industry experience, our team of experts possesses in-depth knowledge and expertise in window treatments, home automation, audio and video solutions, and lighting systems. We understand the intricacies of creating customized solutions that perfectly fit your needs and style.

Cutting-Edge Technology: As technology enthusiasts, we stay at the forefront of advancements in the industry. By choosing TheAutom8Group, you gain access to state-of-the-art products and solutions that ensure optimal performance, energy efficiency, and seamless integration.

Personalized Approach: We believe in delivering tailored solutions that exceed your expectations. Our team takes the time to understand your unique requirements, design preferences, and budget, ensuring a personalized approach that reflects your vision.

Exceptional Quality: At TheAutom8Group, we take pride in offering top-quality products that are built to last. We partner with reputable brands known for their craftsmanship and durability, ensuring you receive the best value for your investment.

Transform Your Home with TheAutom8Group:

Ready to make your home truly exceptional? Contact TheAutom8Group today to schedule a consultation with our dedicated team. We will work closely with you to design and implement a tailored solution that brings your vision to life. Explore our comprehensive range of window treatments, home automation, audio and video solutions, and lighting systems on our website http://theautom8group.com Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, tips, and exclusive offers.

Want to know more? Call us at 866.815.0099 or email info@theautom8group.com

 

Can sound enhance Wellness?  

Sound is an essential part of our lives, and it can have a significant impact on our well-being. From music to nature sounds, sound can enhance our mood and improve our overall health. In this blog post, we will explore how sound can enhance wellness and the various ways it can be used to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality.


Sound and Wellness

Sound therapy is an ancient practice that has been used for thousands of years to promote healing and relaxation. The idea behind sound therapy is that certain frequencies and vibrations can have a positive impact on the body, mind, and soul. Modern science has confirmed this theory, and many studies have shown the effectiveness of sound therapy for promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

Sound therapy involves using various sound frequencies and vibrations to promote relaxation and reduce stress. This can be done through various methods, including listening to music, meditation, chanting, and using specialized sound equipment.

Music and Wellness

Music is one of the most common forms of sound therapy, and it has been used for centuries to promote wellness. Research has shown that listening to music can have a positive impact on our mood, reduce stress, and even lower blood pressure.

When listening to music, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward. This can lead to feelings of happiness and relaxation. Additionally, music can help distract us from negative thoughts and emotions, providing a welcome escape from stress and anxiety.

Nature Sounds and Wellness

Nature sounds, such as the sound of rain or the ocean waves, can also have a positive impact on our well-being. Research has shown that nature sounds can reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improve sleep quality.

Nature sounds work by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for promoting relaxation and reducing stress. When we listen to nature sounds, our bodies naturally relax, which can lead to feelings of calm and tranquility.

Using Sound to Promote Wellness

There are many ways to use sound to promote wellness, including:

Meditation: Meditation is a powerful tool for promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Many meditation practices involve focusing on the breath or a particular sound, such as a mantra or a singing bowl.

Sound baths: A sound bath is a type of meditation that involves lying down and listening to various sound frequencies and vibrations. This can be done with the help of specialized sound equipment, such as gongs, singing bowls, or tuning forks.

Music therapy: Music therapy involves using music to promote healing and wellness. This can be done through listening to music, playing music, or singing.

Nature walks: Spending time in nature and listening to the sounds of the environment can be a powerful way to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

TheAutom8group specializes in installing audio-video systems and is dedicated to providing high-quality audio and video solutions to their clients, using state-of-the-art technology and innovative design. Our team of experienced technicians can install custom audio-video systems that are tailored to the specific needs of each client, whether it’s for a home theater or a commercial space.

By installing audio-video systems that incorporate sound therapy, TheAutom8group is helping their clients to enhance their wellness and promote relaxation. Whether it’s by installing a custom sound system for a meditation room or creating a home theater that incorporates calming sounds and music, TheAutom8group is committed to helping their clients achieve a sense of calm and well-being.

In conclusion, sound therapy can be a powerful tool for enhancing wellness, and TheAutom8group is a company that is dedicated to helping their clients achieve a sense of calm and well-being through the installation of custom audio-video systems. So, whether you’re looking to reduce stress levels, improve sleep quality, or boost your mood, consider incorporating sound therapy into your daily routine, and contact TheAutom8group to learn more about how they can help you achieve your wellness goals.

Want to know more? Call us at 866.815.0099 or email info@theautom8group.com

Why should every new construction or gut reno include wiring infrastructure for Smart Home?

Modern homes are incorporating smart home technology into every corner and cranny, from appliances to lighting to blinds to thermostats. These gadgets improve the functionality and efficiency of our homes in many ways, but they also clutter up home networks’ bandwidth and slow everything down.
Smart TVs, gaming consoles, computers, tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches are just a few of the connected gadgets competing for network bandwidth in today’s households, even those without a single smart home device. The issue will only worsen if smart home gadget adoption among consumers, which is expanding quickly and consumes even more bandwidth, is taken into account.


If you’re a homebuilder, an architect, interior designer, homeowner, or installer working on new home construction or renovation projects, it’s now critically important to plan for the future needs of tomorrow’s smart homes.

Structured wiring will pave the way for the future.

Every room in a house, or just a few, can have structured wiring installed, which can then be terminated with a choice of wall plates and ports for quick plug-and-play network connections. This makes it possible for homeowners to directly connect more of their gadgets to high-bandwidth cable, such as fiber optic lines. Also, it lessens the load on the Wi-Fi network, which can otherwise become overwhelmed.

It goes without saying that structured wiring is easiest to install during new construction, when the walls are open. Taking the time and care to include structured wiring in a new home’s plans can have a tangible impact on its appreciation and resale value. It can also save the home’s future owners from taking on an expensive (and likely inevitable) retrofit to add structured wiring later on.

Working From Home

Consider the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on the world over the past three years. Working from home and the ongoing transition to “hybrid” work have increased the demands on our houses’ technical infrastructure.
Any home might understandably find its technology creaking when the demands of people working on Zoom or Teams, HD movies and music are all being streamed whilst social media is being browsed, but that’s become the norm for most of us.

Sound, Shades, and Light

Music streaming and automated shades are other applications that benefit greatly from structured wiring. While music streaming can be done wirelessly, having wired speakers allows for less obtrusive equipment while having a better quality sound and a more reliable experience. Wired speakers will provide you with more options to choose from and they deliver a deeper, richer sound because there’s no compression required during data transmission.


By the same token, low-voltage-wired automated shades have cleaner connections, safer communication, and more design options for hardware and controls than their wireless counterparts. Low-voltage-wired shades can also accommodate larger window applications and there’s no need to replace batteries or recharge them occasionally. Their motors tend to be quieter and multiple blinds can function in a symmetrical fashion, allowing them to raise and lower together in perfect symmetry.


Lighting is another area where pre-planning and pre-wiring can help in creating a better experience for the homeowners. Most houses tend to have multiple light loads in various rooms. Having multiple switches present on the wall is both an eyesore and can be confusing to use. For many modern houses, the better solution is to wire all the dimmers and switches in a central utility room or closet and distribute wired keypad controls that are custom engraved and usually backlit in the various rooms. This setup contributes to a cleaner, more modern, and more intuitive experience.


When it comes to how you’d like to operate the lights, sound and TVs or cinema system: I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t want to have your beautiful home cluttered with a myriad of remote controls. A truly smart home will also have a smart solution for automation and, for Theautom8group, we are advocates of Control4 and their simple-to-use yet powerful multi-application remote controls.

Getting it Right

It’s not just getting the network right that’s the biggest concern for people constructing their new home. So often we hear people say that “they wish they or their architect had planned ahead and given real thought to how each space in the house would be used in terms of technology and smart home automation.” Ironically, organized wiring—a practice that dates back decades—is essential to the development of linked smart houses. It’s time to start designing for the requirements of tomorrow’s smart homes, whether you work as an architect, home builder, interior designer, or a homeowner working from home. Those who ignore these trends may soon find themselves scurrying to change course and catch up to businesses that become market leaders in future-proofing smart homes.

A new-build smart home may be a genuinely smart, completely automated, truly beautiful house from the day you move in and for many happy years ahead with proper planning and setting up the network correctly from the beginning.

Want to know more? Call us at 866.815.0099 or email info@theautom8group.com.

What is the difference between a Connected Home and Smart Home?

In today’s world, everything has an app. Your TVs have an app, the wireless sound system has an app, thermostats have an app, and even your lights and shades can have an app. Does having a mobile app to control the different electronic systems and apps mean you have a Smart Home? We argue there’s a difference between a Smart Home and a Connected Home. But what is that difference and is one better than the other? 

Connected Home

Almost all home electronic devices today, from TVs to wireless speakers, thermostats, lights, shades, and surveillance cameras have mobile apps to control them. It means that in most cases these devices are either connected to the internet or are controlled via Bluetooth. If you desire to control one of these devices, you’ll need to get your mobile phone or tablet, launch the corresponding app and control the device from there. You may also control it through voice control if you enable one of the various voice control options to work with that particular app. However, this voice control option may be cumbersome as you’ll have very strict and defined commands. If you deviate from the exact command, the voice control system might not be able to execute the command. Another challenge with standalone connected devices is when trying to execute an action that involves multiple connected devices. Watching a movie or a sporting event  in your media room is a good example of that. Say you want to watch a movie on a Sunday afternoon, you’d want to turn on the TV and have it go to the right streaming service, i.e. Netflix or Amazon Prime, etc. Next you might want to dim the lights and close the shades or curtains. You might even want to adjust the temperature in the room. If you desire to watch the movie in surround sound, you may need another layer of complexity in the form of an Audio & Video Receiver (AVR) to manage the surround sound. These are a lot of actions to take for a fairly simple task like watching a movie and one can argue that executing all these actions from separate apps doesn’t constitute a Smart Home. 

In summary, a Connected Home constitutes multiple electronic devices each controlled via a dedicated, individual app for that device only. Actions that require multiple devices to work cohesively cannot be executed in unison, but rather on app by app basis.

Some examples of Connected Home devices:

  • Smart TVs
  • Wireless sound systems
  • Thermostats
  • Lights and dimmers
  • Motorized shades
  • Smart door locks
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Smart appliances

In order for these devices to work properly, they usually require a good internet connection and a strong Wi-Fi reception throughout the house. In some cases, smart devices can work on the local network (LAN) without connection to the internet, though in most cases performance and features will be limited.

Smart Home Technology

Smart Homes contain the same devices and apps a Connected Home includes with one major difference, they work cohesively. Also called Intelligent Home Automation, smart home technology refers to either the components or the entirety of a home’s automation monitored by a single, integrated control system. As a result, you can control multiple aspects of your home’s technology with the single push of a button from one digital control panel or a mobile app. In other words, Smart Home Technology aggregates the various apps into one cohesive system. And to push the envelope further, an intelligent home will collect data and provide feedback to learn more about your household habits and then begin catering to them. For instance, when you press the Good Night button by your bedside that turns off all lights and electronics, you’ll also be notified if the garage door was left open, and reminded to arm the alarm. A Smart Home System can also remind you to take the trash or recycling out on garbage day. It can even let you know whether it’s a paper or plastic collection. 

Smart Home systems can also monitor leaks, start the sprinklers if the lawn is dry, and of course the Movie action will turn the flat screen to the right input, dim the lights, close the curtains, adjust temperature level and sound volume all with the push of a single button.

When it comes to Voice Control, some of the voice control applications available with Smart Home systems are considered AI. in other words, they learn your commands and adjust accordingly. They’re more flexible in the set of commands and can also identify which room you’re in. So, if you’re entering your bedroom and ask to turn the lights on, the system will know to turn on the lights in the bedroom. With a Connected Home, you’ll have to specify which room you want the lights turned on in. A Smart Home system fitted with voice control can also be commanded to play a specific movie or TV series and the system will execute all the necessary actions to display your selection with a single command. For example, you can command the system to play Ozark season 3 episode 5. The system will then turn on the flat screen to the right input and be prompted to the streaming service carraying Ozark, then select the requested episode and start streaming.

Examples of Smart Home Technology include:

  • Wi-fi networks
  • Home wiring
  • Integrated security systems
  • Incorporated music speakers
  • Outdoors (sprinklers, retractable awnings, etc.)
  • Automated lighting
  • Garage door automation
  • Motorized shading
  • Video systems
  • Media rooms

In summary, a Smart Home system contains the same devices and apps a Connected Home includes with the distinction that they’re integrated into one cohesive system. In addition, the main system can monitor the sub-systems and provide feedback to the user.

Do You Need a Connected Home or a Smart Home?

Does purchasing a Connected Home or a Smart Home make more sense, then? Your needs and your budget will determine everything. Consider trying out a few connected devices first if you appreciate the ease of a linked home and are ready to make the switch but are unclear whether it makes sense to proceed with an automated smart home.

#1. How much of your home do you want to connect? 

Imagine you only want to use your phone to operate your TV and a few lights. In that situation, sticking with a Connected Home makes sense because it will be the less expensive alternative. At this point, there aren’t many apps to sort through, so a fully integrated Smart Home System won’t be very useful. However, if you want a complete smart system with everything integrated and automated—including temperature control, lighting, water, TV, music, smart appliances, and more—it might make sense to do so.

#2. What is your budget? 

A fully automated Smart Home monitoring system will cost more to have professionally installed, and of course, upgrading all systems of your home will cost more than just a chosen few.

#3. Do you want your devices to work cohesively? 

If so, a complete Smart Home setup is required. If not, stick with Connected. You’ll still be able to enjoy most of the features of a Smart Home, though it requires more actions and apps to execute a single task. 

#4. Do you need Intelligent Voice Control?

For a reliable Voice Control System to function properly, a full Smart Home System is recommended.

The best approach is to test the waters and see if you enjoy the convenience a connected home delivers before deciding how functional you want your home to be. For instance, let’s say you soon desire an increasing number of connected appliances and smart home accessories. If so, this might indicate that you’re prepared to take advantage of the automation and access that a genuinely Smart Home System offers.

Want to know more? Call us at 866.815.0099 or email info@theautom8group.com.

7 points to consider when purchasing high-quality LEDs (1/2)

With LED light fixtures becoming the norm on any new construction and gut reno projects, it’s worth understanding what you get with your fixture package. Unlike incandescent light, not all LED fixtures are born equal. There are quite a few considerations when specifying LED fixtures, from the dimming range and technology to variations in color and temperature and even the lifetime of the fixture. Below are seven aspects to consider when specifying LED fixtures for your project or your house.

 1. Compatibility with dimmers  

It’s a common misconception that any LED dimmer can be paired with any dimmable LED light bulb. Unfortunately, that is not the case. All LED fixtures come with a Driver. The driver technology determines whether the LED can be dimmed and how, as there are several dimming technologies on the market. Some examples are Forward Phase, Reverse Phase (also known as Phase Control or Triac), Electronic Low Voltage (ELV), Magnetic Low Voltage (MLV), and 0-10V which requires special wiring.

Most LEDs have multiple driver options, so it’s important to check if the selected dimmer can support the driver that was specified with the LED fixture. 

The easiest way to ensure that your light bulbs and dimmer controls are compatible is to check the lamp’s manufacturer spec sheet or dimmer compatibility sheet.

These are the main LED Driver technologies

Triac (forward phase) dimming uses “standard” wall dimmers that are widely used in installations across America.

  • 120V only
  • Low End adjustment on dimmer may be necessary to achieve optimal performance.
  • Dims down to as low as 1% in current and light output with select dimmers.
  •  Generally dims down to 5% light output.
  • Consult the dimming manufacturer for installation and programming instructions.
  • Must meet dimmer minimum load requirements per dimming manufacturers.

ELV – Electronic Low Voltage (reverse phase) dimming uses specialized “ELV” dimmers.

  • 120V only
  • Low End adjustment on dimmer may be necessary to achieve optimal performance.
  • Dims down to as low as 1% in current and light output on select dimmers.
  •  Generally dims down to 5% light output.
  • Consult the dimming manufacturer for installation and programming instructions.
  • Must meet dimmer minimum load requirements per dimming manufacturers

0-10V Dimming Driver Option 

0-10V Dimmers have been used in commercial applications for fluorescent lighting and occupancy and daylight sensor systems for years and are now becoming popular with LED products. One reason this standard is widely established is that it is defined in the IEC standard number 60929 Annex E, making it acceptable to most engineers

 2. Dimming capacity

The human eye responds to low light levels by enlarging the pupil, allowing more light to enter the eye. This response results in a difference between measured and perceived light levels.  A lamp that is dimmed to 10% of its maximum measured light output is perceived as being dimmed to only 32%. Likewise, a lamp dimmed to 1% is perceived to be at 10%.

 How important is this? 

By enlarging the pupil, the human eye responds to low light levels and that allows it to see more light. For example: if the measured light output is 1%, then the perceived light level will be 10%.  For the brightness of the luminaire to be matched to our eyes, the dimming curve has to be configured appropriately. If not, the perceived changes in brightness will be affected.   

A good LED driver with the capacity to dim to 0.1% configuration provides the option to set the dimming behavior as per the human eye functionality and application preference. So, if you want a 50% reduction in the light intensity, you need to select the expected dimming response. Therefore, when shopping for LEDs, don’t be fooled: an LED which can dim to a seemingly low 5%, will be perceived by the human eye at more than 20% which is rather bright.

3. Color difference:

For white LED lights, color consistency can be a critical but often overlooked quality that can make or break a project. Read on to learn how and why color variation exists, and how to ensure you can attain excellent color consistency for your LED light project.

What exactly is color consistency?

In general, color differences can be characterized across two axes – blue/yellow and green/magenta. For example, you may find that one light is “bluer” than the other, or more “green” than the other.

The blue/yellow difference can be characterized using color temperature (in degrees Kelvin). Acceptable color variation depends on the application, but for warm white, +/-75K is typically the threshold of noticeable color difference, and +/-150K for normal white or cool white.

Green/magenta variation can be described using a lesser known metric called Duv. A Duv of 0.000 indicates a light source that is neutral. A negative Duv indicates a magenta color shift, while a positive Duv indicates a green color shift. Typically Duv values that differ by more than 0.002 are noticeable.

Keep in mind that Duv variation is very much overlooked as a metric but is arguably more noticeable than Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) variation. If color consistency is critical for your application, be sure to ask your supplier for Duv tolerance metrics.

Standard Deviation Color Matching (SDCM) or MacAdam Ellipses

Some sophisticated manufacturers will describe their color consistency using a metric called SDCM or MacAdam ellipses, both of which refer to the same concept and metric. The unit of measure is a “step” and the larger the number of steps, the larger the variation in color.

In general, color consistency is deemed acceptable when it is within a 3-step SDCM range for standard applications, and 2-step SDCM range for more demanding applications for professional or architectural uses. In some cases, even narrower color tolerances are needed, but most people will not be able to tell that there is any color deviation once consistency reaches 1 or 2 SDCM.

SDCM is a superior metric compared to CCT and Duv for two reasons. First, it captures the variation in both the blue/yellow direction and green/magenta direction and distills it into a single number. This can be useful because in some cases the color inconsistency can occur in both dimensions. The second reason is that a 100K color difference is considered larger at lower color temperatures. SDCM algorithmically takes this into account and makes the necessary adjustments depending on the color temperature. The primary disadvantage is that many manufacturers are not sufficiently concerned about color difference and will oftentimes be unfamiliar with this metric.

It’s worth noting that LED fixtures degrade over time and thus the SDCM or MacAdam ellipse, may shift over time. A good quality LED fixture should maintain its SDCM values for the duration of the manufacturer’s advertised fixture lifetime and/or warranty.   

Why do LED lights get dimmer over time?

The term degradation in relation to LEDs refers to the decrease in luminous power over the course of the LED’s life.

Degradation is like an aging process in which the LED becomes dimmer and darker over its life cycle as the LED driver generates heat and the heat causes the LED fixture to degrade over time. In the US, LEDs are often given an L70 rating. This rating describes the time it takes for lumen output to drop below 70%. Although other ratings like L50, L80 and L90 can also be used, L70 is the most common as this is when the brightness of the light becomes markedly different. Once the LED lumen output has dropped below 70%, it will still emit light, but it may no longer be fit for purpose. Different environmental conditions such as excess heat in the space where the fixtures are installed, can cause degradation to accelerate. In addition, lumen degradation is not a linear measure. Degradation may start slowly, but then accelerate after it drops below the 70% threshold. 

4. Color temperature:

The temperature of light is measured in degrees Kelvin which is what the K at the end of the light temperature value represents. Most LEDs are locked to one color temperature, i.e., 2700K, 3000K etc. When dimming these LEDs the light tends to become grayish, while incandescent or heat based light (like the sun) is cool when bright, i.e., 4000K or higher and warm when dimmed, i.e., 1400-1800K.

LED Lighting and Color Temperature

In technical terms, color temperature is the temperature of an “ideal black-body radiator that radiates light of comparable hue to that light source.”

Let’s try that in English: imagine an object made of iron. At room temperature, the object would obviously appear black. Heated up to 1500 degrees Kelvin (K) however, it would glow red. At 2700K, it takes on a warm, yellowish glow. At 4200K it appears bright white, and by 5500K it glows blueish. That’s how the color temperature numbers are determined.

Enough of the geek-speak, just remember that the number indicates the general look or feel of a light or the light bulb colors when it’s turned on.

Here’s a color temperature cheat sheet to use when shopping for LED lighting:

SOURCE : ledlightinginfo.com | upshine.com | lumoscontrols.com | 1000bulbs.com

7 points to consider when purchasing high-quality LEDs (2/2)

 

Cont: 

5. Uniformity

Color consistency is defined using MacAdam Ellipses. A one step MacAdam Ellipse defines an area of a chromaticity diagram where the average person is only able to distinguish a single color. The diagram shows examples of one step ellipses on a chromaticity diagram where only a single color can be distinguished by the average observer. Note that the human eye is more sensitive to wavelength changes in the blue and red spectrums than green, hence the differing size of the ellipse between these colors.

When blending different types of LED applications such as cans, strips/linears, and decoratives in one space it’s hard to keep color and temperature consistent.

In a single production batch of LEDs the majority will typically fall within a five step MacAdam Ellipse with a small proportion falling outside this with greater color variation. If LED manufacturers were to discard LEDs outside of a one step Macadam Ellipse to give perfect color consistency it would mean the majority of LEDs would be wasted making production costs prohibitive. Instead, LEDs are measured on the production lines to determine their color and then batched together into color bins so that luminaire manufacturers can select those most suitable for their products. The wider the color bin that a luminaire manufacturer is willing to accept, the lower their cost becomes as the LED manufacturer is able to sell a greater proportion of the yield from each production run. The lowest cost color selection is typically “Full Yield”, in which the luminaire manufacturer purchases the entire production run of LEDs regardless of variations in color. Although this reduces cost it inevitably results in a color variation between luminaires, and between chips within a single luminaire, that most clients would be unwilling to accept. At the other end of the cost spectrum a luminaire manufacturer can order one step MacAdam Ellipse color bins, however, such a narrow and expensive color selection would be unnecessary in the vast majority of applications.

6. CRI VS. TM-30:

What is CRI?

Developed well over 50 years ago, Color Rendering Index (CRI) measures the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects in comparison to the ideal (daylight) source. In other words, how similar an electronic light source (like an LED luminaire) renders colors compared to natural light.

 

CRI indexes eight standard colors and how these are represented by a specific light source compared to natural daylight. 100 is the optimal ‘best’ score. The average CRI for modern LED lighting is between 80 – 90, and are considered a “good” color representation, relatively true to nature. However, best in class LEDs will have a CRI of over 90 and will render the colors of the interiors you are designing more effectively.

Why a New Metric?

Well, since around 1974 the method for measuring color rendering has been largely unchanged – unlike the advancement of lighting and technology. With LED lighting so common now, lighting designers and scientists strongly feel CRI is becoming less effective at achieving desired results in the real world. While many lighting professionals will continue to work with CRI, TM-30, developed in 2015 by the Illumination Engineering Society (IES), provides an alternative, more comprehensive color index.

 

What’s the Difference Between CRI and TM-30?

 

  • Only eight color samples are tested for CRI.
  •  CRI only uses color fidelity to base its index score, ignoring other spectral values.
  •  When comparing CRI values, Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) must be identical. 
  •  Two separate light sources with the same CRI score can render colors very differently.
  •  A high CRI measured rating could produce or represent a low TM-30 score.

 

CRI measures just 8 color samples. TM-30 uses 99 color samples – quite a difference! The use of 99 color samples versus just eight allows for a more statistically representative and reliable metric.

CRI is measured using a light fidelity metric ONLY. The TM-30 rendering index uses a more comprehensive range of three color metrics:

  • Color Fidelity (Rf – “same-ness” index)
  •  Color Gamut (Rg – saturation index)
  •  Gamut Shape (visual description on hue and saturation)

 

Color Fidelity: Enumerates the accuracy with which the color appearance of surfaces and objects under a given test source match their appearance under a reference illuminant.

Color Gamut: Enumerates the average increase or decrease of the chroma of surfaces and objects when viewed under a given test source relative to when viewed under a reference illuminant. As an example, an Rg value below 100 indicates that, on average, the light source renders colors as less saturated than the reference source, and an Rg value above 100 indicates that, on average, the light source renders colors as more saturated than the reference source.

Color Vector Graphic: Provides a visual representation of hue and saturation changes occurring in surfaces and objects when viewed under a given test source relative to when viewed under a reference illuminant. The addition of the Color Vector Graphic provides a wealth of color rendering information beyond averages, showing us at a glance exactly where the hue and saturation shifts are taking place on the color spectrum

7. R9

What is R9?R9 is the score that represents how accurately a light source will reproduce strong red colors.”Accurate” is defined as similarity to daylight or incandescent bulbs, depending on the color temperature. Just like each of the CRI R value calculations, R9 is determined by calculating the reflected color from a theoretical object with the reflectance profile defined as TCS9. The reflectance spectra is provided below:

What is notable is that the TCS9 spectrum is almost entirely composed of red light. Spectrum-wise, we see this as wavelengths longer than 600 nm.This means that if there is not enough red light in the light source, it will make red colors appear “off” or different.Below is a typical LED spectrum compared to the reference source (daylight). There is a very notable lack of red light emitted by the LED at wavelengths past 600 nm.As a result, the R9 value for this LED is at -1.4. (That’s right, a negative number!) This is in spite of the fact that the general CRI (Ra) comes in at 79.

Why is R9 important?

R9 is a very important metric because it represents how well an LED renders the red color and if we base our LED selection purely on CRI values, many light sources might be lacking in red content, but this fact will be hidden due to the averaging out of CRI calculations which do not include R9.As the chart below shows, a light source can actually perform quite well with the first 8 test color samples, scoring quite well for R1-R8. For the general CRI Ra metric, this means that an LED with poor red color rendering can still get by with an 80 CRI (Ra) rating.

What is a good R9 value?

Although the maximum possible value of R9 is also 100, unlike average CRI numbers, R9 should be judged a bit differentlyMathematically, R9 is far more difficult to achieve a high score compared to the other R values that comprise the CRI calculations, and is far more sensitive to spectral variations. Therefore, an R9 score of 50 or above would be considered “good” while an R9 score of 90 or above would be considered “excellent”.You will therefore find that most lighting products available in the market will rarely specify the R9 value, and when they do, rarely will they guarantee anything higher than 50. Even at Waveform Lighting, we specify R9 > 80 or R9 > 90, and are unable to guarantee anything higher than R9 > 95 due to this sensitivity. This is due to the fact that CRI utilizes the CIE 1960 uv color space, which is skewed in a way that exaggerates color differences in the red region of the chromaticity diagram. Since CRI is a calculation that quantifies color differences between a light source and a reference source, a larger calculated color difference will result in a larger decrease in the R score.

Why is red such an important color?

Red is a crucial color for many applications including photography, textiles and reproduction of human skin tones.Many objects that do not appear red actually are a combination of colors, including red. Skin tones, for example, are very much influenced by the redness of the blood that flows right beneath our skin.

Therefore, a light that lacks red will make a person look pale, or even green. This can be problematic for medical applications where color appearance is critical for accurate diagnoses. In other applications such as photography, aesthetic appearance is crucial and many times cannot be corrected for even in post production and digital editing.

When searching for a high color quality LED, be sure to inquire about the CRI as well as its R9 value.

Conclusion

As you can tell, there are many considerations when choosing LEDs for your space. Sometimes it’s hard to extract all the necessary specifications, especially when ordering LEDs online or from low-value sources. Many low-cost manufactures tend to hide the important specifications such as the MacAdam Ellipse or R9 values. In addition, many lower-cost LEDs don’t dim sufficiently to achieve the required perceived results vs. the actual result. And finally, most LEDs lack the ability to adjust the temperature of the light (degrees Kelvin) and are locked to only one temperature setting, resulting in grayish looking light when dimmed.


Fortunately, there is a brand of LEDs that doesn’t require any dimmers (yes, you heard it right) – so compatibility is not an issue. Dims to 0.1%. Rated to one-step MacAdam. Has a CRI value greater than 90 and R9 value over 50, and adjustable temperature between 1400K and 10,000K while maintaining uniformity across all various form factors such as recessed lights, track lights, bulbs and linear (tape) lights. It also has over 16 million color combinations and can mimic natural daylight. Want to know more? Call us at 866.815.0099 or email info@theautom8group.com.

 

SOURCE : ledlightinginfo.com | upshine.com | lumoscontrols.com | 1000bulbs.com

 

4 Tips For Proper Circadian Rhythm You Need To Know

 

 

Have you heard of circadian lighting? Perhaps you’ve heard about human-centric lighting or read how blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle. You may wonder what Circadian Lighting is and what you need to know before implementing it in your building or space. Circadian lighting is light that has a biological effect on our circadian system. A healthy circadian rhythm is essential to better long-term health and sleeping habits. Circadian lighting’s goal is to send signals to our brain, telling our bodies what functions to perform, whether day or night, according to the time of day. Many new designs incorporate circadian lighting to improve visual environments, increase productivity, and promote health.

While there are many unanswered questions regarding circadian lighting and its adoption, the conversations are inspiring. As lighting designers and engineers, we should consider some of the main themes of circadian lighting but also weigh the ‘unknowns’ and concerns before producing designs that support a healthy circadian rhythm.

What are Circadian Rhythms?

Circadian rhythms are natural internal processes that regulate the sleep-wake cycle. And light, whether natural or artificial, has the most significant influence on this rhythm. Photoreceptors in the eye pick up ambient lighting cues to determine the time of day. These cues regulate the sleep-wake cycle by controlling the body’s production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). All organisms, including plants, use circadian rhythms to regulate their internal cycles.

For you, it’s the sleep-wake cycle, staying awake during the day, staying focused (in good lighting), and regenerating at night. Light is one of the most significant influences on our circadian rhythms. As the pressure to be more sharp increases, indoor industries such as healthcare, education, and office spaces are taking this new research and technology into consideration. A strategically designed system can positively impact building occupants’ productivity, alertness, and decrease sick days. Using light to influence humans’ Circadian rhythms is relatively new to the lighting industry, but an exciting advancement! Without a lighting system capable of producing these effects automatically throughout the day, circadian lighting would be tough to make consistent. We use the combination of Ketra lighting, Lutron shading, and the Homeworks control system to produce effortless circadian lighting on autopilot. 

According to studies, healthy circadian rhythms and coordination, cardiovascular activity, cognition, weight control, immunological function, and digestion can be related to one another. To regulate these biological processes, developing the following daily habits to support your sleep-wake cycle is essential. 

1. Keep a regular sleeping pattern

Setting and maintaining a sleep schedule will help you maintain your circadian rhythm. Waking up consistently every day is necessary. Your body clock will get conditioned to help you sleep through the night if you follow a regular sleep-wake schedule. After a sleepless night, resist the impulse to catch up on your sleep. On the weekends, it’s typical to want to sleep in or take a lengthy nap, but doing so can harm your circadian rhythm.

Around nine o’clock at night, the body is often signaled to sleep. Around 7:30 a.m., it begins to slow down, which signals the body to wake up. Try to plan your sleep hours so that you have extra time to unwind before bed during these periods. 

2. Inhale fresh air in the morning

Early morning light exposure causes your brain to create less melatonin. When your alarm goes off, you should open the blinds right away. Take a walk outside or enjoy your coffee on the porch if you have the time. Your internal clock will be reset for the day by exposure to sunshine.

3. Later in the day, stay away from large meals and coffee

Sleeping patterns might be affected by what you eat. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can cause your brain to be triggered to keep your body active, while food and alcohol create heartburn. Allow your body 12 to 14 hours to rest without eating (this can include the hours you sleep). Your liver will no longer have to work as hard all night if you practice fasting. Your master clock sends messages to the liver directing it to cease producing the enzymes needed to convert calories into energy and to start conserving energy when it causes the release of melatonin. More food is stored in the body than is burned when you eat excessively before bedtime, which makes your liver work harder.

4. Limit your nightly screen time

In the same way that morning light has an impact on your circadian cycle so does evening light. Your brain can be tricked into believing it is still daylight by household light, such as lamp light and the blue light emitted by laptops, smartphones, and tablets, which prevents it from producing melatonin. Avoid scrolling social media in bed and start reducing the lights two hours before bedtime. You can use a blue light filter app on your device or wear blue light-blocking glasses if you work nights or need to use a screen in the evenings.

Your body maintains a 24-hour body clock naturally through your circadian rhythm, which supports the maintenance of a regular sleep-wake cycle. You can maintain this important bodily function by leading a healthy, active lifestyle that encourages restful sleep. 

Circadian Lighting For Your Home

Without a lighting designer, developing an interior design project is like going to a restaurant and ordering only the bread. Although the bread is fantastic, there are a lot more delicious foods that you are skipping. A space gains a new depth through expertly positioned lighting, bringing an interior design idea to life.

Unfortunately, in today’s reality, spending much time outside in daylight is nearly impossible, necessitating improvements to the artificial lighting conditions of our indoor environments. Adapting indoor lighting to our biological needs can significantly impact our daily well-being and nighttime sleep. Daylight exposure is essential for healthy circadian rhythms, which indirectly influence sleep onset at night.

Excellent lighting adds height and depth, illuminates cozy areas, and highlights your most striking features. The right amount of light and shade is crucial for revitalizing a room’s atmosphere. 

Let’s Roam: The Maine Coastline

For those who like to meditate or simply take a minute to savor the wonderful creation that is our planet.

Sitting by the ocean, relaxing to the sound of a running stream, or looking into the horizon from a mountain cliff can transform the experience of meditating or relaxing from ordinary to extraordinary.

This is an experience we would like to share with anyone who is interested in mediation, yoga, relaxation, mindfulness or any other type of spiritual practice.

As we develop our new Meditation Room concept, one aspect we were struggling with is the media content. Sure, we can source media content containing great scenery from around the world on YouTube, but what would be the fun in that? Besides, the video quality will not be 4K, and overall, we felt it will not be very authentic. So, the only solution was to source our own media content. And the only way to source our own content was to send someone out into the wild to gather it.

Our owner, Alon, jumped on the opportunity, and he set out to find some beautiful serene places one would like to sit for a bit and connect with the universe. Since we live in Covid times, travelling to just about anywhere is not feasible.

So, the decision was made, we are exploring the Maine coastline.

Maine, dubbed Vacation Land, is known for its picturesque coast and its natural splendor with Acadia National Park, its crown jewel. In addition, Maine is on the travel safelist for residents of the NY Tristate area, which makes it an ideal destination for his family of four.

This is Alon’s travel journal, with some behind the scenes of the spots he gathered inspiration from.

In late August, a window of opportunity opened to travel up to Maine to collect some content for our Meditation Rooms concept and have some family fun while we’re at it. We decided to start in Southern Maine to avoid having to drive for ten hours or more in one shot. For the first three nights, we stayed in a beach town called Old Orchard Beach, mainly since it has a water park, we figured we would satisfy the twins’ hunger for water slides first. Old Orchard Beach reminded me very much of the Jersey Shore, albeit less crowded and a wider shore, and the water is about 10°F colder. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the water park was closed during the week due to Covid, and with temperatures not suitable for tanning we were forced to explore what else the area had to offer.

First stop: Portland Head

On the advice of friends, we headed towards Portland Head, the famous Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth at the entry to the Portland Harbor. New England is dotted with lighthouses and this one is among the more impressive. This is a great place for scenic photography, and family photos galore. The shore itself, as we found is typical to Maine, is made of jagged cliffs, providing ample opportunities to over-active kids or any other adventurers to test their cliff climbing skills. We also enjoyed some overpriced lobster rolls from a local track, and the view from the picnic table was so worth it. Besides the lighthouse itself and the museum at its base there is also a short scenic trail along the cliffs and even a small beach. There are plenty of parking spots, though I can imagine that the place gets crowded during the main summer season. Please note that Portland Head closes at 2 pm. So, make sure to arrive there no later than noon.

The Lighthouse at Portland Head

Feeling Motivated in Harpswell

On day 2 we opted to venture a little further. After reading some reviews online, we decided to head to Harpswell and Bailey Island primarily to explore the Giant’s Stairs. We read this was one of the most scenic walks in Maine. Well, we weren’t disappointed.

The Giant’s Stairs – Bailey Island

The trail along the jagged cliffs is breathtaking and we wished the trail was longer than a mile. The trail is extremely easy to walk with some offshoots leading down to the cliffs and various spots to stop and savor the majesty of this natural beauty. You can sit at the edge of a cliff and enjoy the sights and sounds as wave after wave are crushing on the cliffs. What an ideal corner to disconnect.

The Giant’s Stairs – Bailey Island

In our quest to extend the Giant’s Stairs trail, we reached the end of the road and with it a charming cabins hotel named Driftwood Inn. We fell in love. Driftwood Inn is at the end of a peninsula and thus is surrounded by the beautiful shoreline on three sides overlooking an island at the other side of the cove. It has plenty of vistas to take in the natural beauty and the cottages are lovely. It all makes Driftwood Inn a perfect spot to sit and quite down. We knew right away we had to spend a night or two there and since we left a couple of nights at the tail end of our trip for the unexpected, a cottage was shortly booked for two nights – spoiler alert, the plans are going to change. One thing was for certain though, this spot had to make it into our meditation library and now we needed the opportunity to capture and share this experience. Will we get it?

Our appetite for cliff trails was not satisfied and we decided to head to another trail called plainly the Cliff Trail. The Cliff Trail also offers some beautiful scenic views of fjord like bays decorated with evergreens. It is a short and easy loop trail that takes about an hour. I’d recommend it if you have the time.

The Cliff Trail – Bailey Island

From Old Orchard Beach to Blissful Bar Harbor

On the third day of our trip the forecast was calling for a warmer sunny day, perfect opportunity to spend some time on the beach to satisfy the Misses’ affection for sun, sand, and waves. Well, the weather had some other ideas and stayed somewhat cool and cloudy.

TheAutom8Group founder

The cloudy sky deterred the crowds, and that along with the pleasant temperature created a perfect backdrop for some quiet time and relaxation on the beach. For me it was also an excellent opportunity to create a relaxation video that celebrates the way the clouds interact with the water to create a perfect atmosphere.

And so, my first relaxation video was created.

By noon we realized the sun wasn’t going to show itself and decided to head up to Bar Harbor where we had accommodations for the next two nights. But before embarking on the three-hour drive, we had to savor the marsh views at Pine Brook the adjacent town to Old Orchard Beach. We had lunch at Bayley’s Lobster Pound. The quality of the fresh seafood matched that of the beautiful scenery. Overall if you intend to stay in that area, I would highly recommend staying in one of the seaside hotels/motels at Pine Brook over Old Orchard Beach.

Driving up the Maine Turnpike is a pleasant experience in and of itself. The road was rather open and the scenery intriguing. From water canals to open bays and the diversity of the trees and vegetation made the drive so much more interesting than your usual highway transit.

Exploring Bar Harbor

I must admit I hadn’t heard of Bar Harbor until a week before our trip. I was happy my wife did the research though and booked us for a couple of nights there, even though these plans were about to change. Apparently, many of America’s most influential people owned or own a home in the town or its immediate vicinity and for good reason. This town is absolutely beautiful! From its waterline to Acadia National Park at its backyard, there’s no shortage of great views and great adventures.

We arrived at Bar Harbor towards dinner time and wasted no time in exploring its streets. Situated on Desert Mountain Island and practically serving as the gateway to Acadia, the streets are humming with tourists and hikers. The downtown itself is incredibly charming, and there are plenty of restaurants and souvenir stores. Unfortunately for us it started raining as soon as we left the hotel and we were restricted to a quick restaurant search, though still managed to enjoy a beautiful sunset over Cadillac Mountain.

Rainy Sunset over Bar Harbor


Immersed in the Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain

With an elevation of 1,530 feet (466 meters) Cadillac Mountain’s summit is the highest point within 25 miles (40 km) of the Atlantic shoreline of the North American continent and is known as the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise (although that is only true for a portion of the year). I paused for a second when our hotel concierge told me I should leave the hotel by 4:30 in the morning if I wanted to get parking at the summit and view the famous sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in its entirety. But I was on a mission to source content and surely the first sunrise in the US will be a spiritual experience that should be captured and shared.

So, I rolled out of bed at around 4:15 in the morning and snuck out quietly not to wake the sleeping bunch. The 15-minute drive in the dark up the winding road to the summit was a mystical experience in and of itself, though more, much more was yet to come.

Upon arriving at the summit, I noticed quite a few silhouettes heading in one direction. Since my objective was to create a video documenting the sunrise from first light until the big ball of fire is fully exposed, along with the natural sounds, I figured I’d head in a different direction, climbing over rocks on a less traveled path to try to find some solitude. To my fortune, the full moon was still at full force shining its light from the west, and I could see the obstacles in front of me. Before long I was able to situate myself in an optimal location surrounded by beautiful boulders and low evergreens. A red sliver was appearing on the horizon and the reflection of the moonlight on a water runoff contributed to the mystic atmosphere.

full moon was still at full force shining its light

This was ideal I thought; the amazing view along with the whistle of the wind will make for the perfect meditation scenery. I set up my camera, got comfortable, and started filming. Indeed, the sunrise did not disappoint. As the first rays broke over a ring of red and orange clouds, the full view of Desert Island, Bar Harbor and the bay gradually became visible in all its glory.

sunrise, the beginning of a new day with all its promise

I personally love the energy that comes with the sunrise, the beginning of a new day with all its promise. It’s also my favorite time to meditate, usually the world is still quiet before the wheels of life start humming.

As I sat there on the cliff, with the sky becoming brighter and redder by the minute, my mind became quieter and uplifted.


As I was diving deeper, some voices and conversations behind me pulled me out of the sun’s rays and the whistling wind. I stood up, looked back, and saw what must have been about a hundred people on the cliff right above me. All taking selfies and posing with the grand view. The first sunrise in the US is quite popular as one can expect and might not be the perfect place for total solitude. Looks like this video will require a nice soundtrack after all.

Once the sun became fully visible over the ring of clouds, the crowds started to dissipate and the howling of the high-altitude wind returned to dominate the soundtrack. Since, the camera’s battery (and memory card) ran out, I could now truly relax and enjoy the breathtaking view that was exposed right below me. I found a rock that resembled a lounge chair and lounged with the sun’s orange rays warming my face. The relaxing scene was completed by a private show from a local squirrel who was rejoicing on a rock about three feet in front of me. This must be the beginning of a great day. A day we got to hike a trail which took the lives of more than 60 hikers.

relaxing scene was completed by a private show from a local squirrel who was rejoicing on a rock

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The Unique Experience of The Precipice Trail

High from my sunrise experience and the fact I was able to capture a full one-hour video of this beautiful experience in 4K, I headed back to the hotel to wake up the sleepy heads. Fortunately, they were already raring to go and after breakfast we headed back to Acadia.

We were debating which trail to hit first and while reviewing trails on All Trails I came across one called The Precipice, which consisted of walking across some narrow cliffs and climbing ladders. The pictures didn’t seem intimidating and I must admit that neither me, nor my wife knew the meaning of the word precipice and that turned out to be a good thing (Precipice: noun, a very steep rock face or cliff, especially a tall one). From that point, the thrill-seeking twins wouldn’t hear of anything else. The Precipice it had to be. We arrived at the head trail at around 10 am and not too many parking spots were available. Apparently, this trail is very popular, and it’s recommended to arrive in the earlier morning hours. The initial ascent, although steep, seemed peaceful and not unusual. And then we reached the ‘challenge’: A decently tall boulder with just a couple of metal rails.

This is a test, if you can muster the strength, flexibility and courage to get to the top of it, you may go on.

There were several hikers ahead of us and we had to wait for our turn patiently while maintaining social distancing. A couple of these hikers were struggling and that had sewn doubt in me, will I be able to make it? After all, my legs aren’t in full strength after sustaining a back injury several years ago. The twins hopped over the boulder as if it was nothing but a small rock. As for my wife and I, the less said the better. We did make it eventually and there was no turning back. There were numerous points along the trail when I thought, why didn’t I turn back when I could?

The ’Challenge Rock’ at The Precipice Trail


From here, The Precipice lived up to its name and didn’t disappoint. This trail has everything: challenging – check, amazing views – check, heart pumping adrenalin rush – check. Some of the sections which included climbing metal stakes imbedded into rocks or traversing over narrow cliffs were darn right scary and as close as one can get to rock-climbing. When we finally made it to the top with our quads burning and our shirts soaked with sweat – well, the sense of accomplishment is difficult to describe. It was well worth every challenge we endured.

Narrow cliffs at The Precipice

After some rest we started descending back through a trail that loops around the mountain. Some hikers take The Precipice back down, although we deemed it a bit too scary for our taste. If you are a real thrill seeker, it might be a good option. It was hard convincing our mountain goat-like twins to take the easy way back with us. All in all, The Precipice might be one of the hardest trails I’ve ever hiked, but at the same time one of the most exciting and fulfilling. So much so that the twins complained that every subsequent trail we hiked wasn’t exciting enough. We now know to keep the best for last the next time.

The view from Schooner Head at the top of The Precipice

Acadia Cliffs, Jordan Pond and The Bubbles

We dedicated the second day of our Acadia adventure and the sixth of our trip to some easier hikes. We started the day with an easy stroll around Jordan Pond which provided for a beautiful backdrop for another meditation video. One of the most striking things about Jordan Pond is how exceptionally clear the water is with an average visibility depth of 46 feet. I can also attest the water tastes great.

Jordan Pond


After an easy stroll and a light lunch we headed towards Ocean Path which winds along the cliffs which adorn the shoreline. This path is rather crowded, though it’s easy to go off the trail and find some beautiful vistas to stop, relax, and take in the amazing views. The boys also stole an opportunity to go rock climbing along the cliffs (good thing their mom didn’t see). As late afternoon approached, it also made for a great opportunity to record another meditation video celebrating the beautiful cliffs and the sound of the breaking waves.

Ocean Path, Acadia

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When we were visiting around Jordan Pond, I was very curious about the two bubble-looking mountains at the backdrop of Jordan Pond. Turned out their name reflected their shape, The Bubbles. So, as sunset was approaching, we decided to hit one more trail and climb up The Bubbles. As it turned out, there is a North Bubble and a South Bubble. We chose the North Bubble as it was a shorter trail and sunset was fast approaching. The North Bubble trail is relatively short yet steep trail that makes for a good workout.

The view from The North Bubble

Upon reaching the top, the sun was already dipping behind the horizon. The beautiful view, the sound of the wind and distant waves, as well as the fact it was the first time during our Acadia adventure we were truly on our own, called for another meditation video. After a short meditation as the shadows were growing longer, we packed up and hurried down the mountain while we could still see the path. Another amazing day at Acadia came to an end. We were supposed to head back south the next day, however this felt like unfinished business. We were having too much fun and couldn’t find it in our hearts to leave just yet. So, another night was booked at Bar Harbor with a night scratched at Bailey Island. Sometimes hard decisions had to be made.

Some Places Are Just Worth Repeating

On our last day at Acadia after watching the sunrise again, this time with the entire family, we were itching for one last trail to go out with a bang – something challenging (to compete with The Precipice), and with great views. We’ve got all that and more with the Cannon Brook, Cadillac South Ridge and Ladder Trail. This trail ascends almost 1,300 ft mostly by climbing over stairs and ladders in less than a mile to the top of Dore Mountain. You then descend for around 300 ft to a ravine and ascend another 500 ft to the top of Cadillac mountain. Of course, every muscle in our legs was screaming from exhaustion. The amazing views made it all worth it though. From Cadillac Mountain we then descended to Cannon Brook which offers a completely different scenery with its running streams and beautiful vegetation. When all was said and done, the sun was already high in the sky and it was time to head south towards Bailey Island.

We arrived at The Driftwood Inn on Bailey Island in the late afternoon and settled in our cabin. As I mentioned earlier, The Driftwood Inn is at the end of a peninsula (and just steps from The Giant Stairs). The place is so peaceful and relaxing with low light pollution at night. To add to the peaceful atmosphere, there’s absolutely no cell reception and the Wi-Fi was spotty as well (anyone know an AV company that can help with that?). So, out of other options, we fortunately were forced to sit on the porch, listen to the crushing waves and watch the stars which were gleaming in their millions.

On our last day in Maine we enjoyed the peacefulness of The Driftwood Inn with its magnificent ocean views all morning. It was also an opportunity to film one last meditation video to capture the absolutely calming atmosphere.

The view from The North Bubble

At last it was time to head south, back home. But not before we have one last real Maine Lobster Roll. Since it was Labor Day, we couldn’t find a decent table at any of the local restaurants and we ‘settled’ for lobster rolls from the local general store which we took to an oceanfront picnic area. I must admit these were the best, freshest lobster rolls I had the entire trip. That was a fitting way to bow out. We vowed to come back to this magnificent part of the world as soon as we could.

Can Architects Save The World?

It is safe to say the most important steps toward achieving a sustainable building project within established cost constraints are performed during the project’s feasibility and design stages. The construction industry, by its very nature, is a big user of natural resources. But with growing concerns over climate change and the finite nature of these resources, there is increasing pressure on construction firms to reduce their environmental impact.

Greener practices from all businesses are now top concerns for consumers. They want to ensure that they’re leaving the smallest environmental footprint possible. Contractors and construction companies have picked up on this interest as more and more are now offering ‘green building’ in their construction.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, construction spending in 2019 topped $1.3 trillion. During the first seven months of this year – 2020, construction spending amounted to $792.6 billion, 4.0 percent (±1.2 percent) above the $761.9 billion for the same period in 2019. 

Industry at this scale comes with incredible costs. The construction industry has a massive impact on the environment because energy use is high. Building requires heavy machinery which relies heavily on fossil fuels, and sometimes inefficient electricity can result in the burning of fossil fuels further down the energy supply line. The construction industry accounts for approximately 36% of worldwide energy usage and 40% of C02 emissions.

Earth’s resources are not unlimited

Especially with the growth of the population, the need for sustainable construction becomes more pronounced. Sustainable building materials are essential for creating greener buildings—and a healthier world. Construction and demolition waste makes up about 40% of the total solid waste stream in the U.S. and about 25% of the total waste stream in the European Union, according to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

One has to look at the big picture when considering the impact of a building—the building’s life cycle. The American Institute of Architects’ Guide to Building Life Cycle Assessment in Practice discusses how to evaluate the potential environmental impacts for every stage of a building’s life. One important factor in the building’s life cycle is selecting sustainable building materials. Architects need to consider how building materials are sourced, manufactured, transported, used, and discarded during construction. Every detail matters.

Modern Sustainable Technology

The role of sustainable infrastructure not only benefits the planet but also the investor’s profit margin too. The primary financial goal of businesses is to make a profit. That being said, investing in sustainable technologies is a great start to creating profit. Builders who invest in modern sustainable technology can recoup those costs over time, which results in reduced building operational costs.

The industry standard for sustainable construction, LEED promotes codes and standards for construction firms to follow during the construction process. LEED is not an immediate action; it is functional for today, and in the future. Construction firms need to recognize that sustainable construction is increasing in demand worldwide.

The construction industry isn’t really set up for sustainability. Many of the resources used in one building are hard or impossible to reuse in another, actual construction can reduce air quality, and with the growing population there is a greater need for buildings. So, how does construction become sustainable?

Béton Du Chanvre

Starting in the early 1980s, French builders resurrected a form of building material known as béton du chanvre — now called hempcrete— which dates to circa 500 A.D. The process is simple: a mixture of crushed hemp hurd (material inside the stalk), water and lime. While often seen as a low-tech building solution, the technology has progressed in recent years to include pre-fabricated bricks and panels that have been employed in residential and commercial buildings across Europe and Canada.

The innovativeness of hemp concrete as a building material lies in its function as a multi-performance material. It can entirely replace mineral aggregates in conventional concrete, and historically it was added to concrete and mortars to avoid retractions in plaster or clay brick. When cured, it retains a large amount of air, with a density equivalent to 15% of traditional concrete, making it an excellent thermal and acoustic insulator. An interesting feature of the material is that it is both a good thermal insulator and has high thermal inertia. That is, though light and porous, hempcrete can quickly store energy and release it gradually, making it effective for climates with high temperature variation between day and night. It also has good fire resistance, is non-toxic, and is naturally resistant to mold and insects. There are even surveys that point to hempcrete being a carbon-negative material, which in addition to compensating for the carbon emitted in production, actually stores additional carbon within the material itself.

Nowadays, although there are legal barriers in many countries, the use of hemp as a construction material has had encouraging results, with research demonstrating its strong thermoacoustic and sustainable qualities. Hemp can be shaped into fibrous panels, coverings, sheets, and even bricks.

Cross-Laminated Timber

Another choice is mass timber. It is a category of construction characterized by the use of large solid wood panels for floors, walls and ceilings. Of particular focus in the mass timber family is Cross-Laminated Timber. CLT is kiln-dried lumber aligned in multiple layers, each at a right angle to the preceding layer and glued together under significant pressure. The result is a structural panel with exceptional biaxial strength, rigidity and stability.

As the term “mass timber” implies, CLT segments can be large; up to one foot thick and 10 feet by 40 feet or larger in width and length. Panels can be manufactured to custom sizes, which reduces on-site cutting to speed on-site construction. CLT’s strength makes it a viable option for floors, walls and roofs, and its natural aesthetics enable it to be used fully exposed. Developed in Germany in the early 1990s CLT soon became popular in Europe and is now gaining traction in the U.S. In 2015, CLT was incorporated into the American Wood Council’s National Design Specifications and into the International Building Code (IBC), which is the default code adopted by jurisdictions across the U.S.

The alternating fibers and solid composition of CLT give it the potential to substantially reduce the carbon footprint of new buildings by replacing structural concrete. It’s lightweight, strong, and fire and earthquake resistant.

Dalston Works—the world’s largest building constructed out of CLT—weighs approximately one-fifth of a concrete building of the same size. And on top of that, it was completed an estimated eight months faster than if traditional building materials had been used.

According to a study published by the Journal of Cleaner Production, timber is sourced from sustainably managed forests to maintain wood resources. One of the most important environmental benefits of using CLT is its carbon sequestration properties that aid in climate change mitigation. It is estimated that roughly one cubic meter of wood stores around 1.10 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Here are some other examples of green building materials that you can use:

1. Solar Tiles

Regular roof shingles exist to protect your home from the elements, but don’t do anything with any of the energy they absorb. Solar tiles do both: they protect your home while converting solar energy into power for your home.

2. Sustainable Concrete

Concrete is responsible for 7-10% of global CO2 emissions. Sustainable concrete can include recycled materials that would otherwise have gone to waste. Similarly, grasscrete involves laying concrete with space for plant life, which reduces the material need as well as improving stormwater absorption and drainage capabilities. Hempcrete is another sustainable concrete alternative; it is a concrete-like material made with hemp fibers.

3. Bamboo

Bamboo may be lightweight, but when it comes to durability, it’s actually a strong replacement for many heavier materials. It’s fast-growing, which makes it a great renewable resource that’s environmentally friendly.

4. Wood

You can’t go wrong with wood: it’s been a reliable building material for centuries! When people properly manage forest and wood production, they provide a sustainable renewable material that is less energy-intensive to process other building materials.

5. Mycelium

Mycelium combines biology, design, and computing to create a unique building material composed of mushroom bricks. This material is strong, durable, and water-resistant.

Sustainable Interior Finishes

Although the bulk of the energy-saving work is done in the building envelope, interior finishes can also play a role in indoor environmental quality, carbon sequestration, and communicating sustainability to occupants and other stakeholders. The number of green design materials available has exploded in recent years. Products that used to be offered in limited colors or designs are now as varied as their traditional counterparts. Because of consumer demand, sustainable painting, flooring, and countertop products that might have been less durable and expensive in the past are now stronger, longer-lasting, and often more affordable.

Paint: Nearly every major paint company has created its own green line, but not all green paints are created equal. A new generation of low-VOC or zero-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints give homeowners a healthier option. The new range of paints is every bit as durable as their unhealthier predecessors, but with a plethora of health and environmental benefits. The water-based paints are easier to clean and release fewer landfill, groundwater and ozone depleting contaminants. The paints are a far better choice for everyone, especially those with respiratory ailments, allergies or chemical sensitivities.

Sealants / Adhesives: The risk with most finish materials is that chemical adhesives used during installation can counteract the healthy qualities of products that have been manufactured to be green. Sustainable adhesives and sealants contain little to no solvents meaning that less or no VOC are released during the application and curing, nor in the finished product.

Flooring: Wood is one of the best earth-friendly and renewable materials you can choose. Not only are fewer raw materials used in creating them, but they also require less energy and natural resources. While materials like bamboo and cork are popular types of sustainable wood flooring, they can be limited in their durability – especially when compared to hardwood floors. Cork is a softer wood, harvested from the bark of oak trees, whereas bamboo floors actually come from the grass family.

Countertops: The most common kitchen counters you will find in homes are traditional laminate countertops. And they certainly live up to the adage ‘you get what you pay for’, as most of them still contain a lot of formaldehyde and they aren’t very durable. IceStone is one of the most popular recycled countertops out there with a spectrum of colors available. Another is PaperStone is made of 100 percent post consumer paper fused with a petroleum-free resin derived from cashew liquids.The material more closely resembles wood than stone, making it much easier to work with.

Sustainable Textile

As the demand for eco-design and sustainable furniture has increased, the textile industry has adapted to this trend. In modern textile production, therefore, the use of polluting chemicals is dispensed with. In addition, attention is paid to the environmentally friendly extraction of raw materials. Here are some examples:

Hemp Fiber: considered by many as the most versatile and sustainable plant on earth. Its skin is tough and insect resistant, and this is why often hemp is used as a rotation crop. Its fiber and oil can be used in making clothes, papers, building material, food, skin care products and even biofuels.

Organic Linen Fiber: Linen fabrics are made with flax fibers. You can find flax fiber’s excellent properties in the hemp fiber info section.While growing flax is far more sustainable and causes less pollution than conventional cotton, herbicides have been commonly used in conventional cultivation as flax is not very competitive with weeds.

Organic cotton: is an ecologically responsible and green fiber. Unlike conventional cotton, which uses more chemicals than any other crop, it is never genetically modified and does not use any highly polluting agro-chemicals such as those found in pesticides, herbicides and many fertilizers. Integrated soil and pest management techniques—such as crop rotation and introducing natural predators of cotton pests—are practiced in organic cotton cultivation.

Natural wool: is obtained by the annual shearing of sheepskin. Pure new wool expresses that it comes from a living animal. Organic wool also comes from animal welfare. The quality of the wool depends on the body regions, age and origin of the animal.

Bamboo: is a rapidly growing grass plant. It can be harvested every 2-3 years without having to re-plant it. It uses less water for cultivation, no pesticides and improves soil quality. Fabric from bamboo is moisture absorbent, hypo-allergenic and anti-bacterial. Bamboo fabric is very soft to touch and is made use of in luxurious upholstery.

Kapok Fiber: comes from the Kapok tree and is 100% natural. The first and most important to notice is probably that kapok is wild grown and therefore it does not need any artificial watering! Kapok trees are native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. The “tree wool”, as kapok is called as well, grows in big pods on the trees and the ripe unopened pods are normally harvested by knocking them off the tree. Afterwards, the fruits are hulled and seed and fibre are removed from the pods by hand. A tree yields about 15 kg of fiber a year. For 1 kg of kapok you actually need 15 pods

TENCEL™ Lyocell fiber

Another product leading sustainability in the textile industry is TENCEL™ Lyocell fiber. The fibers originate from the renewable raw material wood, created by photosynthesis. The certified biobased fibers are manufactured using an environmentally responsible production process. The fibers are certified as compostable and biodegradable, and thus can fully revert back to nature. TENCEL™ Lyocell fiber have gained a commendable reputation for their environmentally responsible closed loop production process, which transforms wood pulp into cellulosic fibers with high resource efficiency and low environmental impact. They are found in the collections of many leading designers and renowned retailers because they answer both the demand for sustainability and style.

Final Thoughts

The construction industry is undeniably making a profound impact on the environment; thus, it becomes extremely important that companies work towards maximizing the positive benefits while minimizing its negative component. Sustainable buildings are designed to help reduce the overall impact on the environment and human health during and after construction.

Aside from a lower impact on the environment, green buildings also create healthier, more comfortable indoor environments for the people who use them. Protecting the planet and promoting the physical well-being of the occupants are equally significant. This is beyond important for the future of our society.

Our future and our children’s future depend on our efforts to be more green and our ability to use sustainable materials.

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