Case Histories (Real-World Solutions)
Tunable Lights for A Better Learning Environment
Fifth graders in Ms. Jones’
science and math classes at Dale B.
Davis Elementary School in Carrollton,
Texas are unusually curious about
measuring color temperatures using the Kelvin
scale, and the number of lumens emitted
from the bulbs of their classroom lighting
system. Since when do fifth graders study
such science? Generally, they don’t, but this
classroom has a new BLT Series Tunable
White Luminaire system manufactured by
Lithonia Lighting from Acuity Brands.
Today’s schools are adding smartboards,
tablets for student use, and flexible
furniture, but many classrooms across
the country still have outdated fluorescent
lighting with no dimming capability. The
old on/off toggle, sometimes combined
with shaded window, is a poor tool for
helping to manage the moods, alertness
and readiness for learning.
Outdated lighting systems are also
maintenance intense and energy inefficient.
The school district’s current
fluorescent lights deliver less consistent
illumination and require frequent maintenance
according to Victor Melton, Energy
Manager for the school district.
Catherine Hollenshead, engineer with
Estes, McClure & Associates, brought the
Tunable White lighting system with LED
and flexible controls to Davis Elementary
as part of a research partnership with Acuity
Brands. Tunable White creates a more
ideal classroom learning environment. It
allows the light color temperature to be
adjusted to optimal light levels for specific
One system with simple controls allows
the teacher to create scenes by controlling
the intensity of lights as well as dimming
in selected zones. For example, the teacher
can dim the lights at the front of the room
when the class is utilizing a whiteboard or
Jenna Jones, fifth grade math and science
teacher at Davis Elementary, confirms,
“It’s not just the grades. It’s how they
feel. They feel more in control. If they feel
in control, they will focus more and get it
done. That’s when they’re going to be really
Ms. Jones says she can change the
lighting scene in her room at the touch of a
button, which helps the students focus on
the task at hand. She now adjusts the lighting
four to six times each day.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.