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adding smartboards, tablets for student use, and flexible furniture, but many classrooms across the country still have outdated fluorescent lighting with no dimming capability.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Outdated lighting systems are also maintenance intense and energy inefficient.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 classroom activities.

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 A/V screen.

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 successful.”

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.

www.acuitybrands.com

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

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