Hot Tips (Daylighting Techniques)

Better Light, Better Schools

There was once a time when windows were primarily viewed as an opportunity for distractions amongst youngsters. Walk into a classroom built circa 1970 and there is decent chance small windows will line the walls. This was before the benefits of daylighting, designing to get the most out of natural light, became apparent.

Of course there is the obvious benefit. More light coming in through the windows means less of a need for artificial light, equating to a lower power bill. Obviously this is better for the environment as well; however, the benefits of natural lighting extend beyond the fiscal. For example, daylighting has also been shown to increase student testing scores and performance. Further, artificial lighting has been found to increase fatigue and levels of stress amongst students. Day-to-day this can have a compounding effect, leading to long-term negative outcomes on our youth. On top of which, increases in natural lighting have been linked to higher attendance rates among students. Ultimately, daylighting leads to a more positive school environment.

When implementing daylighting techniques, a best practice is to install reflective floors to get the most out of the light coming in; however, it is important to take glare into consideration as to not distract students. Also, higher windows are the most effective in allowing the optimum amount of light into the classroom. Thoughtfully placed skylights can be particularly effective, especially in interior rooms which lack window accessibility. Brightly colored interiors can go a step further in leveraging natural light to its fullest potential.

The benefits of daylighting are readily apparent; however, proper steps should be taken in the design phase to ensure students and faculty receive the maximum benefits that come once you let the natural light in.

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

About the Author

David Velarde is the Operations director of the Mountain Region for Gordian. He can be reached at D.Velarde@gordian.com.

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