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Improved Learning with Daylighting

It’s proven that a school’s indoor environment has a significant impact on student learning and staff effectiveness. In fact, studies have shown that many students attend schools that are so unhealthy it inhibits their learning. Daylighting is a key strategy for improving school environments, and it does more than brighten up a space. It has been shown to improve concentration, reduce behavioural issues and foster greater student achievement. It also promotes lower student absenteeism and higher faculty retention.

Schools today also have more on their agenda than educating students. Pressure to reduce operating costs, improve carbon footprint and provide healthier indoor environments has fuelled the push for green technologies. Often “green” means maximising what nature provides.

Solatube Daylighting Systems aggressively capture daylight, streaming nature’s light source into classrooms, halls, libraries, offices, and gyms. And since daylight is proven to increase test scores and attendance, it helps achieve building and education goals. Interestingly, it’s human performance factors like these that often directly impact school funding.

Key benefits:

  • Better test scores: In environments with the greatest amount of daylight, students progressed faster on maths and reading tests over the course of a year than students with access to the least amount of daylight (1)
  • Improved focus: Daylight can also help regulate students’ circadian (sleep/wake) cycles. Exposure to daylight helps keep the circadian system in balance, so students are more alert and focused in the classroom (2)
  • Quality matters: Daylight quality can impact student achievement on tests. One study (3) found that students performed up to 26% better on standardised tests when exposed to the most diffused daylight with the least amount of glare
  • Solatube complies with safety and building codes:
    • NFRC Testing. SHGC & U Factor
    • FM Approvals
    • Lighting Designs
  • Improve student health and performance with exposure to diffused daylight that enhances concentration and mood, reduces eyestrain and headaches, and leads to better test scores and attendance.
  • Cut operating costs and carbon footprint by displacing the need for electric lights during the day, eliminating the heat they generate and reducing cooling loads.

In the BRANZ guidelines developed for the Ministry of Education (6) they identify light as one of the top three critical design factors and that natural light should always be the main source of lighting. Most natural lighting comes with its own challenges; however, like increased glare, additional heat loads, unbalanced sources, and UV deterioration. Using Solatube it’s possible to mitigate all these challenges, discharging natural light evenly throughout the room at no additional operating cost.

The Solatube team can help architects increase the natural daylight in projects by using their unique daylighting calculator, generating a report that can be supplied to the client or council complete with all relevant information including: hourly data points, IES files, Candela Plots and Point to Point visualisations to demonstrate the high levels of natural lighting achieved with this solution.

While constructing a “green” school can cost on average 2% more than a conventional school, the return on investment is about 20 times greater. Savings can be realised through reduced operating expenses, lower student absenteeism and increased employee retention (4).

Sources:
1. Spector, M. (2012, May 1). Acoustics and Daylighting. School Planning & Management, Alberta Education report titled “A Study into the Effects of Light on Children of Elementary School Age”
2. Leslie, R. (2010). Patterns to Daylight Schools for People and Sustainability. Lighting Research Center
3. The Benefits of Daylighting. Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
4. Katz, G. (2006, October). Greening America’s Schools. The U.S. Green Building Council.
5. Zero Energy Buildings, EERE
6. Designing Quality Learning Spaces: Lighting, BRANZ

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