Lighting design for schools to promote wellbeing and energy efficiency

When designing the lighting for a school there are many factors that need to be considered. Beyond the primary objective of illumination, making the right lighting choices can help promote happiness amongst staff and students, improve productivity, and significantly reduce a school’s carbon footprint, whilst simultaneously cutting long-term energy costs. Take a look below as we explore each of these areas on a bit more detail…

 

Health and wellbeing

When it comes to lighting in a school, the primary concern should be the health and wellbeing of students and staff.  Natural light should be used wherever possible, due to the positive effect it has on mood, energy, and concentration levels. Whilst in most situations it is impossible to rely solely on natural light sources, there are alternative solutions available. 

 

Different lighting levels and colours have varying effects on an individual’s health, wellbeing, and mood: a paper published by Lighting for People found that introducing brighter, bluer, lights in the morning result in a positive influence on students’ mood. Similarly, mimicking natural daylight as closely as possible by using full spectrum or blue lighting, can help in the lighttreatment of disorders such as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

 

Another important issue that needs to be considered is the impact of glare from lighting on computer screens or monitors. Not only can screen glare have a negative impact on students’ work as they struggle to see the screen, it can lead to health risks as well, such as headaches and eye strain. Therefore, it is crucial that glare is limited as much as possible in rooms where computers or screens are used regularly by students and staff, by positioning screens away from light sources and out of direct sunlight.

 

Energy and cost savings

Lighting accounts for approximately 10% of the total energy used in schools, but there is scope to reduce this significantly by implementing low-energy solutions. As well as encouraging students and staff to follow good housekeeping measures - such as turning off lights in rooms that aren't in use, making use of natural sunlight, and clearly labeling light switches - converting lighting to LED is a great way for schools to cut down their energy consumption, as LED bulbs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent lighting (including halogen), and 60% less than fluorescent lighting. 

 

circle lightAlthough LEDs typically cost more than traditional alternatives initially, the long term savings far outweigh the investment. By replacing an old fluorescent system with modern LED lighting, a school’s energy bill can be reduced by up to 70%. Maintenance costs will also decrease due to the extended lifespan of LED bulbs. An LED conversion will reduce a school’s carbon footprint and substantially reduce energy bills, meaning the initial investment is invariably returned within a few months.

 

What type of lighting works best in each room?

Schools are extremely busy places, with rooms being used for different reasons, meaning there is a requirement to install specific lighting to fit the needs of each room. For example, classrooms require a cool, white light to boost concentration levels, whereas a warmer, softer light can create a relaxed ambience, better suited to a staff room. 

 

Schools must take additional factors into account when planning the lighting for specialist rooms such as science labs or sports halls, as these spaces may require specialised lighting solutions to assist the tasks being carried out. 

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Lighting the way in educational design             

When planning the lighting throughout a school or educational facility it is crucial to balance the  wellbeing of students and staff with the individual requirements of each room. Whilst a badly lit learning environment can negatively impact a child’s education, using low-energy solutions can help support productivity and wellbeing, significantly reduce energy costs and consumption, which helps the school manage both their budget and their environment.

Written by Kathryn Middleton - Lyco Group, For more lighting advice from Lyco, please visit https://www.lyco.co.uk/advice

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