Shining a light on the welfare of future generations
Quality visual communication is key in achieving productive teaching spaces
The argument for upgrading lighting in schools to LED fittings is usually focused on the energy savings that could be achieved and the subsequent reduction in bills. Whilst this is of course a great advantage of switching to LED, the benefits extend much further than the balance sheet.
A comfortable working environment is inherently conducive to greater productivity and focus and a significant factor of this is the way in which a space is lit. Modern classrooms have evolved into flexible working spaces, hosting a variety of subjects and activities that require a range of suitable lighting options.
Lighting design must now incorporate sufficient flexibility in the technology to adapt to different lessons such as dimming capability and daylight harvesting sensors. By replicating a natural daylight environment using tunable white technology, lighting can help reduce the impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder and help to lower stress levels in the classroom. Such technology can help mirror our circadian rhythm, helping students to feel more active and alert during teaching time and adapting the light levels to help students relax during breaks.
Consideration must also be taken of colour temperature control as studies have proven that colour temperature has a significant impact on concentration levels and the critical rendering index of LEDs ensures that colours are seen correctly.
Concentration is also affected by flicker from outdated lighting technology, which can heighten stress levels in children. Poor lighting can also impact the visibility of the screen or whiteboard, and so by reducing reflective glare, children are more comfortable and engaged. When a good level of visual communication between students and teacher is achieved, classrooms are proven to be calmer, more receptive and performance improves.
The welfare of students and staff can also extend beyond the classroom to educational spaces such as sports halls and canteens, corridors, toilets, lecture theatres, libraries and science labs.
Minimal maintenance, minimal disruption
Significant savings can also be made in lighting maintenance when making the switch to LED. LED fittings use modern technology and more robust materials that offer enhanced durability, and as such require less maintenance by school caretakers. This allows the Maintenance team to focus their budget and efforts on other issues around the school.
Thanks to the significantly increased longevity of LED luminaires, they do not require replacing as frequently as their incandescent counterparts – LEDs can actually last at least 50 times longer than the typical incandescent fitting. This ensures reduced disruption in classroom learning thus helping improve the comfortability of the classroom.
Compliance and beyond
Educational Lighting Design must critically adhere to the compliance around working environments and ensure all areas are lit in line with LG5 and BSEN 12464 building regulations. Elements to consider in the design include lighting control, which should include a dimming capability for lighting near the whiteboard in order to accommodate teacher and staff presentations.
BSEN12464 focuses on guidance for quantity and quality of illumination and employs an environmental approach, stressing the importance of utilising daylight where possible to save on energy consumption and ensure the benefits of natural daylight are captured. Lighting controls must have daylight harvesting capability with dimming functionality for when sufficient daylight is available.
The regulation also provides a specification for the minimum luminance on the walls and ceiling which can be established using a basic calculation. For indoor working environments, cylindrical illuminance must be at least 50 lx on average with a uniformity (minimum/average) ≥ 0.1, which is to be calculated 1.2 m above floor level.
However, this baseline brightness level and the lighting required for optimum learning can be starkly different. Where the quality of visual communication holds particular importance, such as learning environments, cylindrical illuminance should not be less than 150 lx. Lighting design should therefore not only consider lighting levels but significant consideration should also be given to cylindrical illuminance and uniformity in order to improve visual communication and so giving people the best chance to learn and thrive.
From a manufacturer’s perspective, it is important to offer a portfolio of products that are adaptable to a range of learning spaces as no two classrooms are exactly the same. The specialists at Hilclare approach each project individually and seek not only to meet minimum requirements but also review the best option to provide optimum learning spaces. They can offer a point for point replacement solution or a full lighting design which may reduce install points, saving money whilst achieving high-quality visual communication levels.
Schools must spend their limited budgets wisely, not only seeking to save money but also identifying solutions that improve the wellbeing of their pupils. Investing in LED lighting impacts both performance in the classroom as well as savings on energy bills. The specialists at Hilclare can utilise their knowledge and extensive product portfolio to advise of the best lighting design solution to meet the requirements of each individual classroom.