Nowhere is good lighting needed as in educational institutions. It not only improves the concentration of the students, it also enhances safety for all the people in the institution. Research has shown that lighting can have a negative or a positive impact on concentration. Lighting also impacts mood, engagement, energy, and alertness. Task-appropriate lighting can have a great effect in the classroom.
It is therefore crucial to choose good lighting fixtures that will create an environment that is conducive to learning. Color temperature is also very important in school and college lighting. Cool white light, like the one emitted by LEDs, is recommended as it makes students more focused and improves their performance. For institutions with small children, warmer light may be needed where children engage in calmer activities.
This guide will recommend the type and amount of light for different learning environments.
Recommended Foot Candles for Different Sections of Educational Institutions
- Staircases and corridors: 9-10 foot candles
- Entrance halls, cafeterias, and foyers: 18.5-20 foot candles
- Classrooms, computer rooms, libraries, gyms, sports halls, and lecture halls: 28-30 foot candles
- Kitchens, labs, and study halls: 46-50 foot candles
- Technical drawing rooms: 70 foot candles
Lighting Recommendations for Different Areas in Learning Institutions
Classrooms are arenas for many activities – like writing, reading, playing, acting, taking tests, and making presentations. Modern schools have different classroom layouts, depending on the activities and requirements. A good lighting system supports all activities by providing uniform brightness throughout a classroom. However, certain areas may need specialized lighting.
Studies have shown that tunable white luminaires can impact learning positively. Luminaires with a changing color temperature can have a positive effect on students’ ability to focus and perform better on tests. It can also reduce hyperactivity. Classrooms should not have light with glare as it affects concentration.
Entrance Halls and Foyers
In modern school buildings, entrance halls are places where students and staff communicate, visitors get information about the school, assemblies are held, and exhibitions are displayed. Entrance halls are multi-functional spaces and their lighting must be flexible enough to cater for various activities.
Entrance hall lighting is mostly switched on during the day because of different events. LED lighting, coupled with light sensors, can help reduce energy consumption in entrance halls. Dimmers can also decrease the light output.
Entrance halls and foyers are potentially hazardous as students mostly run in and out. 20 fc are needed in these spaces as the activity level is high. As these are transition areas from outdoor to indoor light, the higher luminance allows the eyes to comfortably switch from daylight to artificial light.
Corridors and Staircases
School corridors and staircases are multipurpose spaces that host a range of activities. They have very little access to daylight and require artificial lighting. Installing lights with sensors can help lower energy usage as these spaces usually have a varying presence of people.
A safe lighting system is also important because corridors provide escape routes. Luminaires should have independent energy sources and switch on automatically in the event of a power outage. Safety lights and escape sign luminaires can lead students to safety equipment and escape routes. Bright light that does not cause glare or harsh shadows is needed in corridors, staircases, and other circulation areas.
School cafeterias are places for eating, relaxation, breaks, and meetings. The lighting should be relaxing and inviting but also illuminate all the various activities taking place. Because of the high level of activity in cafeterias, more light is needed than in adjacent areas like corridors.
The lighting fixtures used in cafeterias will depend on the available natural light, the ceiling height, and the size of the space. Sometimes large pendants are used in dining halls. In modern cafeterias with low ceilings, recessed LED panels or downlights are used.
Libraries and Study Halls
In libraries, navigation is key. Good lighting helps students to find the right shelves and educational materials. Additionally, the light uniformity must be so good such that the books on the bottom shelves are equally visible as the books on the top shelves. The light fixtures used in these spaces must have a Color Rendering Index of 80 and above. Asymmetric luminaires can be mounted on top of each shelf or on the wall to provide even light.
In study halls, good reading light is needed. The lighting should have very high uniformity and no glare. Direct and indirect luminaires can be used to generate uniform light that enhances the study environment. A task light for each reading station is recommended to cater for individual needs.
Areas outside a school – like play areas, classroom exteriors, pathways, and car parks – should be well illuminated for teachers, pupils, and parents to boost safety and security. Teachers who go to work early must be able to walk safely into the school during the colder months when daylight hours are shorter. Educational institutions must also be well illuminated in the evenings – for meetings and after-school clubs.
LED outdoor lighting can illuminate school exteriors beautifully. Lights that are wet rated are perfect for exteriors as they are safe from moisture and water.
Switching to LED
Modern schools are filled with interactive whiteboards, flexible furniture, and electronic gadgets that promote advancements in education. Students can even control the pace of learning to some extent. But when it comes to lighting, most learning institutions still use outdated fluorescent lights that flicker, hum, contain mercury, and have a poor color quality and a short lamp life.
Learning in schools has drastically changed, and so should lighting. LED technology is the way to go as it is energy-efficient, environmentally-safe, recyclable, and has a long lifespan. A lighting upgrade can favorably impact a school budget as LEDs and lighting controls can significantly lower energy costs. LED lighting not only creates a great learning environment, it lowers maintenance costs and complies with lighting codes.
Read Part 2 of this Post