Feature Focus: Intelligent Classroom Design
Why intelligent lighting sets the scene for learning and saving energy
In our second feature this month looking at intelligent classroom design we hear from Paul Jones, Director for UK & Ireland at B.E.G. – The Lighting Control Professionals, who explains how classroom lighting can improve learning and save you energy.
For schools, colleges and universities looking to refurbish their classrooms or open entire new buildings, implementing an intelligent lighting design is vital both for educational purposes and energy savings. It is widely considered that the way a room is lit plays a huge role in education as it sets the scene for four main methods of learning for students, namely visual, auditory, read and writing, and sensory. The layout of most classrooms is typically rectangular in shape with teaching zones designed with sightlines parallel to windows that provide daylight to the space, as well as sensory simulation and visual contact with the outside world.
Daylight through windows generally provides illumination through much of the school day, however, artificial lighting also plays a key role when a consistent visual environment is needed. Typically, classrooms are divided into teaching zones and student areas. Teachers tend to require supplemental lighting for delivering vertical illuminance onto white boards and blackboards, as well as video screens and projectors. For the latter, this may require the illuminance of the screen to be minimised while sufficient ambient light needs to be provided for students to take notes.
There are many other factors that needs to be taken into account when considering a modern-day lighting design of a classroom, including the
- Uniformity of lighting (the ratio of minimum illuminance to average illuminance on a surface)
- Contrast of lighting (for example a whiteboard may require 70 per cent reflectance in order to make it the main vocal point of the room, while a blackboard would need far less (around 20 per cent depending on daylight)
- Colour of lighting – crucial element of any lighting design project as this forms an integral relationship with light and can impact performance, mood, environment and health and wellbeing
- Glare of lighting – this occurs when lighting luminance is substantially higher than the lighting luminance to which a human’s eyes are adapted
- Flicker of lighting - poor fluorescent and LED luminaries if operated by poor quality power, can produce flicker which can be distracting and uncomfortable for students
- Reflections of lighting – these are images of a light source reflected by specular surfaces such as screens
- Modelling of objects – lighting needs to be used to add shape and depth to a visual scene
For decades, fluorescent lighting has been used in educational spaces, especially schools, however they have many disadvantages when it comes to learning, including health risks which have generally been well documented over the years. Therefore, it goes without saying, that LED (light emitting diode) fixtures are a must in a lighting design project. LED technology is highly energy efficiency, offers excellent controllability, high flexibility in terms of optical design, a high resistance to shock and vibration and long lifespan.
Director for UK & Ireland at B.E.G.