Lighting is a critical element in the school environment. Lighting can influence behavior1,2, satisfaction3, psychological responses to a space and task performance , communication and interest , visual comfort and safety and security, while defining space and architecture.
Learning environments have changed dramatically over the past several decades. Not only have teaching methods and technologies evolved, so has our understanding of what makes good lighting, which should be delivered within tightening code constraints.
Classroom lighting should support the educational experience by providing a comfortable, attractive environment for students and instructors. While target illuminance on task surfaces is important, it is now understood that how light is distributed to reduce glare and shadow is even more important for visual comfort and task visibility.
Educators are using new methods. According to American Digital Schools 20087, education trends to watch include computerized classrooms and adoption of interactive whiteboards, which display projected media. All public K–12 schools now have Internet access, and the number of students per computer with Internet access dropped 75% percent from 12% in 1998 to 4% in 2005. Lighting originally designed for black chalkboards and a single horizontal task plane is clearly inadequate for hi-tech learning environments, which have particular lighting requirements.
The above lighting demands should be met on a leaner energy budget. Education buildings consume some 109 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electric energy (per year), of which 33 billion kWh, or about 30 percent (30% of electricity, 14% of electricity + other fuels), is allocated to lighting. This lighting energy consumption translates to 11 kWh per square foot, or $0.82 per square foot at an average utility cost of $0.075 per square foot.
A significant number of schools are being built according to sustainable design principles as defined by green building rating systems, such as daylight and energy efficiency. Energy standards are restricting lighting power allowances and mandating a growing list of lighting controls in schools and universities.
This Recommended Practice was developed to enable school and college administrators to understand the importance of the role that lighting plays in educational environments, to be able to convey to architects and other designers the needs for appropriate provisioning of lighting, and enable architects, engineers, lighting designers, and other lighting decision-makers to ensure that their lighting criteria are consistent with good current practice. It addresses all levels of education, from preschool to continuing professional development.