Sustainability in Action

Illuminated Learning - A Sustainability Test

Richard Garrett

Lighting is an essential aspect of classroom design and it plays a crucial role in advancing children's learning. However, creating a fully sustainable lighting scheme for a classroom while ensuring that it advances children's learning poses a significant challenge for installers and teachers alike.

In this blog post, we consider the challenges of creating a sustainable lighting scheme that enhances children's learning in primary and secondary schools.

What is sustainable classroom lighting?

Firstly, it's important to understand what we mean by "sustainable" lighting. Sustainable lighting refers to lighting systems that are energy-efficient, long-lasting, and have minimal environmental impact. Such lighting systems are designed to reduce energy consumption and waste while maximising lighting efficiency. In a classroom setting, sustainable lighting should provide adequate illumination to support learning while also minimising energy consumption and reducing your carbon footprint.

One of the challenges of creating a sustainable lighting scheme, including lighting connectivity in classrooms is balancing energy efficiency with adequate lighting levels. Lighting levels are crucial for creating a comfortable learning environment. However, overly bright lighting can cause discomfort and visual fatigue, while inadequate lighting can impair learning and cause eye strain.

Lighting installers must, therefore, strike a balance between energy efficiency and adequate lighting levels to ensure that the classroom lighting supports learning without wasting energy. This poses different challenges depending on the learners age as well as the teachers learning plan for the particular stage of the curriculum that they’re teaching on a given day.

Additionally, installers must consider the impact of lighting on the environment. Without a solid lighting control system, the chances that a classroom is not optimised for energy savings is high. A schedule that dims the lights down between the core teaching hours also fails to be intelligent enough to reflect the genuine need for lighting in the classroom. Without a control system that enables teachers to optimise a pupils onboarding of knowledge, it’s likely that they will end up with a flat, uninspiring lit effect which continues even when the classroom is no longer in use. A control system for the classroom should enhance a pupils learning (see our suite of educational lighting materials here to find out more) whilst being intelligent enough to know when, exactly, the classroom needs light at all.

Often, we consider the sustainability of classroom lighting to surround the useful life of the system. While this is important, it’s also essential that you understand the sustainability of the luminaires themselves from their point of manufacture through toit’s recyclability once it’s burning hours have maxed out. We highly recommend getting an EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) for every product you intend to use on an installation for any school or university. If you are planning on installing a Thorn solution in the near future, get in touch and we can supply our standard third party accredited EPD for each product you plan to use on the project, both inside and out.

Lastly, teachers must understand the impact of lighting on children's learning and wellbeing. Adequate lighting levels can improve student concentration, reduce visual fatigue, and enhance overall wellbeing. On the other hand, inadequate lighting levels can impair learning and cause visual strain, headaches, and fatigue. Teachers should, therefore, work closely with installers to ensure that the classroom lighting supports student learning and wellbeing.

In conclusion, sustainable lighting should strike a balance between energy efficiency and adequate lighting levels, incorporate natural light, minimise environmental impact, and prioritise student learning and wellbeing. By working together, lighting installers and teachers can create sustainable lighting schemes that support student learning while minimising energy consumption reducing carbon footprints and also cost.

Key Considerations for lighting in education spaces:

VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL ILLUMINANCE - To highlight all learning surfaces around the classroom.

EN12464 - Controlling the light where needed

GLARE CONTROL - Maximising learner comfort

CYLINDRICAL ILLUMINANCE - To aid learner to educator communication

CRI90+ - To enhance colour recognition and balance the right light vs the installed efficiency

More educational lighting materials can be found HERE