The use of natural light in green schools benefits students, teachers and administrators. By reducing energy requirements, natural light also offers an environmentally friendly means of bettering the bottom line.
The sun provides higher light levels than traditional lighting while reducing energy costs. Natural light affords excellent illumination of educational materials and this appears to improve test scores. A well known school-building study, completed by the Heschong Mahone Group, identifies test scores 7-26 percent higher for schoolchildren in classrooms with plentiful natural light than for those in classrooms with little or no daylight.
A study from Alberta Education, titled A Study into the Effects of Light on Children of Elementary School Age indicates that natural light does have a positive effect on health and on rates of achievement. Children in classrooms with a natural spectrum of light including trace amounts of UV radiation had 1.75 fewer cavities than children in schools with traditional lighting. Children exposed to high pressure sodium vapor lighting were absent 3.2 days per year more than students in classrooms with full spectrum light.
The Alberta Education study also linked scholastic achievement to natural lighting. Students exposed to high-pressure sodium vapor lighting demonstrated the poorest rate of academic achievement.
A Sacramento California study titled, Light Helps Pupils Learn, is one of the largest ever done on natural light in schools and it suggests children learn faster and do better on standardized tests in classrooms with more daylight. Learning rates were 26 percent higher in reading and 20 percent higher in math in rooms with more daylight.
Windows let in light and when opened they provide natural ventilation. Windows also provide visual access to the outdoors, from morning to night and season to season, this is important to our circadian rhythms and our sleep cycles.
Ideally natural light in a green school lets in light without glare, while preventing overheating and excessive UVs.
Cost efficiency, energy reductions, improved scholastic performance and health benefits make natural lighting a logical choice.
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