Natural Light and Education: The Benefits of Daylighting for Schools and Colleges

The Benefits of Daylighting for Schools and Colleges

Over the last decade, many of the world’s biggest businesses have made daylighting in the workplace a priority. From improved productivity to better sales, turning off artificial lights and opening the curtains has been a huge help for businesses.

Now, a growing number of schools and colleges are taking the initiative and making natural light a key architectural focus. Natural light offers a wide variety of benefits in an educational environment, from improved focus to better student health.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the biggest benefits of daylighting for schools, colleges and other educational environments. Read on to learn how your school can create a more focused, productive and happy learning environment using natural light.

Natural light improves standardized test scores

In 1999, a study was carried out by the Heschong Mahone Group – a consultancy in the energy efficiency industry – that revealed an interesting fact about environment and education: children score better on tests in naturally lit classrooms.

The difference between tests taken in an artificially lit environment and those sat in a naturally lit environment was by no means small. In fact, the study revealed that a 25 percent improvement in test scores occurred in naturally lit environments.

Experts believe that the increase in test scores can be attributed to a number of key benefits of natural light, ranging from improvements in mood and mental alertness to improved vision.

Natural light eliminates common distractions

During the 1970s, architects scaled down school windows in an effort to remove any visual distractions. The idea was simple, albeit completely wrong – big windows can cause students to look out into the environment instead of focusing on their work.

Decades later, many of the same architects are taking the opposite approach, with a far better result. Far from making students more distracted, natural lighting actually makes students significantly more focused and less distracted from their work.

Experts aren’t sure why daylight reduces time spent on distractions, although one theory claims that since students are free to look around, they’re less likely to find distractions within the classroom.

Natural light makes students more efficient

Just like natural light increases productivity and efficiency in the workplace, it also improves productivity in the classroom. In a 1991 study, the Alberta Department of Education found that students read faster in classrooms lit using natural light.

The study, which analyzed the results of more than 21,000 students in Canada and the United States, found that students progressed 26 percent faster on reading tests and 20 percent faster on math tests in classrooms that were lit by natural sunlight.

From kindergarten to college, the significant increase in learning speed that natural light makes possible can have a significant positive effect on achievements and test scores, creating a more productive and successful environment for students.

Natural light improves health and growth

In addition to improving educational achievement and learning skills, exposure to natural light improves overall health. A 1987-1991 study discovered that students that studied in naturally lit classrooms had a range of health advantages:

  • Their teeth were healthier, with significantly fewer dental caries
  • Their body height and weight gains were linked to light exposure
  • They were less likely to be absent from class due to normal illness

Interestingly, the same study also revealed that students that studied in artificially lit environments had the lowest rates of educational achievement, the highest level of absenteeism and significantly more dental caries due to low sun exposure.

Natural light is completely free of charge

Depending on artificial light has more costs associated with it than poor academic performance and a higher number of student sick days. In addition to its negative effects on school performance, artificial light costs a huge amount every month.

With the price of energy on the rise, being able to inexpensively light your school or college is a massive financial advantage. By reducing your utility bills using natural light, you’ll have a larger budget to spend on important educational activities.

Schools and colleges, particularly those in sunny states like California, can enjoy an extensive range of benefits from natural lighting. Consider daylighting today for a more productive, healthy, cost-effective and motivated learning environment.

“Image courtesy of GeoffreyWhiteway /”

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