Save Energy and Improve Education

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

Lighting Blog 17 - Education

Have you heard the news? A new study was released that indicates that good classroom design improves learning outcomes by up to one grade level. That’s outstanding! What was included in the well-designed classrooms? Daylight. There were other factors in this particular study, but over and over again daylight has been shown to improve student performance.

Daylight also saves energy, so this is a no-brainer! Let the sun shine in, turn down the lights and improve student test scores.

What are some other ways to reduce energy in education facilities? Energy consumption is a combination of watts and hours. Reduce watts or reduce hours and energy savings will follow.

Reduce Watts – Older schools are still using T12 fluorescent lamps. Replace those. Now. Some utility companies still offer incentives for replacing T12 lamps, even though manufacture of those lamps is being phased out in the United States. In addition to utility rebates, T8 lamp systems will save around $150 per fixture over the life of the lamps, depending on electricity costs, lamp life and hours of usage. T5 fluorescent lamp systems could save even more.

Reduce Hours – Typically, lights are switched on and left on for 10 hours or more every day. Reduce energy consumption by turning off unused lights. Use occupancy sensors in classrooms, restrooms and hallways to make sure unused spaces aren’t consuming when no one is there.

Use daylight harvesting to dim lights in brightly lit atriums, cafeterias and lobbies when the sun is providing enough ambient light. Daylight harvesting can also be used to dim classroom lights near windows.

Are metal halide gymnasium lights left on all day because of long restrike times? Replace them with fluorescent high bay lights and turn them off when no one is in the gym.

Make sure parking lot and exterior lights are on timers and/or photocells. Many places are starting to put exterior lights on occupancy sensors for increased security and energy savings.

It is the best of all worlds – save energy and improve education outcomes. Then apply those energy savings to other school improvements, teachers’ salaries or equipment purchases. This is a win-win!

Lisa J Reed photo - Lighting Blog

Lisa J. Reed has been attracted to lighting (like a moth to a flame) for 20+ years. She is the Founding Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC in St. Louis, where she designs, teaches, and writes about architectural lighting.


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