Until the 1950s when electric power costs declined, natural light was the primary means of illuminating most school spaces. Recent studies have shown adverse effects on learning outcomes from fluorescent lighting, resulting in a renewed interest in increasing natural daylight in school buildings. Natural daylight has been shown to increase concentration and learning, while providing an uplifting effect on feelings, well-being, and health. The most cited evidence about the effects of daylight is a study by the Heschong Mahone Group that covers more than 2000 classrooms in three school districts.
The study indicated that students with the most classroom daylight progressed 20% faster in one year on Math tests and 26% faster on Reading tests than those students who learned in environments that received the least amount of natural light.
In most cases, some form of artificial lighting will be required throughout the school. When designing lighting for classrooms, chose a system that’s easy to control. As information and communication technology becomes more advanced and more useful for K-12 classrooms, it is imperative that indoor lighting is easy to dim or increase as needed.