Tunable White Lighting Earns High Marks for Enhanced Learning

June 26, 2017 Neil Egan

Tunable White lighting is really making the grade in today’s classrooms.

A recent study revealed that fourth grade students in a classroom equipped with LED lights that could be tuned to warm, neutral or simulated cool natural light scored higher on math tests than their peers in a classroom with standard fluorescent lighting. Several other studies – in a variety of grade levels, including college classrooms – have shown similar results.

The ability to tune the color temperature of classroom light, based on the activity or task at hand, is one of the most significant advances in modern-day education. Couple this with the fact that these LED-based systems contribute to significant energy savings and lower utility bills, and Tunable White lighting in the classroom has great appeal for all stakeholders.

Lisa Williams, principal at Davis Elementary School in Carrollton, Texas, has seen the benefits firsthand. After one of her fifth grade classrooms was fitted with a BLT Series Tunable White luminaire system from our Lithonia Lighting® brand, the impact on mood and performance was immediate.

“With (the new) lighting, students have achieved a higher level of focus, ability to pay attention and being engaged with the work,” Williams observed, in this video about the new system. “I would love to extend it all over the school. It’s impacting the learning and engagement of the students.”

Today’s classroom is a flexible learning environment, so flexibility is key for lighting and controls as well. In a typical classroom scenario with Tunable White lighting, the teacher can easily adjust both the warmth/coolness of the light and the brightness with just the touch of a wallpod – cool and bright light in the morning, when sleepy students arrive; warmer light for reading or independent study; and dimmed to nearly dark when a session using an interactive whiteboard is underway.

Interestingly, the students themselves are appreciating the benefits, too. At Davis Elementary, and in other schools where Tunable White lighting systems have been installed, students will frequently remind their teachers to adjust the lighting to fit the classroom activity. In fact, one Davis Elementary fifth grader noted that he’s worried his grades will suffer when he moves to 6th grade – back to a room with standard lighting.

For states that have adopted IECC 2015 or other lighting codes, newly constructed schools or those undergoing upgrades find that combining LED lighting with controls is an even more essential and cost-effective solution, given its energy efficiency and reduced need for maintenance.

School system facility managers who are exploring Tunable White classroom lighting should consider four key criteria when evaluating options: cost-effectiveness and ROI; ease of installation; measurable impact on student performance; and the presence of intuitive controls for teacher/student use.

To learn more about how well-planned classroom lighting solutions can have a positive influence on learning and well-being, and to learn how schools are using them, please click here.

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