This week on the Bright Ideas series presented by Acuity Brands®, Sales Director Tom Schumaker joins us to explain how many K-12 schools tend to get facelifts over summer vacation. It’s a prime season for educational facilities to improve their classrooms with updates to their lighting and controls, which will benefit both students and teachers.
INCREASED CONTROL AND VERSATILITY IN CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENTS
Glare has always been and continues to be a major factor in classrooms because it affects eye strain, emotional well-being, and general comfort levels. All of these factors can affect a teacher or student’s ability to perform well, so it’s important for new lighting products to avoid distracting occupants in these environments.
All of these factors mean that modern classrooms absolutely have to employ easy-to-use, dynamic lighting options. Controls used to be complicated and tricky to program, especially with third-party equipment, but fortunately they are now growing easier to manage–– and in many cases what used to be added in classrooms as an extra expense, such as motion sensors, is now considered a necessary standard. State and local energy codes as well as building codes are now demanding such features in every classroom.
The improved availability of integrated wireless features like these is allowing for more activity-based and occupancy-based lighting that can produce savings in multiple areas. Less time and labor saves money during installations, additional costs and waste are saved with less wire material used, programming everything over apps on smartphones is saving time, and of course LED fixtures and automatic-off features produce massive energy savings as well.
Not only that, but now with these new features, classrooms can change more seamlessly as the years go by. Firmware and features can be upgraded without new materials or labor to adapt facilities further to the future.
IMPROVED MENTAL HEALTH IN EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES
Studies have also proven that occupant well-being in buildings is enhanced through proper color usage in lighting. Constant cold, harsh color temperatures throughout the day are actually not ideal for physical or mental health. Warming the lights to mimic the sun’s changes helps our bodies to follow their natural circadian rhythm, which helps to make students (and adults) more focused and productive.
Up until recently, price has also been a major factor that has kept under-funded school budgets from branching into these sorts of lighting improvements. However, now that fixtures with multi-color chips are now more available and more affordable, as well as easy to use: these tunable lighting options are easy for occupants to control and are very similar to dimmable lights that users may already be familiar with. As a result, there is an unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of color temperature changes in lighting to enhance learning and mental health.
In addition to the mental health of students, lighting also plays a major role in their security and safety–– especially outdoors. Higher-quality lighting contributes to increased peace of mind because it not only illuminates the spaces where passersby currently are, but also ideally the areas around them and wherever they are headed: eliminating shadows, and optimizing visibility where activity is more prevalent.
Areas between exit doors and vehicles are key, and old-fashioned clocks that simply turn off with a curfew are no longer acceptable when it comes to pedestrian safety. Smart, wireless lighting should be incorporated to work harmoniously with facility management equipment, and it should be easy to install right out of the box.
Many schools are also located within neighborhoods, so it’s advisable for them to employ fixtures with proper cut-off optics that can help reduce light pollution that might otherwise disturb nearby homes.
ARE THESE FEATURES REALLY TIME OR COST-EFFECTIVE?
There are resources available for anyone–– be they end-users, specifiers, contractors, or distributors–– to find experts and valuable information about the execution or cost of these valuable lighting solutions for their educational facilities.
LEDs are considered a standard technology now. They are now safer, more affordable, and more easily configurable than ever; with plug-and-play installations as a standard feature, rather than a nice-to-have. The mere convenience of having a light fixture already configured and ready to use upon installation is worth a great deal. And the good news is… lighting fixtures are only going to get better and smarter with time.To find out more about improved lighting fixtures available for K-12 schools and other educational facilities, visit acuitybrands.com/uvdisinfection. Next week, tune back in to hear from a national distributor account sales leader about new strategies between manufacturers and electrical distributors.
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