lighting design for schools

A strong learning environment relies on good lighting. Our eyesight is so resilient that lighting design for schools are hardly aware of the handicap imposed by poor lighting but this might result in slower reading, little understanding of what we read and diminished concentration.

lighting design for schools

Generally, if regular maintenance, cleaning and replacements of the lighting system are carried out during school holidays then any initially excessive illumination can be reduced with consequent energy savings.

Common for all room types

  • A dim lighting level on the floors can be compensated by a perception of brightness by illuminating the walls e. g. by wall-washers – this will define the whole space.
  • By enabling daylight harvesting and adjusting levels accordingly, automatic lighting control may provide large savings. Sun blinds or curtains shall only be used when it is necessary.
  • Where downlighters are used as ceiling lighting, using lower glare in preferable.


  • lighting design for schools Traditionally, classrooms have large windows which enhance overall well-being but for use of screen projections, DSEs and smart-boards, effective ways of screening out direct sunlight must be available and easy to operate.
  • In larger classrooms, energy saving can be obtained by zonal control of the general lighting. Hence if daylight is sufficient near the windows, nearby rows of general lighting can be switched off, preferably by means of daylight sensor automation.
  • Concerning the general lighting, a balance has to be found between the need for a bright space to keep the students alert and the ability to see low-contrast screen projections, which can be difficult to see in a very bright space.
  • The general lighting can be optimized for reading, writing and communication by rather providing diffuse lighting with by an appropriate number of luminaires (several smaller luminaires are preferable to fewer larger ones) or by luminaires that project onto bright walls and/or the ceiling.
  • Lighting at an inconvenient height, i.e. in the line of sight of the students or directly behind displays should be avoided. Screens and projectors must be placed with screen surfaces perpendicular to window panes and ideally with windows on the left hand side.
  • For lighting designed to illuminate display screens and boards, the choice of luminaires and their position as well as the use of matte boards is crucial for the visibility and avoiding glare. Dimming control of the general lighting may also be necessary.
  • A conventional whiteboard light should be mounted with some distance to the board to ensure proper illumination of the lower part. However, if mounted too far away with a small horizontal beam, shiny reflections might bother students in the front row
  • Light that allows for good colour differentiation (useful in subjects such as chemistry, biology or design/ technology) can be provided by large windows facing north and luminaires or lamps with a spectrum close to daylight and with a high colour rendering index, e. g. Ra 90.

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