Daylighting in Schools

When properly designed and effectively integrated with the electric lighting system, daylighting can offer significant energy savings by offsetting a portion of the electric lighting load. A related benefit is the reduction in cooling capacity and use by lowering a significant component of internal gains.

In addition to energy savings, daylighting generally improves occupant satisfaction and comfort. Recent studies are implying improvements in productivity and health in daylighted schools and offices. Windows also provide visual relief, a contact with nature, time orientation, the possibility of ventilation, and emergency egress.

Project Description

Monitoring/Evaluation of Daylighting in Schools -- The Energy Center of Wisconsin monitored and evaluated four schools in various climate zones and geographic locations in order to study and understand the effects of daylighting on human factors and energy efficiency in a school setting. The four schools, all of which have daylighting incorporated into their building design, were selected as the demonstration sites based on their varied geographic locations, building design and willingness to participate in the study.

Lessons Learned

  • Light sensors must be properly located, and they must work
  • Dimming controls must work and be compatible with the light sensors
  • Better methods for darkening the classrooms for uses such as audio-visual equipment must be developed
  • Daylighting controls must be made more user-friendly
  • Daylighting must have the support of teachers and administrators -- staff training in use of controls and sensors is essential to success
  • Occupant behavior and understanding affects energy and cost savings