Research has shown that working in natural light can make you more productive and give you an overall better sense of well-being. The improvements can be attributed to natural light’s effect on mood, vision, health, and mental alertness.
With that in mind, a growing number of U.S. schools and colleges have taken the initiative to manage natural lighting, also known as daylighting. PJHM has been using natural lighting distribution in architectural design for decades. One method of such distribution currently being integrated into PJHM’s designs is tubular daylighting.
Of course, the benefits of natural lighting in schools does not stop with student productivity and well-being. In consideration of energy consumption, natural lighting’s benefits can be tremendous. According to the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. schools spend approximately $8 billion a year on utilities with 26% of that energy consumption dedicated to facilities lighting. This exorbitant amount of energy cost is more than schools spend on textbooks and computers combined.
With utility costs constantly on the rise, new methods of natural light integration have become even more sought after. One of the most effective solutions PJHM has found is the tubular daylighting technology of Solatube.
Solatube’s patented tubular daylighting technology uses optical lenses and reflectors to capture sunlight and transfer it through a modular hyper-reflective tubing. This modular tubing makes it possible to distribute daylight throughout an entire school regardless of architectural design.
The technology produces the highest visible transmittance of light with the lowest solar heat gain. The result is ample room lighting with little to no rise in room temperature.
“We recognize the benefits of having natural lighting in the student and teacher environment. You have teachers in a classroom for 6 hours a day. Having natural lighting brightens teachers up; it makes them alert and we get the best out of our teaching staff. ”
– Bob Curley, Principal, Beacon Park School.
Principal Bob Curley, and many other educators just like him, recognize the great benefits that natural lighting can bring to his student’s as well as his staff. As noted in the video by PJHM Architect and Project Manager, Dave Bell, “Health benefits, learning benefits, energy benefits…There are so many positives to integrating daylighting in the classroom.”
The future of daylighting as a solution for sustainability is unclear. It is hard to say how much further the technology can advance. As photovoltaic systems and large capacity batteries become more prevalent in combating fossil fuel consumption, a new daylighting and solar battery hybrid system could be the next step to electricity independent design. PJHM is excited to see how technological advancements in sustainability will change the landscape of building construction and even more excited at the prospect of designing in that world.