Higher levels of ambient lighting = better study results

It’s a well-known fact of life that light makes us feel good. Light affects us not just in a visual sense, but biologically and emotionally as well. New research has shown that good lighting actually increases job satisfaction in learning environments.

The results of a study by Lund University and the London City University shows that the human body’s own days clock, the production of melatonin and cortisol are affected in environments where light levels are high enough and there is a balance between direct and indirect light.

This is a breakthrough. For the first time, we can clearly see how light can affect students’ performance, alertness and well-being,” said Tommy Govén Head of Lighting Technology and Research at Fagerhult, who participated in the study with the university departments in Lund and London.

Increased ambient light

The study took place at a primary school in south-west London and was carried out in four different classrooms with pupils in the 8-9 age group. All classrooms were equipped with new lighting and the two experimental classrooms with more ambient light in relation to the two control classrooms. Instead of the usual illuminance of around 100 lux in light on the walls and ceiling, about 300 lux was used.

Improved student performance

When the scientists compared the how the children had performed in maths, reading and writing, the results showed that the students sat in the ‘ambient’ light classrooms performed much better. Especially during October and January: the darker period of the year. In addition to the results they also had more energy in the morning, especially during the dark periods, and a tendency towards being generally healthier throughout the entire school year.

A concrete conclusion is that the illuminance in the ambient area of most classrooms in our schools is too low when looked at in relation to what is actually required for the pupils to feel and perform better. Ceiling and wall lighting around 100 lux is common in many schools today, says Tommy Govén.

Lighting control

Enhancing the ambient lighting in the classroom produces an increase in well-being and better study results – without increasing energy consumption. New solutions with daylight and presence control optimise energy usage and compensate for increased levels of ambient light.

The study also shows that artificial light with appropriate light distribution can compensate for a reduced addition of daylight within the ambient area. Another positive aspect is that these lighting levels can actually be achieved without a significant increase in energy consumption, provided that the installation is planned with daylight and presence control. In all respects, from the point of view of energy efficiency, it is important to take daylight into account.