Most parents and educators want to help students learn all they can. And recent studies have shined new light on how to improve student test scores by design. For some, it’s as easy as shining more natural light on the subject through daylighting.
Daylighting is the result of using natural light and the reflections from it by design, to enhance interior surroundings, and ultimately, the enjoyment and productivity of the people using the buildings.
The proper use of daylighting can help enhance the outlook and output of people enjoying more natural light.
A 1999 report prepared by the California-based Heschong Mahone Group, Inc., “found a uniformly positive and statistically significant correlation between the presence of daylighting and better student test scores in all three districts” included in the study.* They also reported “the positive effect of daylighting was distinct from all the other attributes of windows.”
In 2003, Heschong Mahone Group, Inc., prepared a report for the California Energy Commission on student performance and the indoor environment. They reported that their “studies of the classrooms showed that windows and the resulting lighting quality in classrooms are very much a key issue in learning, and can have both positive and negative impacts on student performance.”
Direct sunlight can negatively affect student performance
Although studies have shown increased test scores in students who learn in daylit schools, direct sun can have a negative impact on performance.
In the 2003 Heschong Mahone Group, Inc. report, they stated that “sources of glare negatively impact student learning” and “when teachers do not have control of their windows, student performance is negatively affected.” In addition, “direct sun penetration into classrooms, especially through unshaded east or south facing windows, is associated with negative student performance, likely causing both glare and thermal discomfort.”
The R.D. and Euzelle Smith Middle School in Chapel Hill, N.C., is an example of how incorporating daylighting into a building’s design can yield energy savings, comfort for the building’s occupants and a return on the added investment in daylighting.
Smith Middle School’s windows have manually-operated blinds. The Lighting Research Center of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute surveyed more than 130 students, faculty and the school principal about the lighting at Smith Middle School and found in general “they like it.” One specific finding from the survey was teachers “like having the ability to control the amount of light via the window shades.”
John Montoro of The Montoro Architectural Group, P.C., of Saddle River, N.J., chose Pella® Designer Series® windows with its exclusive blinds protected between panes of glass, for a school built in the Matawan Regional High School located in Aberdeen, N. J.
“I am always comfortable working with Pella. Since this was a school project, we wanted a product that had been around, that was proven and tested. Aluminum windows didn’t meet the design criteria, and the client was looking for windows with integrated blinds or shades and windows that didn’t make the building look like a store front. The Pella Designer Series windows met their needs,” said Montoro.
“With the blinds between the glass, the Designer Series windows were a unique match to the needs of the project. The client needed blinds in the classroom, but they didn’t want interior [room side] blinds that could be damaged by the students,” added Montoro. Plus between-the-glass blinds, when compared to room side blinds, reduce solar heat gain by 43 percent while improving the total window U-value by 18, according to the “American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Fundamentals Handbook.”
New Designer Series leads way with quality, convenience
Pella recently introduced its most stylish innovation ever — Pella Designer Series windows and patio doors featuring convenient between-the-glass window treatments. The exclusive Designer Series collection provides the ease of simply snapping out the blind or shade and replacing it with a stylish new color as needs and tastes change. Designer Series windows and patio doors allow room for both a window treatment and a muntin protected between panes of glass for the ultimate in design flexibility.
Designer Series window treatments between-the-glass are safeguarded from damage in high traffic commercial facilities like schools, restaurants, hotels and other public buildings. Blinds and shades stay clean and virtually dust-free, while also alleviating allergy-aggravating dust conditions.
Fabric shades which open from the top down add to the convenience of the collection, allowing natural light in from the top, while covering the bottom of the unit. Pella Designer Series shades and blinds extend to the inside edge of the window sash. Shades are available in light-filtering and room-darkening options, perfect in libraries, classrooms, conference and media rooms. The new Designer Series collection also features sleek cordless operation, with literally no room side cords attached to blinds or shades, for greater convenience and safety.
The Designer Series collection also provides outstanding value and performance. Double- and triple-pane glazing options keep rooms warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Based on computer simulations, double-paned glass can reduce energy costs up to 17 percent and triple-paned glass can decrease energy bills by as much as 28 percent compared to a single-pane wood window. Pella’s between-the-glass blinds or shades can further help increase overall energy savings. Tinted glass another option to reduce glare
“Although the most effective way to reduce glare is with blinds or shades or exterior shading devices, tinted glass can also help reduce glare,” said Pella Commercial Market Manager Terry Zeimetz, AIA. According to Zeimetz, a gray tint is most effective followed by bronze and green. All of these options are available on Pella windows and patio doors.
Daylighting adds to design solutions
Cool daylighting is the use of natural light to illuminate buildings more effectively and efficiently in ways that control the brightness of light sources and limit solar heat gain.
“Sunlight is the coolest form of visible light. Cool daylighting involves controlling natural light with shading and glazing,” said Abby Vogen, project director for the Daylighting Collaborative, a program of the Energy Center of Wisconsin.
Local Pella architectural consultants in conjunction with Pella Corporation's Architectural Services Design Group, which includes architects, engineers, technicians, and CAD drafters, provide expert assistance for architects and builders — including how to optimize daylighting using windows and doors.
“The combination of shading with good performing glass keeps heat from coming in,” said Vogen. “You don’t need a glass building to have daylighting. The consideration of glazing and where you put it can reduce first costs associated with artificial light and heating ventilating and cooling systems.” The authors of the 2003 Heschong Mahone Group, Inc., report made several recommendations about classroom design and material selection, including adding “dual pane low-e glass to reduce sound transmission from outside the classroom and improve overall thermal comfort” and to “shade all south and east facing windows from the direct sun.”
Pella's Architectural Services Design Group helps develop window and door solutions which range from providing installation designs, shop drawings and details to field testing assistance. They can provide expert advice on the optimal pla