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Flex Your Power!
 The Division of the State Architect's Sustainable Schools Resource
Energy Resources » Daylighting and Controls

Energy Resources

Daylighting and Controls

Daylighting, like natural ventilation, is not a new concept in architecture, but rather a forgotten practice. Schools using daylighting save energy by reducing the demand for electric lighting. For schools there is an added benefit. Studies have shown that daylighting can improve student performance (Heschong-Mahone Group, 1999).

There are various methods of bringing daylight into buildings, including clerestories, skylights, light tubes, and reflective surfaces. Proper daylighting designs use diffused outdoor light rather than direct sunlight. Direct sunlight creates glare and can detract from visual comfort.
Daylighting usage in a classroom allowing for little or no need for electric lighting.

In order to take advantage of natural outdoor lighting opportunities, large windows can be located on the north side of the building, or on the top of the building where the light has the opportunity to reflect into the room rather than enter directly. Light can be brought in through the south side of the building using various daylighting techniques that block the direct sunlight from entering the building.

In order to reap the full energy benefits of daylighting, systems should be integrated to work with electrical lighting systems. Following an integrated design approach to lighting, the two types of lighting systems would be used efficiently together, at appropriate times and needs of the day, so that electric lighting isn't on when it is unnecessary. To do this, lighting sensors and automatic dimmers can be installed that adjust the electric lighting level based on the amount of daylight entering the room.

Featured Resources

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
(Best Practices Manual Volume 2: Electric Lighting and Controls Section & Daylighting and Fenestration Section) CHPS aims to facilitate the design of high performance schools in California - environments that are not only resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities needed for a quality education. CHPS has developed a set of Best Practices Manuals (available at to create a new generation of high performance school facilities in California.

California Energy Commission (CEC) - Bright Schools Program
The Bright Schools Program offers specific services to help schools become more energy wise, at little or no cost to the schools. This program can provide design consultation, identify cost-effective energy-saving measures, compare different technologies, develop specifications for energy-efficient equipment, help select architects and other design professionals with school construction and energy-efficiency expertise, review construction plans, and complete value engineering of specific energy-efficiency measures.

Heschong-Mahone Group
The Heschong-Mahone Group is a leader in investigating the effect of daylight on human performance. This website contains a report that includes a focus on skylighting as a way to isolate daylight as an illumination source, and separate illumination effects from other qualities associated with daylighting from windows. In this project, they established a statistically compelling connection between lighting quality, natural ventilation, and student performance.

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF)- School Lighting
NCEF's resource list of links, books, and journal articles on indoor and outdoor lighting of school buildings and grounds, including resources on security lighting, and sports facilities lighting.

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