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31 Natural remedies for learning


It’s a given that schools need good quality daylight for good learning environments; Tony Isaac of Brett Martin explains why enabling natural light to enter has never been more important


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ood quality daylight is a readily available and sustainable natural energy resource, and one which is widely recognised as one of the best ways to improve the happiness and wellbeing of building occupants. It helps in not only maximising student performance and productivity, but also contributes to lowering a building’s energy use. Natural lighting should always be the main source of lighting in schools, but with daylight illumination falling off as distance from windows increases, the role that rooflights play in the provision of daylight can provide in facilities is crucial. The school environment is critical for promoting the wellbeing and resilience of children. After all, children spend more than 7,800 hours at school throughout their education and a large amount of time in the classroom. Studies have shown that students felt at their best under natural lighting, while teachers appreciate the low glare, good colour rendition and good behaviour demonstrated under the conditions created by rooflights. Daylighting the interior environment has a direct and positive impact on student and teacher performance. A study released by the Herschong Mahone Group, ‘Daylighting in Schools’, looked at the effect of daylighting and human performance. Analysing maths and reading test scores for more than 21,000 students from elementary schools in different regions of the western United States, the study found that throughout one year, students with the most daylight in their classrooms progressed 20 per cent faster in maths and 26 per cent faster in reading, compared to students who had less natural daylight in their classrooms.


The pressure on schools coming from the combination of shrinking budgets and ever-changing teaching requirements has meant that teaching spaces need to be flexible and adaptable. By introducing rooflights, including domes, vaults, pitched skylights or panel glazing systems, it is


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