The 3 L’s – Light Learning Lesson

By: Corey Johnson
17 September 2012

Getting to Kaibeto, AZ is no easy task. It took 3 connections, and the final leg of the trip was one of those little prop planes where the pilot is the both steward and safety director… Every seat was a window seat. Fantastic views of both the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon opened up to us along our journey. The date chosen for visiting the school and conducting our measurement verifications coincided with the second day of school of the new facility. Our first thought was one of disappointment, for not getting to the school earlier before the classes were already in session. Now we were going to disrupt every classroom. However, to our surprise, the timing became an incredible teaching opportunity!

In our attempt to go after LEED Silver for the new K-8 Kaibeto Boarding School, designing daylighting into the classrooms was a very important part of the equation. We chose to implement Option #3 “Measurement” for this design credit since we were combining both daylight from the large exterior windows, with Solatube skylights arranged in the depths of the classrooms. We could easily model both systems separately, but combining them proved to be a challenge. Solatube had its own modeling program for the 330 DSC, but attempts to load the parameters into our own daylighting program proved frustrating. We knew the classrooms would be well lit, but we had to prove it.

We turned off all the lights to measure the amount of daylight filtering into the classroom. The footcandles in all areas of the classroom measured acceptable levels for the artificial lights to be completely off. The classroom illuminated with nice constant soft daylight. We heard, “Can we leave it like this?” by one of the 4th grade students.

“How many footcandles do you think are under this skylight? How about over here in this corner? What is a footcandle?” The kids asked. The classrooms became an incredible learning opportunity for both pupil and teacher. By the time we had completed our daylighting measurements the classes were excited about relying on daylight to not only save energy, but to increase their own productivity and test scores. We don’t care how well the lighting models predict the outcome, because we will always take the time to measure the actual results.  In addition, it gives us the opportunity to demonstrate and teach daylighting principles and controls to the building users.

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