Choosing the correct lighting fixtures for your specific needs will be one of the most important decisions you make. Obviously, this applies to work areas in commercial buildings, just as it does in schools, retail locations, sports venues, and parking areas, to mention just a few. To make sure you’re going to have the right lighting, you should focus on the particular use the space will be used for.
Once you’ve started your lighting plan, you’ll discover there will be different requirements for the various locations on your property. For example, when putting together a lighting plan for a school, you should consider such factors as room atmosphere, mood, and maintaining a productive level of alertness for students, teachers, and staff.
Use of natural light should be first on your list of important lighting elements. Incorporate natural light for the mental, emotional, and physical benefit of individuals who will spend much of their time in each room. Research shows the health and concentration benefits of proper lighting, with the right combination of natural and artificial light.
Color temperature is one of the most important factors (perhaps the most important) in lighting design. You will be trying to achieve the correct amount of warmth or coolness with your light sources. The best way to understand this essential element is to discuss your options with a lighting expert. Ask about the measurement using Kelvins, to get the conversation started. Remember, you’re choosing lighting fixtures that will create an environment conducive to learning.
You may also hear the term foot candles when discussing light levels for schools, businesses, and outdoor spaces. This is a measure of light intensity, to put it in basic terms. It measures how much light is striking a specific surface from a distance of one foot. You will need more light (intensity) in lab areas, study halls, and work areas such as kitchens (45 to 50 foot candles).
Your plan can include lower foot-candle numbers for the entrance halls and corridors (10 to 20 foot candles), with light intensity somewhere in the mid-range for libraries, classrooms, and sports areas (in the 30 foot candles range).
The Perfect Light
It may not be possible to achieve the “perfect light” for every space, but with a basic understanding of foot candles, lumens, watts, and so on, you can get very close. Naturally, you should work closely with a lighting expert, someone who will help you illuminate your classrooms without glare and intensity that could affect focus and concentration.
When planning your lighting for entrance halls and corridors, keep in mind these are areas in which people are making a transition from outdoor light to indoor light. Make your choices so that this change is as comfortable as possible. Lower light intensity is best for that reason, but it’s best to avoid making the areas too dim.
Other areas you’ll focus on include:
- Study Hall
- Exterior space
Cafeteria lighting should be relaxing, while still providing adequate illumination. Consider recessed LED fixtures when you have a low ceiling, for example. Libraries and study halls should be consistent, uniform, without glare. It’s important to select fixtures that provide the proper color for these work spaces. It’s possible to achieve the required lighting levels and color with new, high-quality LED fixtures, which are extremely efficient and can save money in the long term.