Lighter Colored Flooring Can Create More Energy Efficient Classrooms

February 24, 2015 By Karen Henry

Light reflection energy saving Energy ManageBoosting the reflective value of flooring will enable more light — from artificial or natural sources — to bounce off the floor and illuminate a room more efficiently, according to a white paper, “Daylighting and Flooring: Don’t Overlook the Issue of Reflectivity,” issued by Armstrong Commercial Flooring.

The white paper explains that a key strategy in creating energy efficient education spaces is capturing abundant daylight and reducing reliance on artificial light.

Research conducted at Pennsylvania State University indicates that high-reflective flooring material can increase classroom daylighting levels and, in areas where daylighting is not a factor, can result in more efficient distribution of artificial light.

The study revealed that when floor reflectance is changed from 10 to 60 percent, the luminance levels in a corridor could increase as high as 30 percent while the magnitude in an empty classroom space could be as high as 45 percent. Raising the floor reflectance value in a classroom from 20 to 60 percent resulted in electricity savings between 5 and 7 percent.

According to the Advanced Energy Design Guide for K-12 School Buildings, a minimum 10-foot ceiling is recommended for daylighted classrooms, and when considering the finish surfaces of the ceiling, walls and floor, light colors ensure that daylight is reflected throughout the space.

Daylighting is increasingly becoming a green building design strategy, and LEED v4 now recognizes the benefits of high light reflectant flooring in the IEQ Lighting Quality Credit.

While some schools might shy away from lighter-colored flooring for fear that it would result in a glare that could distract students, glare from flooring is not related to reflectance but rather to flooring materials with a glossy finish. Lighter colored flooring with a matte finish has a high reflectance value but does not create a glare.

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