7 MAY 2007
Daylight + Schools = Health + Learning + Sustainability
by James Benya


In the past two decades, worldwide interest in daylighting has been renewed largely for reasons of energy efficiency. Innovations ranging from electro chromic variable transmission glass to special assemblies for hurricane survival typify the growing breadth of products and applications.

At the same time, medical and health research began to focus more on light and its affect on human health. Beyond sleep disorders, the profound role of the circadian rhythm and the cycles of endocrinal activity became undeniable, and the detection and triggering mechanism within the eye was finally discovered five years ago. At long last, a unified understanding of light and its impact on the human, including a wide range of impacts from vitamin D synthesis to the vast array of body activities directly affected by light, has been accepted.

Most recently, innovative research into student learning has revealed a strong relationship between light and learning. Children in most daylighted schools demonstrate improved test scores compared to those without. Exceptions include spaces where the researchers, trained in architecture and lighting, determined that daylighting was in some obvious manner inferior in design and application. Equally important is a growing body of evidence that people of all ages and in all occupations benefit from a number of tangible as well as intangible and intuitive effects of natural light.

The unfolding practice of sustainable design has most recently embraced the theory of biophilia as an essential part of advanced design. Probably the most essential component of a biophilatic environment is daylight. Studies conducted throughout the world as well as a growing number of codes and standards all support the need for daylight and view; while the cause is not yet totally clear, the effect is repeatedly demonstrated through research of many different kinds.

It is time for architects, engineers and designers worldwide to always consider these impacts in design for the built environment. Beyond good design practice, it is perhaps time to demand daylighted environment through codes and standards that make well daylighted buildings the rule, rather than the exception. In schools, where mankind’s future spends much of its waking hours, it is a no-brainer.

James R. Benya is a professional lighting designer and consultant with 32 years of experience. He is a Registered Professional Electrical Engineer, Fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (FEIS), a Professional Member of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), and is certified by the NCQLP (LC). His firm, Benya Lighting Design is a member of the US Green Buildings Council and an IESNA Sustaining Member.

Health, Architecture and the Sun
by Richard Hobday


Sunlight has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians practised sunlight therapy, as did the Greeks and Romans who had solaria on the roofs of their houses where they could sunbathe for health. So too did the occupants of the houses and apartments designed by Le Corbusier and other leading figures of the Modern Movement some two thousand years later.

During the first half of the last century – as in the ancient world – it was widely held that sunlit buildings were healthy and hygienic. In 1903 the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Niels Finsen, the Danish physician who put sunlight therapy at the forefront of medicine after centuries of neglect. In the years that followed, hospitals and sanatoriums were built so that patients with tuberculosis, rickets and war wounds could be exposed to the sun under medical supervision. Le Corbusier proclaimed in The Charter of Athens that: ‘To bring in the sun, that is the new and the most imperative duty of the architect’. Recent research supports this age-old belief: sunlit hospital wards have fewer bacteria in them than dark wards. Also, medical research shows that hospital patients with heart disease, clinical depression, jaundice, and those in pain recover more quickly when exposed to direct sunlight. There is also evidence that a sunlit environment benefits healthy people too, especially in the winter months, and that the light levels needed to promote wellbeing are much higher than those required for vision.

This presentation brings together historical evidence and contemporary medical research in support of a tenet once held by some of the most renowned figures in architecture: that sunlit buildings are much healthier than buildings that exclude the sun’s rays.

Richard Hobday is an independent consultant, researcher and lecturer. He is the author of The Light Revolution: Health Architecture and the Sun (Findhorn Press, 2006) and The Healing Sun: Sunlight and Health in the 21st Century (Findhorn Press, 2000). Dr. Hobday received his MSc and PhD from the School of Engineering, Cranfield University, where he specialized in solar design. An Energy Institute member and Chartered Engineer, he has been involved in a wide range of projects concerned with sustainability and health in the built environment.

Daylighting and Student Performance
by Lisa Heschong


Studies in the United States have shown an association between the presence of daylight and/or outdoor views and better student learning outcomes, as well a better cognitive performance in offices and sales in retail spaces. This presentation will detail the studies’ findings, methodology and implications for school design, along with discussing various hypotheses for possible causal mechanisms, such as circadian or mental stimulation.

Lisa Heschong is a principal of Heschong Mahone Group and a licensed architect who has divided her professional practice between energy research, writing and building design. As a researcher, she led the project teams which analyzed the impacts of daylighting on human performance for the Daylighting and Productivity Studies funded through PG&E and CEC. She also led the team that analyzed baseline lighting characteristics and created a computer model of lighting energy use for the State of California Energy Commission. As a writer, she worked with Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories to synthesize their research into Residential Windows: A Guide to New Technologies and Energy Performance (WW Norton). She is also author of Thermal Delight in Architecture (MIT Press), a co-author of the Advanced Lighting Guidelines, the CHPS Best Practices Manual, and the Skylighting Guidelines, all web-based publications. As a lighting expert, she has developed the successful web-based training program for the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) and conducted workshops across the country for DOE. She has published scholarly papers, written for trade magazines, and conducted numerous lectures and workshops across the country on issues of daylighting, high performance design, energy efficiency, and human comfort.

As an architect, Ms. Heschong has managed projects to design high-rise office buildings, K-12 schools, and residences. She has consulted on numerous school designs through the Bright Schools program of the California Energy Commission, and reviewed school proposals for the Office of Public School Construction. She also taught studio design at the Architecture Department of the University of California at Berkeley. She is experienced working with multi-disciplinary building design teams. She understands the construction process and the dynamics of getting a building project initiated, funded, designed, and occupied. Ms. Heschong is a member of IESNA, and is Lighting Certified. She was awarded her B.Sc. at UC Berkeley, Summa Cum Laude, and her Master of Architecture degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the AIA Medal.

Special school for disabled children, Sondeschule Schwechat, Austria
by Hemma Fasch


The concept was determined by two essential underlying criteria – specific requirements for disabled teenagers on the one hand and the lot being extremely exposed to traffic noise (both from air and street) on the other.

To the south, class rooms, craft and staff rooms are provided by a conservatory which acts as a buffer protecting them from noise and cold weather. By means of sliding roof shading elements, the amount of sunlight entering is regulated. This floor plan is expanded by shielded patios on both levels.

In order to express a natural and positive attitude toward physical disabilities and encouraging the pupils’ sense of self-acceptance when exercising or moving their body, the gym was located in the centre of the building as an open, translucent hall. Leading to the lowest level of the gym, a gentle slope provided with stairs to sit on serves as linking element between the adjacent garden and the common rooms of the school, the largest of which may be used as central meeting place for drama performances or school parties. There is also a school garden where pupils may plant flowers and vegetables which should encourage their relationship to nature and sense of responsibility.

All floor levels are reached by a glass-paned cascade staircase alongside the eastern and western façade of the building. Corridors and main rooms are illuminated not only by sunlight entering through the vast glasspaned facades, but light also enters from light bands in the roof. The light then is conducted by glass-panels in the corridors and winter garden through all floor levels into the building’s core areas.

Awarding authority: Sonder- schulgemeinde Schwechat, Wien; Kommunalleasing GMBH
General planning: fasch&fuchs
Statics: Werkraum Wien
Building services: Haustechnik Planungsgesellschaft
Building physics: Dr. Pfeiler, Graz On-site building inspection, Werner Scherhaufer, Wien
Project manager: Günter Bösch Team Florian Bylow, Eva Germann, Thomas Mennel
Competition: 2001 – 1st prize
Start of construction: 01/ 2004
Completion: 07/2006
Contract value: 7,7 million Euro
Gross floor area: 3,287 m²

Sonderschule Schwechat – Daylight evaluation
by Christian Vogt


Lighting Designer (IALD), Dipl. E. Eng. FH (1988). Educated in lighting technique and design at Universität Karlsruhe and Technische Universität Berlin (1989). Postgradual-Studium Lighting Technique, Lichttechnisches Institut der Technischen Universität Ilmenau (1989).

After having worked with lighting technique as project manager and group leader in Amstein+Walthert from 1989-97, Christian Vogt established VOGT & PARTNER in 1997.

Since 1994 senior lecturer in lighting technique and design at the Architecture Department, Zürcher Hochschule Winterthur. Since 1997 Senior Lecturer in Workplace Optometrie at Schweizerischen Hochschule für Augenoptik. Since 1999 Head of the diploma study “professional light planning in architecture” at Zürcher Hochschule Winterthur.

Member of Schweizerische Licht- Gesellschaft (SLG), Lichttechnische Gesellschaft Deutschland (LiTG), Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), European Lighting Designers Assoc. (ELDA+), International Assoc. of Lighting Designers (IALD).

Author of several technical papers and publications, awarded with

  • International Illumination Design Award 1997
  • USA, Judges-Award 2003 for the design of the lamp “Strawberry”
  • Red dot 2006: “best of the best” for “night elements”
  • Prix Lumière SLG 2006


Sonderschule Schwechat – user evaluation
by Ingeborg Schramm


Allgemeine Sonderschule Schwechat has been designed for children with special needs and different demands to the building. The presentation will include statements from parents of the pupils as well as statements from the teaching staff; what are the differences when comparing the conditions in the former school building with the new school – and how does the building design live up to the variable needs? The presentation will also include some examples of the possible impacts of daylight on the behaviour of the pupils. The open school gym is the centre and venue of the school. How has it been used – and which are the experiences from the first year of use – also as a centre for the surrounding community.

Ingeborg Schramm was born – and grew up in Schwechat. From 1981 to 1992 she functioned as religious instruction teacher at elementary and secondary modern schools in Schwechat and in 1994 she completed an education as teacher of German at secondary modern schools and as teacher at special schools – also including training as psychological adviser at elementary schools. Since 2000 teacher at the special school Allgemeine Sonderschule Schwechat and since 2003 head of this school.

Daylight in education
by Magali Bodart


From years, daylight is one of the key elements of each architecture project. It is known by architects that manipulating the light through design can evoke emotional response through our visual experience of form, space and texture. Moreover, in the framework of global climate change, the good integration of daylight in buildings leads to reduction of energy consumption and is a way to sustainable architecture. However, for most of the architects, daylight stays a theoretical concept as they never really take time to study and to experiment this field. For these reasons, it is essential to teach daylight to architects during their studies. Architect students of the “Université catholique de Louvain”, in Belgium have the opportunity to address the daylighting aspects through a project of “sustainable architecture” during the third year of their studies (bachelor 3rd year).

If precise daylighting evaluation can be done by computer simulation, the professorial team decided to let the student experience the light through work with scale models under artificial skies. Experience indicates that it is essential for architects to personally appreciate the luminous environment of a space and to compare several solutions quantitatively and qualitatively (i.e. the difference between diffuse light and direct light). This intuitive appreciation obtained by scale models and the three-dimensional perception of the light distribution cannot currently be obtained by use of computer simulations. Moreover, the correct use of a daylighting simulation program (like Radiance) is too complex to be taught in that context.

The Architecture Department of the Université Catholique de Louvain (ARCH – UCL) and the Belgian Building Research Institute (BBRI) decided, with the support of the Belgian government, to promote the use of daylighting in buildings, and, therefore, to provide architects, students and building designers with tools that could help them to improve daylighting penetration and distribution in their buildings. Consequently, a daylight laboratory was developed.

Magali Bodart, Civil engineer, PhD, M.Sc in Architecture and Sustainable Development, postdoctoral researcher and teacher at Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. Magali Bodart is involved in several international projects and is co-author of several publications; International Energy Agency, “Solar energy houses: strategies, technologies, examples” and “Passive Low Energy Innovative Architectural Design” (PLEIADE).

Daylight + Education + Tools, Introduction
by Jan Ejhed


There is an increasing interest in daylight and daylight planning in current architecture and urban planning. There are different reasons for this regenerated interest, e.g. sustainability and energy aspects, development of material and technological progress in the field of daylighting in architectural and building design.

The most important changes during later years are new knowledge showing the need of good daylight quality in our everyday environments for human well-being and health biologically and psychologically. The awareness of these factors raises the demand of an improved and extended education for the future.

  • The need of understanding of daylight qualities for a good building design and human related environments.
  • The current situation with a mix of traditional education methods and tools and modern computer programmes -How does it effect the daylight design of our buildings?
  • What are the tendencies, ideas and structure for the future? We successively replace manual methods with computer aided, it is logical, but do we miss something essential?

The complexity of the daylight planning process will increase and the design methodology and the design tools have to be developed and questions that have to be discussed are:

  • What do the new tools offer and what do we really need?
  • Is there a risk that we miss some really essential qualities?

Jan Ejhed, architect SAR/SIR/SA, is professor at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH). Jan Ejhed has been working in the field of lighting design in his own practice and in educational projects for more than 20 years. He works in both interior and exterior spaces, and has developed a number of innovative systems combining daylight and artificial light. Two of the most renowned projects he has worked on are the Modern Museum and Arlanda Airport, both in Stockholm. Jan Ejhed is president of the European Lighting Designers’ Association (ELDA).

Overview of Daylight Simulation Tools (Digital and Physical Methods)
by Zack Rogers


The simulation of annual daylight performance is a complex task given the highly variable and dynamic nature of daylight. There are a variety of both physical and computer-based simulation methods that can be used to predict daylight performance under the wide range of potential conditions. This presentation will provide an overview of the complexities involved in both static daylighting calculations (design conditions) and annual daylight simulation, and an overview of the various physical and computerbased tools available, illustrating how they can be used to assist in the daylighting design and analysis process.

Zack Rogers leads AEC (Architectural Energy Corporation) Daylighting Analysis Group and is an expert on the design and analysis of daylighting strategies using Radiance and Trace- Pro. Zack has served as daylighting designer and analyst on over one hundred projects, including the Indianapolis International Airport.

Climate-Based Daylight Modelling for Evaluation and Education
by John Mardaljevic


The daylight factor method, established a half-century ago, is still the most commonly used approach to determine a quantitative measure for daylight in buildings. The limitations of the daylight factor are manifest. Because it is founded on illuminance ratios under a standard overcast sky, the daylight factor is insensitive to both the orientation of the building and any notion of climate. Nevertheless it persists as the dominant approach because of its familiarity and simplicity rather than as a reliable measure of daylight provision. Recently developed computer simulation techniques can accurately predict luminous quantities using realistic sun and sky conditions that are derived from standard meteorological datasets. These climate-based modelling approaches reveal the true daylighting potential of buildings and can be used to predict a variety of illumination metrics at all stages of the design evaluation process. The application of climate-based daylight modelling to a range of building evaluation scenarios is described in this presentation. Working closely with practitioners on these studies, it became evident that the climate-based analyses caused them to fundamentally reappraise their understanding of daylighting and its relation to the built form. The presentation closes with a discussion of the role of climate-based modelling in the teaching of architectural daylighting principles.

John Mardaljevic, BSc, MPhil, PhD, Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development De Montfort University The Gateway, Leicester, has a first degree in physics, an MPhil in astrophysics and a PhD in daylight simulation. His first significant contribution in the field of daylight modelling was the validation of the radiance lighting simulation program under real sky conditions. John Mardaljevic has proposed a new climate-based metric called ‘Useful Daylight Illuminance’ as a replacement for the daylight factor.

State-of-the-art in Computer Simulated Daylighting
by Henrik Wann Jensen


New advances in computer graphics algorithms make it possible to accurately and rapidly compute the effect of daylighting in the interior of a building. This technology has been implemented by Luxion in the VELUX Visualizer, and it can precisely calculate the effect of daylighting in buildings created by the user. This tool makes it possible to experiment with design, verify, and observe daylighting in completely new ways.

Henrik Wann Jensen is the Chief Scientist at Luxion. He is also associate professor at the University of California in San Diego, where he is teaching computer graphics. He is the author of “Realistic Image Synthesis using Photon Mapping”, AK Peters 2001. In 2004, Henrik Wann Jensen received an Academy Award (Technical Achievement Award) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for pioneering research in rendering translucent materials.