The Unsung Superhero of Education

The Unsung Superhero of the ClassroomWe all want the best for our children, and one of the most important ways we can help the next generation is by ensuring that they are receiving the highest quality education they can. But what if I told you there is an element to education that most people overlook when discussing ways to change education, even though it has been proven to improve behavior and focus, reduce disruptions and increase reading speed and learning capacity?

Though often overlooked, classroom environment plays a crucial role in students’ abilities to focus and learn. Think about it. If you want to be really focused and productive, where do you go? All people – children included – have different learning styles, and they are very much affected by the environments in which we learn. That is why it is essential that educators take the time to learn about all the ways lighting can impact a classroom, both positively and negatively.

First, let’s talk about color temperature. Color temperature is something that many educators don’t know to watch out for, but it can have a dramatic impact on the success or failure of a classroom as a learning environment. The warmth or coolness of light is measured in degrees Kelvin, where higher temperatures (above 3,500 Kelvin) equate with cooler, more vividly white light, and lower temperatures (below 3,500 Kelvin) are warmer and more yellow. Research has shown that full-spectrum, cool white light is best for encouraging concentration in a classroom, so swapping out outdated fixtures for newer technology could be a great start to better classroom lighting.

Although fluorescent fixtures are popular in schools, the way they flicker (often imperceptibly) has been linked with eye strain, fatigue and headaches, all of which contribute to poor concentration. For this reason, LEDs are a better option in places like classrooms and offices. Not only do they reduce fatigue, but they are extremely energy efficient, long-lasting, and often capable of changing their color temperature or dimming in brightness. These qualities make this type of light a fantastic investment for a classroom environment. (more…)

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Lighting Upgrade Tax Incentives to Expire in December

Don't miss out on tax incentives.If you’re considering a switch to LED lighting in your commercial building, but you’re still on the fence, you shouldn’t hesitate for too long. After December 31, 2013, two primary tax incentives for upgrading your lights are set to expire – the Section 179d EPACT Incentive and the Bonus Depreciation Incentive.

If you’ve never heard of these opportunities to help make up for the initial cost of new LEDs, allow me to explain…

The Section 179d EPACT Incentive allows you to deduct 60 cents per square foot on lighting upgrades. This incentive is part of The Energy Policy Act of 2005 to encourage the construction of energy efficient buildings. It also includes deductions for HVAC systems, building envelopes, and service hot water systems that reduce the total annual building energy costs by 50% or more compared to ASHRAE 90.1-2001 minimum requirements. It’s available to owners of both new and existing commercial buildings. (more…)

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5 Ways To Choose An LED Light Bulb

LEDs are at the forefront of light industry discussion because they are such a gamechanger when it comes to energy efficiency and lifespan. But how do recent developments to LED technology affect the everyday consumer? What’s the simplest way to navigate this uncharted territory when shopping for LED light bulbs? The very recent availability of an LED replacement for the common household incandescent lamp has created a world of new potential, and along with it a whole new set of standards. In this post, we will be discussing the various ways to distinguish between the different LED options.

Watts vs. Lumens
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1. Light Output

Incandescent lamps have always been measured in watts, because for a really long time people equated the electricity it took to light a bulb with the luminosity it created. So “60 watts” came to mean “the brightness of a 60-watt incandescent lamp,” even though luminosity is measured in lumens, not watts.

With the introduction of more energy efficient lighting, however, this standard doesn’t work. It takes significantly less wattage to produce the same amount of light in an LED or fluorescent lamp, so it’s important for consumers to understand the luminosity of a bulb rather than simply its wattage.

Luminosity, or lamp brightness, is measured in lumens. The chart to the right demonstrates the amount of lumens a standard incandescent light bulb produces, so if you’re used to watts you can easily figure out what lumen count you want in your new LED bulb.

An LED lamp’s packaging or product description might mention how comparable its lumens are to the light output of a 60-, 75- or 100-watt incandescent bulb, but it’s wise to know ahead of time what luminosity you want just in case the incandescent watt-equivalent is not included.

Takeaway: Lumens are how the brightness of an LED light bulb is measured. You’ll choose your bulb based on how bright you want the light to shine, not by how much energy it will be using.


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4 Ways Lighting Can Save the Day on Your Big Day

Love is in the air! Fall officially began last week, so we are in the throes of the autumn wedding season. Although the summer months have traditionally been the most popular for weddings, autumn weddings have steadily risen in popularity and nowadays, you’re just as likely to receive an orange maple leaf save-the-date as you are a frilly invite with a flower border.

But as we all (should have) learned in elementary school, when the seasons change, the angle of sunlight touching the earth changes as well, resulting in a different quality and duration of sunlight. While many people prefer the more “golden” tones of autumn afternoons (especially photographers!), it can certainly be challenging to keep your special day well-lit when the sun begins to set. But never fear! Here is a list of four ways lighting can save the day on your big day.

Professional Lighting Design
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1. Good lighting design can transform an event.

If you can, hire a lighting designer for your wedding. Great lighting can be the difference between a spectacular party and a “well, they tried hard.” Acclaimed lighting designer Bentley Meeker said that with the right lighting, a $25,000 wedding can look like a $75,000 wedding. Lighting design can be pricey, but it’s plenty cost-effective.

Sometimes event planners and wedding florists provide their own lighting, so be sure to ask about that when booking your big day. If they don’t, look into a lighting design firm that specializes in weddings. You can see from this photo (from a reception designed by Extreme Productions) how glamorous professional wedding lighting can be. If you can afford to go all out, you won’t be sorry.

The reason lighting at a wedding is so important is it can really make or break a venue’s ambiance. Whether you want a romantic vibe, like in the picture, or more of a warm, casual family feel, lighting can make a huge difference on how successful you are in achieving the aura you desire. You will want to look into professional lighting design, especially if your wedding takes place outside. Many venues have pre-approved lighting designers familiar with their codes, so make sure to find out when venue-hunting.

But if hiring a lighting designer is outside your budget, don’t freak out! There are plenty of ways for you to have great lighting at your wedding without breaking the bank.


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