Norwegian school pioneers circadian lighting

A new school is Norway is pioneering ground-breaking circadian lighting in an attempt to improve pupils’ performance and well-being.

The new Kongsgardmoen School in Kongsberg opens this week to its intake of 230 primary school pupils. Lighting researchers and scientists will follow the results of the experiment closely to see if so-called ‘tuneable’ lighting can change schoolchildren’s behaviour and academic performance. It’s one of the first full circadian lighting systems in an educational establishment anywhere in the world.

The school has installed luminaires with adjustable colour temperature, with LED light sources that can be tuned from cool white to warm white light. All classrooms are equipped with the technology, making this the most comprehensive human-centric LED lighting installation to date.

When the children arrive in the morning, they are greeted by a cool white and intensive energy light for the first class. The cool white light regulates the production of stress and sleep hormones in the children’s (and the teacher’s) bodies. The light therefore shifts their daily rhythms forward, making them more active during the day and tired when the night falls. This also has a positive impact on the children’s sleep patterns.

Later in the day, the teacher may activate a focus light when it’s time for concentration tasks such as math tests or writing exercises. A shower of cool white and intensive light increases short term concentration and alertness. When the pupils gather in the front of the class room to listen to the teacher telling a story, a warm white light creates a nice and relaxing atmosphere. These adjustments are made by the teacher who are being trained to use the sophisticated system. The system also has a standard setting, which is a neutral white, good working light.



The luminaires used are modular LED luminaires with sources that shift the colour according to pre-defined or manual settings. The colour rendering of the light is very high (at over Ra90), much higher than the minimum requirements for school lighting in Norway. This makes colouring, reading and writing easier and more pleasant. Colour tuning is made easy for the teacher through a wall mounted user panel. The system was supplied by Glamox.


Comments 14

Hi! Are there any statistics results from the benefits/non-benefits of this experiment or others like it? And has the practice been tested on more schools or similiar arenas?

Changing light colors to influence behavior in children? This is unacceptable on moral and ethical grounds. In addition I have seen no scientific basis for the claims. In my experience changing lighting in hundreds of classrooms there have been many negative impacts from light temperatures over 3500 K . These impacts have included increased migraines, eye strain and reported extra stress in students, especially special needs students and increased negative behaviors. In contrast the 3500 K lamps had no negative impacts. I suspect that this is related to our outside gray sky matching the light temperatures. Therefore these findings might not be shared in parts of the world with different conditions. Until there is scientific proof that this color shifting cause no harm I will recommend that occupants do as they would when outdoors in the middle of the day - and put on SUNGLASSES.

I think Jim Benya had some good things to say. Yet we must remember that we are experimental now and always have been, just not scientifically. And it would be hard to argue that selecting lighting the way it's often done is superior. At least the interior designers are not expected to have scientific rigor. So there is a question of knowledge and a question of risk, and it accompanies both sides of the argument as we've used lighting based on preference, color rendering, facial color, daylighting compatibility, etc. for a long time.

What an unlikely response from Deiter and Lars. Firstly Deiter, I did not say do nothing. I said, we should not use children in schools as Guinea pigs. Scientists should prove their scientific theories and offer appropriate advice and mandates through the normal channels, when they have done so. The idea that the dark extremes in Norway, stand as a justification for this approach in the classroom is ridiculous. The earth has been on this path for thousands of years of habitation and as far as I know there is no rule to say that anyone should stay in Norway if they find the sunlight restrictions intolerable. All of the Norwegian guys I have met,in my extensive work in Scandinavia, have been very successful professionals working in one of the most difficult, high cost economies in the world. Getting a job, which pays enough to live in that economy must be harrowing, and personal status and self worth in failing to do so, are much more likely to be significant influences on suicide, as they are here in the UK. If light is the answer, how would you know if you have provided too much to someone in a community where they have lived with the daylight restrictions for centuries? What harm might you be doing? So I will reiterate. Without appropriate scientific base, should profit incentivised companies be using children in schools as Guinea pigs? Lastly, because I see that there is room for confusion, I am actually very impressed with LED development and have worked with the product for many years. I am not anti-LED. I am not against its use. However, It should only be used responsibly and its exponents should aim to protect the HumanCentric system. Most of all, it should not be employed, in long exposure areas, if there is a risk of creating another problem altogether.

Thank you for your comments, Dieter and James. I am responsible for Human Centric Lighting solutions in Glamox, the supplier of the lighting solution for this project. We carefully follow and contribute to the research and discussion on advantages and risks connected with tuneable white lighting systems. The Kongsgårdsmoen project is based on research and practical experience from another Norwegian school project startet 1,5 years earlier (research manuscript under development). Researchers and the school's healthcare services are also invited to follow the Kongsgårdsmoen project as well. I am happy to explain the Kongsgårdsmoen lighting settings in detail and continue the debate at one of the LinkedIN groups apt for such purposes, for example this one:

When talking about the positive potential of human centric lighting some people always claim to stop and wait and "do no harm". As if a light installation that has the potential to give back some of the missing daylight to humans could do harm. As long as the school day is during daytime, a daylight-like lighting may not be able to do harm. It's time to admit, that in many cases our existing standard lighting situations are doing harm or at least not compensating or counteracting against a harmful status of missing daylight. In Norway and other North-European countries the suicide rates are significantly higher than in mid- or southern Europe. Many studies have proven this. Lack of daylight is suspected to have a significant contribution. This lack of daylight already starts with little children in school. So this new installation is a right first step towards the right direction. Human Centric Lighting which provides right light at the right time has the chance to compensate this lack. Instead of claiming "do no harm" as excuse just to do nothing, I would prefer that lighting designers and responsible bodies for education or health and safety on work places would start going the first steps into these applications that are not attributed to potential harmful effects because these are daytime applications, that will not disturb sleep or disrupt circadian rhythm. Of course an alternative could be to start school later in the morning, when the daylight levels are higher. But it looks as if we are ready to accept that this unnatural shift of activity time versus the natural circadian rhythm is done without any compensation for the missing daylight. A so called "social jetlag" is the consequence. This does harm - as proven in many studies. I agree that there are potential application fields that have further to be explored before going to new standards or large scale applications. E.g. for illumination for work places in rotating night shifts there is insufficient knowledge. This does not mean to do nothing. Rotating night shifts are doing a lot of harm. It's urgent time to counteract. Light has the potential to support. But first steps have to be made even before each and every open question can be answered. Otherwise we continue to live in lighting environments that are already proven to be bad for human health. Light is not a drug, light is more like nutrition. We need good and high quality food and light for healthful living. You could do harm by eating wrong or too much. But you can do much more harm by continuously eating too little.

In "CIE Statement on Non-Visual Effects of Light; RECOMMENDING PROPER LIGHT AT THE PROPER TIME", the Commission Internationale de l´Eclairage (CIE) states: "The Manchester workshop (June 2015) concluded that non-visual responses are subject to complex signal processing in the central nervous system and influenced by as-yet-unresolved interactions of photoreceptive units. The missing understanding of the input-output characteristics between light stimulus and the resulting non-visual response seems to make tailored light application for a desired lighting effect impossible." This statement resulted from meetings of the CIE's expert technical committees and a joint technical committee, comprised of the world's experts and researchers in the fields of photobiology, circadian systems, and related sciences. Some of the attending scientists have successfully used light regimens for specific situations, such as the International Space Station. But to make it clear, they all agree that for a general population and without close medical supervision, we simply are not ready yet to prescribe lighting for human circadian benefit. Lacking protocols for how much light, for how long, of what spectrum, prior light history, temperature, and other factors, installing lighting systems for any human benefit related to the human circadian system is an experiment right now. I think lighting manufacturers and professionals throughout the world are excited about the possibilities, especially in parts of the world like Norway where winter days are short and daylight alone cannot be used to help maintain human wellness. However, in medicine, there is a saying "primum non nocere" - first do no harm. This is the reason for extensive medical testing of drugs before releasing them for use. We have not done this testing in lighting yet. Mr. Bastable's comment about guinea pigs is apropos. In the meantime, there is no dispute that natural light - daylight - works fine and there is no dispute about its safety, other than things we already know and live with like sunburn and ocular damage from looking directly at the sun.

I recently attended a Masterclass on this very subject, presented by the SLL in May 2015. The guest speaker was Head of the UK Health team responsible for guidance on any safety issues in the lighting of the human environment. He declared that there were no guidance levels for the basic requirement of lighting stimulus for healthy centric and circadian systems and that he agreed that schools were, perhaps, not the best places to experiment with this light source until more is known. In the case of LED lighting technology, all definitive guidance for correct use seems to be carefully avoided by the authorities. For example, I have seen no comment, on his statement in this matter, from SLL or CIBSE, since their event. Of course we want to know if there are benefits to be had, but children should not be our guinea pigs. Please could we have the science first.

We have been researching this topic and utilising the colour changing in our workshops to help staff with their productivity. Good results all round and will be looking at adding colour changing fittings to our range.

Our Group of companies offer CCT tunable solutions since some time. We believe that Light is the most important contributor to human well being. Both Downlights and panels are available also DALI control. website ledpagina.ino

Hello to all, yes, this is an excellent example of the application in real world of an established method of lighting control, and adoption of the new understanding we have of the biological effects of lighting. The techniques used and control philosophies are understood and no more complex than a dali installation to design and install. In my design practice I specialize in the field of circadian rhythm, and have a research project in this field underway at QUT in Queensland, Australia.

This is very interesting. Is this available in Australia? What controls are required? Can you please send me a schematic. What are the percentage additional costs over standard LED lighting?

I mean 'who' not 'when'!

When are the designers, "lighting researchers and scientists" for this project?

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