A recent study by a West Coast utility company suggests that students with the most daylighting in their classrooms progressed faster in reading and math in one year than students with less daylighting. According to test scores from one California school, students progressed 26 percent faster in reading and 20 percent faster in math. Similar studies that had comparable results were conducted in schools in Fort Collins, Colo., and Seattle.
Clark County (Nev.) School District, the nation's eighth-largest district in conjunction with Welles-Pugsley Architects (WPA), designed 10 middle-school prototypes. All of the buildings use solid glass blocks for window areas and non-load-bearing exterior walls to increase the amount of daylight coming into a classroom without compromising security.
The glass block that was used in the district's middle schools, Pittsburgh Corning Corporation's VISTABRIK solid glass block, transmits 80 percent of available light. The blocks are difficult to break and are more resistant to breakage than conventional glass.
In the district, the blocks were placed randomly and in random patterns, as opposed to having one large window. In a typical classroom, a random pattern was interspersed with a three-foot by six-foot glass-block window.
Using glass block saves money for the school district in two ways; initially, in the construction, and second, on maintenance.