A new white paper issue by Armstrong Commercial Flooring, “Daylighting and Flooring: Don’t Over look the Issue of Reflectivity,” provides insight on leveraging the reflectivity of flooring for architects and administrators who are seeking opportunities to reduce energy consumption in commercial structures.

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.

Research suggests that boosting the reflectance values of flooring will allow more light—from either artificial or natural sources—to bounce off the floor and enable the available light to illuminate the space more efficiently.

“It is an issue that most facility managers are just beginning to think about,” said Amy Costello, sustainability manager for Armstrong. “They realize that the flooring can have an effect on daylighting. It’s not the primary factor in daylighting, but it’s something to consider.”

Daylighting advocates have recognized the importance of the reflectivity of the interior surfaces of classrooms but tend to focus more on ceilings and walls because those surfaces provide more daylighting benefits. One of the studies cited, “Energy Saving Potential of High Reflective Flooring Material for Sustainable Interiors,” indicates that high-reflectance floor material can increase classroom daylighting levels, and where daylighting is not a factor, can result in more efficient distribution of artificial light. Either outcome would enable education institutions to reduce energy costs. 

This study found when floor reflectance is changed from 10% to 60%, the luminance levels in a corridor could increase as high as 30% while the magnitude in an empty classroom space could be as high as 45%. 

“When one considers the billions of square feet of space that schools and universities occupy in the U.S., even a slight reduction in electricity consumption can make a difference in an education institution’s bottom line. High-reflectance flooring offers such an opportunity,” said Costello. 

Download a complimentary copy of the white paper at armstrong.com/daylighting. Written by Mike Kennedy of American School & University magazine, the paper is based upon the latest available research on daylighting in schools and recently completed (October 2014) research conducted by Richard Mistrick, associate professor of architectural engineering at Penn State University.