The newly constructed Paducah Middle School building in Paducah, Ky., utilizes revolutionary products and design techniques to achieve a green environment for the upcoming 610 students expected to attend in the fall. A unique light-diffusing window is showcased in the new building. The all-glass, highly insulating window uses revolutionary technology called aerogel to create a soft glow and eliminate sunlight glare while also curbing energy costs. This technology developed by U.S. Daylighting, called AeroGlass, will be effective in controlling heating and cooling costs for the Paducah Public School System.

RBS Design Group, an architectural firm in Owensboro, Kentucky, assisted in crafting the school system’s vision into a green reality. As one of the principal architects on the project, Craig Thomas was focused on two issues: student performance and building efficiency. “Daylighting is important in regards to increasing average daily attendance and test scores for students. The aerogel filled windows provide a higher R-value, making our buildings more efficient.” Thomas continued, “We also utilized insulated concrete forms specifically for strength, lack of sound transmission and high thermal value.”

Research conducted by the Heschong-Mahone Group attributes a seven to eight percent increase in students’ scores in classrooms which contain the most daylighting The acoustic environment is also important for learning. Noisy disruptions that compromise students’ focus on the lessons have measurable negative effects on learning.

When Wayne Walden, community relations specialist for Paducah Public School System, shows students around the new building, he is often bombarded with comments about how much brighter the rooms and hallways appear. “While our administrators appreciate the design and energy efficiency of the windows, the students simply appreciate the emotional lift that sunlight…offer[s],” said Walden. With AeroGlass allowing natural light to fill the room, students experience a more serene setting in which to learn.

James French, the owner of U.S. Daylighting, firmly stands behind his product as an education enhancer as well as an energy-saver. French explains his position: “I am proud of our recent projects and the more than 24,000 square feet of daylighting windows that are benefitting the students and staff at schools across the nation in which AeroGlass is installed. This product has a positive effect on schools’ energy bills; but more importantly, creates a naturally-lit learning environment that affects behaviors, moods and hopefully grades.”