While lighting is important in any setting, there are a few locations where it carries more weight. For instance, courtroom lighting is about more than just finding a fixture and bulb to provide illumination. Let’s take a closer look at courtroom lighting with these useful tips.
1. Focus on the litigation area
When it comes to lighting this space, the most illumination needs to be focused where the most important tasks are performed. The center of the courtroom is considered the litigation area and can be thought of as a circle in the center of the room to help with placement of fixtures. This central circle or litigation area should include the bench of the presiding judge, the stand, and the seating area for both legal teams. The best way to light this area is to use general overhead lighting and combine it with task lighting for more versatility which can be adjusted as needed. It is important to remember that a good guideline for this type of location is to aim for around 70 foot-candles for the litigation center and a minimum of 30 foot-candles for the exterior area of the room.
2. Pay attention to the psychological effects of lighting
This is one of the areas where courtroom lighting differs greatly from other locations. When lighting this area, you need to have a basic understanding of how humans interact with illumination. For example, lights need to be bright enough to encourage focus, but not so bright that it causes mental exhaustion or stress for participants of the trial. If you follow the guideline of foot-candles previously mentioned, you can achieve this balance. Another way lighting affects human psychology can be found in the color temperature. The color temperature is how warm (yellow) or cool (white) the illumination appears to the human eye. The general rule on this matter is that warmer tones tend to create a more relaxing environment with cool temperatures creating a more alert mental state. It is perfectly acceptable to mix these two temperatures within the same space. For instance, while you want the jury and other trial participants focused with cooler temperatures, you can still employ a warmer temperature over the gallery where the general public, as well the family members of the individuals involved in the legal proceedings, reside to create a less stressful area.
3. Use natural light
One of the best ways to create a natural environment conducive to effective proceedings is by incorporating as much natural light as possible. Natural light has proven health benefits, cuts down on electricity costs, and requires no upkeep. Of course, you will need to take into account the changing position of the sun throughout the day, account for glares, and install solutions to use artificial lighting as needed.
4. Mix and match fixture styles
While the typical troffer-style fixture is still a staple in courtrooms, there are other solutions to help mix things up a bit and still achieve a well-balanced lighting plan. While you still want to employ some recessed overhead light fixtures for general lighting purposes, especially in the litigation area, wall sconces over the gallery areas can serve to create a nice mix of uplight and downlight for a gentle illumination spread. Adding wall sconces to doorways can be a great way to highlight entrances and exits as well.