As the world shifts towards more environmentally conscious practices, and with an increasing focus on making spaces accessible to all, understanding and implementing strategies like light reflectance value (LRV) testing is of great importance. 

Let’s take a look at what LRV testing entails and how the results can significantly impact eco-friendliness and accessibility.

What is Light Reflectance Value and How Is It tested?

LRV is a measure of a material’s ability to reflect light. It is represented as a percentage, ranging from 0% to 100%. 

An LRV of 0% represents materials that fully absorb light, or pure black surfaces. An LRV of 100% represents materials that fully reflect light, or pure white surfaces.

The LRV of a material is typically measured using a spectrophotometer or tristimulus colorimeter.

Light Reflectance Value and Accessibility

The lighting reflectance values of building materials is an important aspect when considering the accessibility of a space. LRV testing can contribute to enhancing visual comfort, particularly for individuals with visual impairments — by ensuring adequate contrast between surfaces for easier navigation

Since dissimilar colors may have similar LRV values, it is important that a certain level of contrast between materials is considered during the building design process. 

Here are some examples where visual contrast is important for accessibility:

  • Door faces and/or frames to walls
  • Floors to walls and vice versa
  • Handrails to walls
  • Sanitary fittings to walls
  • Stair treads from front edge corners 

Light Reflectance Value and Energy Efficiency

Lighter colors reflect more light, which can lead to a reduced reliance on artificial lighting and consequently, lower energy consumption. 

With this information, LRV testing can help organizations make informed decisions about the sustainability of their building materials and surfaces while also considering accessibility advantages.  

A brightly lit, empty room with large windows and reflective white flooring.

Asian businessman hands up in front of the window, enjoying the morning sunlight.

Compliance With Green Building Standards

Surface reflectance plays a crucial role in building design, with significant impact on:

  • Daylighting
  • Energy efficiency
  • Visual comfort

High LRV materials not only contribute to improving these factors but also enable projects to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) indoor environmental quality (IEQ) credits. 

These specific IEQ credits are available when at least 90% of the regularly occupied spaces in the building contain furniture and interior finishes that have LRVs meeting the following criteria: 

  • Ceilings — Greater than or equal to 80%
  • Walls — Greater than or equal to 55%
  • Furniture work surfaces — Greater than or equal to 45% 
  • Furniture movable partitions — Greater than or equal to 50%

Pro tip: Solar reflectance index (SRI) testing on building materials is an additional test for a product’s contribution to a building’s environmental performance. 

Purpose and Benefits of Light Reflectance Value Testing

LRV testing is a way for developers and builders to create environmentally friendly buildings while promoting accessibility by expanding energy efficiency, fostering material innovations,  and promoting sustainable development. 

At IPA Labs, we offer testing with state-of-the-art equipment for both LRV and SRI testing, along with expertise in materials, life sciences and sustainability testing services. Partner with us to enhance the eco-friendliness and accessibility of your projects.  

To learn more about the advantages of testing your product, reach out to us at testing@ipalaboratories.com or connect with me directly!