February 01, 2016 09:30
It’s imperative that school children have a suitable learning environment, where they can feel comfortable, concentrate without interruption and communicate freely.
Audio comfort is one of the primary conditions necessary for an effective learning environment. If there are background noises or a high decibel rating inside a classroom, students could struggle to hear adequately, or may find discomfort from straining to hear. It’s also easier to become distracted.
Acoustic design is an important aspect of the government’s regulations for school buildings: “Each room or other space in a school building shall be designed and constructed in such a way that it has the acoustic conditions and the insulation against disturbance by noise appropriate to its intended use.”
These requirements within the Building Regulations apply specifically to teaching and learning spaces. However, consideration may also be applied to adjoining areas that may impact on learning environments like corridors or meeting areas.
The maximum requirement for indoor background noise levels in a classroom, teaching area or small group room is 35dBA for a new build and 40dBA for a refurbishment.
Other non-teaching spaces like administration or meeting rooms do not require such strict acoustic performances. A teaching area is maximum 40dBA for new build and 45dBA for refurbishment.
40dBA is just above the sound of whispering - about the sound level you’d expect in a library.
So if a classroom is impacted by noise pollution – from traffic, the playground, or sounds in nearby spaces—it may be time to consider implementing acoustic insulation constructions.
The acoustic rating of a room depends on the materials used in the build. Sound commonly travels through openings around windows and doors. This can be minimised in a number of ways including the use of acoustic seals around the perimeter of doors or windows.
For more information on the regulations for sound in school environments, refer to Building bulletin 93, Acoustic design of schools: performance standards.
Contact Norseal to improve the acoustic rating in classrooms or other sound-sensitive spaces.