Education is a key area of concern when it comes to implementing acoustics that provide an environment to learn and teach in.
Designing the ideal specification for acoustics in schools needs to be considered at planning stage.
Taking guidance from Building Bulletin 93 (BB93), Approved Document E, Acoustics of schools: a Design Guide (plus others) is key.
Poor acoustics can take many forms. Issues can arise from many sources including rainfall hitting a roof, inaudible conversations due to high reverberation levels and even passing vehicles.

From a nursery school to a university,  poor acoustics within the education sector can affect both students and teachers in the following negative ways:
– Speech intelligibility
– Reduced levels of concentration
– A detrimental effect on health and well being
– Less effective teaching/learning environment

Not all forms of education have a need to meet the standards expected of BB93.
However, in our experience, meeting BB93 and other guidance requirements is a must for any place of learning. In not doing so, we risk the standard of education dropping to levels that students and other organisations find unacceptable.

Acoustics in Education

Typical Guidance for acoustics in Education

BB93 explains the minimum performance standards for acoustics of a school building (a copy can be downloaded here from the government website). The guidance helps define the type of establishment that needs to comply with these regulations.
The document refers to all aspects of acoustics from the building envelope to the performance of an individual space.  It does not, however, supersede or replace other building standards that may also be relevant.

Building Bulletin 93 (BB93)

Approved Document E (AD-E) is part of the Building Regulations that covers acoustics (Resistance to Sound). Schools are specifically referred to in section E4 of Approved Document E. As with BB93, AD-E covers aspects such as sound insulation and reverberation requirements. A copy of Approved Document E can be downloaded from the government website here.

Acoustics of Schools: a design guide contains additional information on acoustics in schools. A copy of this can be found on the Institute of Acoustics (IOA) website, under publications.

Building Bulletin 93 (BB93)

Achieving excellent acoustics in Education

Planning – From the earliest stage of planning, we can help with environmental and noise impact assessments to ensure the future development suitability.

Design – Ensure that the data gathered from noise surveys conducted is reflected in the final design. Implementing and ensuring the guidance documents are correctly observed and the building requirements meet these. Work alongside other professionals to ensure that the acoustic requirement fits in with other build and design requirements.

Specification – provide assistance and support in specifying the right material or product for use in the build.

Simple process for a successful project

1. Ensure that the proposed site is suitable through undertaking an Environmental Noise Assessment.

2. Assess and advise on the building façade including doors and windows to ensure they meet requirements

3. Provide advice on internal partitions (floors and walls), doors and glazing to ensure a correct level of sound reduction is achieved

4. Assess internal rooms and spaces for reverberation and provide options for suitable solutions.

5. Provide final testing required for sound insulation and reverberation as well as assistance in ensuring compliance for BREEAM HEA 05 accreditation.