School design presents a variety of challenges for creating a highly functional environment for learning. Arguably, the acoustic design of classrooms, lecture halls, music spaces, media centers, and the like, is one of the highest priorities for successful school design.
The importance of quality room acoustics in schools has been recognized by Educators and School Architects as evidenced by the new standard, ANSI S12.60, "Standard for Classroom Acoustics." This standard was recently created to provide acoustical criteria for those involved in school building design. Many of the standard’s requirements have been adopted by School Districts as part of newly created building codes and regulations. In addition, the popular LEED for Schools program created by the US Green Building Council, allows buildings to earn credits for good acoustic design.
To summarize, this standard addresses two key components of architectural acoustics that have great impact on the ability of an individual to clearly understand speech. One is the level of background noise in the room. The STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings of walls, floor/ceilings, doors and windows will determine how much extraneous noise enters the room. Designing to reduce noise generated by the HVAC system is also critical for creating a quiet space. The more quiet the space, the better the students hear and understand. The second key component is the reverberation level in the classroom. All hard room surfaces reflect sound such as; hard flooring, drywall, painted concrete block, and windows, increasing sound reverberation levels. Too much reverberation reduces speech clarity. Again, the goal is to make speech highly intelligible for all students. Designing room interiors to include acoustically absorptive finish materials reduces reverberation and improves acoustics.
Please contact your local Kinetics sales representative who will assist you with their knowledge of acoustical building materials: product features, limitations, and costs. Kinetics Reps will also work with their customers/contractors to help insure a quality installation. Kinetics recommends the use of an acoustical consultant for design assistance in the many acoustically critical areas within a well designed school. Contact us if you need a referral for a consultant in your area.