Education: Acoustic Standards in Educational Facilities
The Importance of Acoustics
Few spaces demonstrate the importance of
acoustics better than an educational facility. Such an environment must facilitate
a wide variety of activities, the most crucial of which is learning. Unfortunately,
the acoustics in many educational facilities are less than acceptable. In some
cases, the acoustic conditions detract from the educational experience and hinder
the learning process.
A New Standard
Recognizing the trend
of sub-par acoustics, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recently
introduced a standard for the acoustical design of schools, S12.60-2002, "Acoustical
Performance Criteria, Design Requirements and Guidelines for Schools."
The new standard is in effect and includes several requirements focusing on noise
isolation in educational facilities. The standard is broken down into sections
outlining guidelines for background noise levels, Reverberation Time, Sound Transmission
Class, and Impact Isolation Class. The standard is followed by annexes that give
more information on how to achieve the specified standards.
Many recent studies demonstrate that acoustics is a significant
inhibitor to productivity and that the presence of noise is directly related to
lower test scores. With the approval of this new standard, designers gain an increased
awareness of the importance of acoustics in educational facilities and are given
specific guidelines to help ensure the success of the facility. It is the responsibility
of the design professional to take acoustic factors into consideration in order
to ensure this success.
acoustic principles and mathematical calculations are necessary in order to confirm
compliance with this standard. Although an architect or designer is expected to
understand the importance of acoustics, they are not expected to be an acoustical
expert. Part of the designer's responsibility may include seeking the advice of
a competent acoustical consultant in the early stages
of design. Acoustical consultants can verify whether or not a proposed design
will comply with this standard and make further recommendations on how to comply.
Given the demand for healthy, functional spaces, acoustics must be considered
in design. Design professionals are challenged to broaden their scope of responsibility
and meet the requirements set forth in ANSI S12.60-2002 when planning an educational
Click here for a summary of
the requirements set forth in the new standard. We have included additional information
in italics following each section's summary.
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related articles on Acoustics.com, please click here.