Thursday, September 20, 2012

Listen Up! Don't Compromise on Acoustics By John Bishop, AIA, LEED AP

Farnsworth Group added acoustic wall panels  that not only buffer noise,
but also creates a dynamic design element that enriches the space.
Today, school districts are under increased pressure to accomplish more with less forcing compromises in many areas.

The acoustic properties of classrooms is one area that we urge districts to take careful consideration before making any compromises. The acoustics of the classroom environment fall in two primary areas: background noise and sound isolation.

Background noise - the sound generated by occupants and devices within the space - serves both as a sound mask and, in the case of sudden or irregular sounds, a point of distraction within the classroom. Sound masking background noise can have a marked impact on speech intelligibility, which in turn can have a dramatic impact on younger students that are lacking the baseline knowledge and context necessary to fill in the gaps in intelligible speech.

Background noise can often be reduced by isolating mechanical equipment from the classroom. By avoiding installing fans, compressors, pumps and other such devices in the confines of the classroom space, all of which generate mechanical vibration and noise, the background noise level can be reduced and speech intelligibility can be improved.

Sound transmission refers to the amount of sound energy that is transferred through intervening walls, doors and ceilings. Mass is often a significant contributor to the performance of a building element in controlling sound – the heavier a wall, the less sound energy will be transmitted through the wall.