School and College Buildings

Acoustics are an important element to consider when designing a school or educational space.  All school buildings are subject to detailed design checks and on-site inspections by building control bodies.  Requirement E4 of the Building Regulations on School Acoustics states:

“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.”

Research shows that better learning takes place in a good acoustic environment. Tasks that involve language, such as reading, and word problems in mathematics, and those that have high cognitive processing demands involving attention, problem-solving and memory, are vulnerable to exposure to noise.  Poor classroom acoustics, still all too common in the UK, can create a negative learning environment, especially for students with hearing impairments, learning difficulties, or where English is the second language.

Classrooms with low noise levels, free from excessive reverberation and noise from adjacent spaces, mean teachers don’t have to strain to be heard and pupils can focus on their work without unwelcome distractions, creating a positive working and learning environment and allowing the best possible outcomes.

The Department for Education’s acoustic performance standards for schools are given in Building Bulletin 93 (BB93), the latest version of which was published December 2014. This supersedes the 2003 BB93 edition and the document ‘Acoustic Performance Standards for the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP)’, 2013.

Our Service

At Miller Goodall, we have extensive experience in assisting design teams to ensure that appropriate acoustic conditions are achieved in schools, colleges and other educational facilities.  This may involve the following steps:

  • Ambient noise surveys to determine external noise conditions;
  • Design of the building envelope, including glazing, roofs and other elements, to achieve appropriate internal noise levels within the building;
  • Advising on ventilation and building services, to enable acceptable background noise levels in teaching and learning areas to be achieved;
  • Design of sound insulation measures between teaching spaces;
  • Control of reverberation within teaching spaces;
  • Optimisation of speech intelligibility in open-plan teaching and learning spaces;
  • Acoustic compliance testing.

We also have experience in problem-solving noisy areas within schools. We are often approached about solving acoustic issues in existing buildings and can provide advice regarding the best way to improve the situation.  Typical problems include:

  • Sound transmission between classrooms;
  • Excessive reverberation;
  • Poor speech intelligibility;
  • Building service noise (e.g. ventilation noise);
  • Rain noise and external ‘break-in’ sounds;
  • Impact on surrounding areas (‘break-out’).

Our Experience

Our team has worked on a number of new-build and refurbishment projects within schools and colleges, completing acoustic assessments, design and testing. The case studies below show some of our more recent projects.

Our Accreditations

All our acoustic consultants are members of the Institute of Acoustics and are accredited by the Association of Noise Consultants to carry out pre-completion sound testing to BS EN ISO 140-4:1998 & 140-7:1998, as required by Part E of the Building Regulations and BREEAM. When you choose Miller Goodall, you can be confident that we use the latest techniques and standards, and that testing will be carried out quickly and competently, using fully calibrated equipment.

Correcting acoustic problems at the end of a project may require significant remedial works and can be costly. Commissioning us at the beginning of your project could save you time and money, and is now a prerequisite under the latest version of BREEAM. For more information on how we can help your project, contact us for friendly advice and a competitive quote.


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