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July 14, 2008 -
Good classroom design should include good acoustic design. A classroom with bad acoustics will hinder the learning environment, making speech difficult to hear or hard to understand, a big problem for small children.
Three main acoustic issues should be addressed in classrooms. The first is controlling reverberation — a factor that can make speech unintelligible. This can usually be reduced by using sound-absorbent finishes in ceilings and walls.
The second issue is isolating the classroom from outside noise, such as street traffic, other children in the hallways or sound from neighboring classrooms. This can be achieved through construction methods and materials and is measured by sound transmission class.
The third concern is HVAC sound control. While effectively white noise, HVAC sound will still make speech unintelligible to students seated farthest from the teacher. The maximum sound coming from HVAC equipment should be between 35 and 40 dBA.
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