Acoustics matter in schools

This month we look at acoustic issues in a number of different applications and explaining how selecting the right insulation can help specifiers and contractors meet building regulations

As we are becoming more sensitive about the intrusion of noise in our everyday lives, we will be looking at the different scenarios where proper soundproofing can make a real difference. In part one of this four part series, we focus on acoustic in schools.

Stock Photography - Education - Schools

Silence in class

Teaching and learning are acoustically very demanding activities where it’s imperative that ambient noise is kept as low as possible to minimise intrusion and distraction. 

It’s no surprise that studies consistently show that quieter classrooms achieve better results. As well as impairing students’ reading, comprehension and verbal interaction, excessive noise will also compromise behaviour, attention spans and stress levels.

Unfortunately, a large number of schools in the UK suffer from poor acoustics.

The most serious issues are caused by flanking transfer, where the noise is transmitted indirectly via paths such as external wall cavities, voids above partitions and internal corridors, or where there are problems of excessive reverberation within the rooms themselves.

In these projects, it’s important to focus on the key areas: dampening sound reverberation; preventing noise affecting other classrooms; reducing the noise from outside, including wind, rain, hail, traffic, etc; and minimising noise pollution from heating, cooling and ventilation systems, and other equipment within the space.


What are the building requirements?

Building Regulations Requirement E4 states that, “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 normal use.” The revised School Premises Regulations, which came into force on the 31 October 2012, require that, “the acoustic conditions and sound insulation of each room or other space must be suitable, having regard to the nature of the activities which normally take place therein.”


Products in Practice

Stopsley High School is a mixed Comprehensive and Community College that is located in the northern suburb of Luton. In 2013, the school received funding from the Government, via the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), which aims to address the needs of schools most in need of urgent repair.  For Stopsley High School, this meant a combination of some buildings being demolished and rebuilt while others receive upgrades. To support the increase of pupil capacity from 990 to 1350, a new school building was built to provide 64 classrooms, a four court sports hall, creative and music spaces and a special needs facility.

With the aim to complete construction in August 2016, main contractor, Interserve worked with sub-contractor, Briggs Amasco and Acoustic consultant, Arup to deliver a modern, purpose-built and well-insulated school building. The brief was to provide pupils with a thermally efficient and acoustically sound environment that is conducive to learning.


A refurbished high school

Stopsley High School had to be built to the highest thermal and acoustic performance specifications. The roofing solution for the new school building needed to overcome a number of performance challenges. The team at Briggs Amasco was tasked to achieve a thermal performance of 0.15 W/m2K in the school building. It was also required to meet the stringent acoustic performance requirements of BB93, in order to achieve a target noise reduction of Rw44Db. Alongside this, a roofing solution that could control the noise generated in high traffic areas of the school, such as the sports hall and music rooms was desired.

Approximately 600m2 of the 150mm HARDROCK® Multi-Fix (DD) Underlay and 600m2 of the 105mm HARDROCK® Multi-Fix (DD) were installed on the flat roof of the newly built school building which includes 64 classrooms, a four court sports hall, creative and music spaces and a special needs facility. Offering maximum density and exceptional dimensional stability, HARDROCK® Multi-Fix (DD) boards were adhesively applied on the roof of the building. The HARDROCK® Multi-Fix (DD) Underlay was placed across the roof, followed by the HARDROCK® Multi-Fix (DD) roof boards providing a non-combustible surface that was ideal for the application of the torch applied bitumen waterproofing system.

I have used ROCKWOOL products on several projects previously, so I was confident that the ROCKWOOL HARDROCK® Multi-Fix (DD) roof boards would deliver outstanding results. The ROCKWOOL products act as an excellent sound deadening layer, which helped in controlling the high level of noise coming from the sports and the music halls of the school. The products also deliver optimum levels of thermal and acoustic performance, which helped us achieve the set requirements.

Tony Sutton

Briggs Amasco
Contracts Manager
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