Navigating BB93 to create exceptional acoustics in schools

14 Nov 2023

The introduction of the BB93 acoustic design of schools in 2003 has not only led to an expected standard of noise control in school environments, but has also meant an increased understanding of the importance of effective acoustic treatments in educational facilities. 

Educational projects now almost always factor in acoustic treatment at design stage. 

At Soundtect, we not only work with you to ensure the acoustic design of your school is compliant with Building Bulletin 93, we transform compliance into innovative design that elevates your space. 

How does noise affect learning?

The effect of noise on academic performance and wellbeing for both students and teachers is well-documented. 

It has been known for many years that poor acoustic conditions in classrooms leads to poor speech intelligibility. Not to mention the voice fatigue experienced by teachers.

The typical noise level in a classroom is 65 dB .To put this into context, that's the same decibel level as a telephone ringing 10 metres away, and only 30 dB less than a lawnmower! 

Background noise in schools, even at low levels, has been found to increase stress levels and undermine short-term memory, reading comprehension and willingness to engage with others.

When one person needs to raise their voice above normal speaking level in order to be heard, the effect is that everyone then needs to raise their voice in order to be heard. These sound levels reverberating around a large space can be incredibly disruptive to a learning environment. 

The good news is that well-planned acoustic solutions for schools can actually have the reverse effect. With competing noises addressed, voice clarity is much improved, meaning people naturally lower their voices. 

Understanding BB93 Acoustic Design of Schools

Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) is a government design guide that lays down the standards for the acoustic performance of schools in the United Kingdom. 

BB93 outlines the minimum performance standards for the acoustics of school buildings, encompassing a range of factors from sound insulation and good acoustics to the unique requirements of special educational needs. 

BB93 first came into play in 2003, with an update in 2015. All new school buildings and redesigns must comply with BB93 acoustic standards. 

The key features of BB93

  1. Reverberation Time and Acoustic Performance: One of the fundamental aspects of BB93 is the regulation of reverberation time. This ensures that the acoustic environment is optimized for effective teaching, addressing issues related to poor acoustics and excessive noise that might have a detrimental effect on speech intelligibility.
  2. Performance Targets and Minimum Standards: BB93 sets clear performance targets and minimum standards for ambient noise levels, sound insulation, and external noise levels in educational buildings. This ensures that new school buildings provide an environment conducive to effective learning.
  3. Room Usage and Internal Noise Control: Recognising the importance of different room usages, BB93 addresses internal noise control, emphasizing the significance of tailored acoustic design in areas such as classrooms, entrance halls, and other parts of a school.
  4. Special Educational Needs (SEN): BB93 recognizes the diverse needs of students, particularly those with special educational needs. The Building Bulletin underlines the importance of clear communication of speech, considering younger children and tailoring acoustic solutions to create inclusive learning environments.

How do we reduce noise in schools?

Let’s face it, school rooms, sports halls, libraries etc. rarely have soft furnishings. With the increase in popularity of hard, easier to keep clean flooring comes an increase in the issues with noise and poor acoustics. 

So, how do we treat the acoustics of schools?

Add acoustic treatments

Adding acoustic treatments can offer immediate relief from reverberant sound. Both walls and ceilings can be fully utilised to grab those sound waves and turn the rooms back into useable areas quietly and confidently. Even existing buildings can add this all-important addition as a retrofit.

Acoustic ceiling baffles and rafts

Class ceiling baffles and rafts by Soundtect are a perfect solution, especially in this glass-walled era. With an NRC of 0.95, our ceiling acoustic panels catch the sound waves that hit them, diffusing them or trapping them inside the products. 

Soundtect Class ceiling and acoustic wall panels have been widely specified in schools due to their incredible absorption and lightweight properties. What's more, our Class acoustic panels have an incredible 70% recycled PET and low VOC content.

Zone areas with acoustic partitions

Alternatively, Soundtect Freestyle acoustic sheets can be used imaginatively to create stunning ceiling and wall features while injecting some branding or fun into the spaces. Or even used as classroom equipment - ever thought about an acoustically-optimised pinboard?

Acoustic hanging screens can be utilised for partitioning off quiet areas in large open plan spaces, or simply added to quiet booths and consultation rooms to create a calming atmosphere.

Our Freestyle acoustic panels are highly adaptable for use bespoke designs that spark imagination and creativity.

Choose high performance acoustic panels

Our premium Soundtect Class A 3D range has widely been specified in lecture halls and auditoriums; their high level of acoustic performance adding a wow factor in key areas to set the building apart and keep it memorable, long after the noise has gone.

From nursery schools right through to higher education, libraries to lecture theatres, sports halls to student accommodation, all these rooms and areas will benefit highly from keeping the noise levels low and contained. 

With a wide array of finishes, colours and applications, bespoke options, and high performance acoustic control, Soundtect can help you create the optimum acoustic design for your next educational project.

Seeking BB93 compliance for your school projects? Get in touch to transform compliance into innovation.

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