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1, April 2004 ISSN: 1109-9577
Evaluation of acoustical performance of enclosed-type schools
HANI S. OBEID Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Applied Science University P.O.Box 950674, Amman 11195 JORDAN Hobeid50@yahoo.com
Abstract- The paper presents the results of an acoustical study performed on an enclosed-type two-story school. The background noise levels were measured and the results evaluated by calculating Transmission Loss and Sound Noise Reduction. Special Software “SABIN” is used to calculate the reverberation time of internal spaces before and after treatment of ceilings to obtain the recommended reverberation time for clear and intelligible speech. Key Words: Reverberation time, Speech Interference Level, Noise Criteria, Transmission Loss
levels of noise from children, and it becomes difficult to hear speech. Excessive noise and reverberation interfere with speech intelligibility, resulting in reduced understanding and therefore reduced learning. In many classrooms in the United States, the speech intelligibility rating is 75 percent or less. That means that, in speech intelligibility tests, listeners with normal hearing can understand only 75 percent of the words read from a list. Imagine reading a textbook with every fourth word missing, and being expected to understand the material and be tested on it. Sounds ridiculous? Well, that is exactly the situation facing students every day in schools all across the United States . It is common believe that noise generates more noise-that is, the poorer the acoustics and the noisier the environment, the louder and noisier the students will become. Therefore, It is important to have realistic assessment of acoustical conditions prevail in schools in order to influence their existing provision or new building regulations. Good acoustics benefit both teachers and students and this is a major factor in improving hearing environment.
The architectural acoustics is vitally important to the functionality of speech. The sound is one of environmental conditions that staff and students notice most often. Since speech is a key element of effective teaching, poor acoustics can have a large effect on learning. In many classrooms, students cannot hear words clearly, and their concentration wanders. Many are straining to hear rather than directing their energy towards understanding the lesson. Nearly all schools have hard materials on walls, ceilings and floors; when sound reflects off these surfaces it leads to high reverberation times and creates disturbing echoes. Requirement E4 from part E of schedule 1 to The Building Regulations 2000 states that: “Each room or other space in a school shall be designed and constructed in such a way that they have the acoustic conditions and the insulation against disturbance by noise appropriate to its intended use” . Background noise also can be a problem. Sound from outside traffic, adjacent classrooms, corridors creates background noise that teachers have to raise their voices in order to be heard. Combine this with normal
Typical classroom . The values of reverberation time of each space over a frequency range 125 Hz to 4000 Hz for treated ceiling are shown in table 5. The most efficient method is to treat the ceiling with acoustic material. April 2004 ISSN: 1109-9577 2. A series of calculations were made by software “SABIN” for the same spaces in the school. The calculations were performed after treatment the ceiling with an acoustic material of high absorption. The reverberation time should not exceed 0. Secondly impulses (reflected sound) therefore contribute more to a perception of how large the source is and what sort of space it is in. measure and assist the acoustics features of such type of the school in order to define the problems and to propose suggestions and methods of solving or mitigating acoustic problems. People are most influenced by the initial portion of arriving sound energy. multipurpose rooms and administration are located at ground floor.4 seconds across the frequency range 125 Hz to 4000 Hz . The acoustic spray was used to treat a number of schools in United States of America. noise and lack of speech intelligibility are encountered during the day. Reverberation Time For many years reverberation time was the only real objective measure of the acoustic performance of many spaces.Library . The reverberation time of the following spaces were calculated by special software “SABIN” from Acoustics Engineering/ Netherlands . while computer room. In order to comply with these values it is necessary to increase the absorption material in each space by treating the interior surfaces.Computer room . The recommended values of the reverberation time  are shown in table 2. library. The school is located in a populated area in Amman and problems of echoes. 113 . typical classrooms are located at the first floor. These materials are: acoustic spray on solid backing. The values of reverberation time at mid frequencies are shown in table 1. The main target of the study is to analyze. The results of the calculations show that the values of the reverberation time of spaces in school are much higher than the recommended values. Sprayed cellulose fiber (16 mm) on solid backing and acoustic plaster. It was found that one of the following materials would satisfy the requirements of absorption. Assessment of an EnclosedType School An enclosed-type school has been selected for the study.Corridor Table 4 shows the reverberation time of school spaces before and after treatment at mid frequencies. 1. It is well known that the perceived direction of a sound is solely determined by the first arriving impulse (which is pretty reasonable as this is nearly always the direct sound).WSEAS TRANSACTION ON ACOUSTICS AND MUSIC Issue 2. It was found that the most adequate material from the absorption point of view should have an absorption coefficient as shown in table 3. The school consists of two floors.Multipurpose room . reverberation time is one of the most important factors that determine the acoustical performance of the enclosed spaces and affects the clarity and intelligibility of speech. Vol. 3. The British Association of Teachers of the deaf has set a more rigid requirement on the classroom acoustics in terms of recommended reverberation time. .
The transmission Loss and the Noise Reduction of such composite wall at 1000 Hz are 23 and 19 dB respectively.36 s. These are: Speech Interference Level SIL. Therefore. This measure is known as the four bands SIL. April 2004 ISSN: 1109-9577 It is important to note that the overriding criterion for speech is intelligibility. The background noise must be sufficiently low in level so as to allow communication to take place. which is in line with what we obtained after treatment of ceiling. Noise Level Measurements The background noise plays an important role in the presentation of acoustic signals. from the relation: RT60 = 0.WSEAS TRANSACTION ON ACOUSTICS AND MUSIC Issue 2. We can obtain a good approximation to the subjective feeling of a room. the main sound will be transmitted with little 4. For classrooms it is required to apply NC 35 to define the background noise. among which are high frequency. and the noise reduction of such a composite wall will be much smaller than a wall of concrete block. SIL curves as defined by the ANSI Standard  is used to determine the speech level required for “just reliable” speech communication between talker and receiver at a given distance. 2000 and 4000 HZ. low energy phonemes. The walls separating corridors from classrooms contain doors and windows. Noise Criteria Curves NC. Also. the ideal room must assure the ear’s undistorted reception of these phonemes. The calculations indicated that the external and internal walls provide good sound insulation from background noise and from noise generated within classroom and multipurpose rooms. Two criteria are used to analyze the background noise of the school. measurements of noise levels in the schools are considered to be the first step in evaluation room noise criteria. Table 7 shows Sound Transmission Loss of various types of concrete blocks and walls. The Speech Interference Level is the arithmetic mean of the sound pressure level of a noise in the octave bands centered at 500. The main path of noise will be through corridors. the sound reduction between rooms may be evaluated by calculating Sound Transmission Loss STL. For a typical classroom of 154 m . Vol. for purposes of speech. 1. 1000. Measurements were performed by using Bruel & Kjaer Precision Integration Sound Level Meter SLM Type 2236. In order to determine the required sound insulation between spaces it is necessary to study the data obtained by measurements and to apply the Noise Criteria NC Curves. Table 6 shows the calculated SIL and the expected voice level for a male speaker. The analysis of data shown in table 6 indicate that the noise level in school is very high and in order for speech to be heard it is required to raise the speaker’s voice to level of shout.3 log V 10 3 Once the SIL has been computed. This requires keeping reverberation to a minimum. Therefore. 114 . This is a straight violation of standards for intelligible speech. which mean that a noise level of 86 dB in the corridor will attenuate by 19 dB only and the noise in the room will be 67. the reverberation time for mid frequencies is equal to 0. Since speech of short disconnected sounds of 30 to 300 ms in length. In the case of classroom the communication is speech. The SIL is used to characterize the overall background noise in the speech range of frequencies. SIL for various spaces in school were computed based on measurements of sound pressure levels.
The Education (School Premises) Regulations. and the Transmission Loss of such a composite wall is poor.4 m and the ceiling height is 3. 4. 1. 4. the ceiling of internal spaces should be treated to obtain the recommended values of reverberation time. 5. besides the cost of such doors are so high ($ 2500 to $ 3500) compared to the cost of other building elements in the school. which is 135 JD/m2. (1999) SI 1999 No. 2. The acoustical features of the school are evaluated in terms of parameters that affect the clear and intelligible speech. Classroom acoustics. DfEE. Jan. Statistical Acoustic Based Investigator.45x6. The values of the calculated reverberation time of all internal spaces indicate that the school suffers largely from echo problems. A publication of the technical committee on architectural acoustics of the Acoustical Society of America. Architects and Building Branch. page 13. 1999. the actual cost of such a classroom is 6437 JD and if we deduct the cost of ceiling paint. A cost analysis is performed for one classroom of the school to estimate the extra cost that should be paid to eliminate the echo effect only and to obtain the required reverberation time for speech intelligibility. To that figure we will add the cost of acoustic spray (as an example we apply acoustic spray K13 and the cost per meter square is 17 JD). Rating noise with respect to speech interference. Netherlands. Therefore.WSEAS TRANSACTION ON ACOUSTICS AND MUSIC Issue 2. 2001. and that is applicable practically to all internal spaces. ISBN. SABIN 3. American National Standard Institute (1977). (Revision on design note 17). Vol. Classroom acoustics-Recommended Standards. Conclusions An enclosed-type two floors school was selected as an example to be studied from acoustical point of view. The measurements of noise levels in all internal spaces show that the main path of sound is through the walls separating the rooms from the corridors. 115 . Building Bulletin 87.14-1977. so it is impossible to make the internal spaces very well insulated from the acoustical point of view. Information sheet. 6. The level of the noise will be so high during the breaks and when the students enter or leave the school. Guidelines for environmental design in schools. so the total cost of classroom after treatment of the ceiling will be 7205 JD. Therefore. ISBN 0 11 2710131. Cost Analysis fact that these walls contain doors and windows. The Stationary Office. The dimension of the classroom is 7. it is not recommended to use acoustical doors or double glaze windows. BATOD magazine. ANSI S3. The attenuation through these walls is very limited due to the 5.2 m. It was found that during the teaching process the background noise in classrooms in not so annoying to teachers and students. 2. which is 48 JD. 3. (1997). (2000). 3. Because the school is not provided with A/C systems.0 (2002). The Stationary Office. we will use the figure for ministry of Education in Jordan about the actual cost of such a classroom in urban areas. Acoustical Engineering. The References 1. April 2004 ISSN: 1109-9577 attenuation from corridors to rooms via the separating walls. then the total cost after ceiling paint cutoff will be 6389 JD. Therefore. the mark up on the total cost after ceiling treatment is 11%.
64 0.33 0.44 1.38 1.38 0.26 0.38 1.5 – 1.34 0.21 1.64 1.59 0.23 0.17 Table 2 Recommended ranges of reverberation time at mid frequencies.WSEAS TRANSACTION ON ACOUSTICS AND MUSIC Issue 2.59 0.17 0.2 1.5 – 0. 1.59 0.63 1.34 0. Hz Absorption coefficient 125 0.27 116 .12 Table 4 Values of reverberation time before and after treatment No 1 2 3 4 5 Space type Typical classroom Computer room Library Multipurpose room Corridor Reverberation Time in seconds Before treatment After treatment 1.22 0.25 0. Vol.6 Table 3 Absorption coefficient of material for ceiling treatment Frequency.26 0.8 0.51 250 1.46 1000 0.39 2000 0. April 2004 ISSN: 1109-9577 Table 1 Reverberation time of school spaces at mid frequencies No 1 2 3 4 5 Space Typical classroom Computer room Library Multipurpose room Corridor Reverberation Time in seconds 1.46 1.0 0.4 – 0.23 0. No 1 2 3 4 5 Space Classroom IT and Computer room Library Multipurpose room Corridor Reverberation Time in seconds 0.5 – 0.38 0.55 0.30 4000 0.26 0.08 250 0. Hz 500 1000 0.07 4000 1.47 1.16 500 0.46 1.21 1.16 1.38 0.19 Frequency.8 0.38 1.04 1.34 0.33 1.64 1.52 Table 5 Reverberation time of treated ceiling over a frequency range 125 Hz – 4000 Hz Reverberation Time Type of space Typical classroom Computer room Library Multipurpose room Corridor 125 1.87 2000 1.8 0.18 0.23 0.
9 79 77.3 117 . Hz 125 250 500 1000 44 50 56 62 45 51 58 64 46 52 58 64 48 54 60 66 47 52. April 2004 ISSN: 1109-9577 Table 6 SIL and expected voice level for various spaces in the school Space Classroom Computer Multipurpose room Corridor Landing Sound Interference Level SIL 62 67 94 65 81 Expected voice level Raised to very load Very load Shout at less than 0.5 m Raised to very load Shout Table 7 Sound Transmission Loss for various types of concrete blocks and walls Mass Kg/m 2 Type of wall Hallow block 15 cm with plastering Hallow block 20 cm with plastering Block 15 cm with plastering Block 20 cm with plastering Concrete 15 cm without reinforcing with plastering Concrete 20 cm without reinforcing with plastering Reinforced concrete 15 cm with plastering Reinforced concrete 20 cm with plastering 314 377 396 497 441 559 457 579 Sound Transmission Loss.1 55.8 47 49.9 59.9 73 71.2 4000 74 76 76 78 76.2 60.2 73.1 67. 1.2 79.1 61.2 54.9 48. Vol.8 58.2 66.8 64.9 65.9 53.2 2000 86 70 70 72 70. dB Frequency.WSEAS TRANSACTION ON ACOUSTICS AND MUSIC Issue 2.
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