Background

Acoustical performance is an important consideration in the design of classrooms.  Research indicates that levels of background noise and reverberation, little noticed by adults, adversely affect learning environments for young children, who require optimal conditions for hearing and comprehension.  Poor classroom acoustics are an additional educational barrier for children who have hearing loss and those who use cochlear implants, since assistive technologies amplify both wanted and unwanted sound.  Children who have temporary hearing loss, who may comprise up to 15% of the school age population according to the Centers for Disease Control, are also significantly affected, as are children who have speech impairments or learning disabilities.  Kids whose home language is different than the teaching language are also at additional risk of educational delay and failure.

Adopted Classroom Acoustics Standards and Directives

 

Adopted the ANSI/ASA S12.60 Classroom Acoustics Standard

The following entities have adopted the original (2002) edition of the ANSI/ASA S12.60-2010 American National Standard Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools:

New Hampshire Department of Education

New Jersey School Construction Board

State of Connecticut

Ohio School Facility Commission

New York City Public Schools

Arlington County (VA) Public Schools

 

Other Classroom Acoustics Standards/Directives in Use

These entities use similar standards or directives to address classroom acoustics:

New York State Department of Education

Los Angeles Unified School District

State of Minnesota

Minneapolis Public Schools

Washington State Board of Health

Washington, DC Public Schools

California Collaborative for High-Performance Schools (CHPS)

Northeast Collaborative for High-Performing Schools

Seattle School District

Redmond WA School District

Portland OR School District

Clark County NV School District

Maryland State Department of Education (cites ANSI/ASA S12.60-2002)

University of Minnesota

School District of Philadelphia

Poudre District Schools, Fort Collins (CO) (uses ANSI/ASA S12.60-2002)

 

International Standards and Guidelines

Countries that have implemented standards and guidelines for classroom acoustics include:

Australia and New Zealand: AS/NZ2107 (2000)

Denmark

Finland

Germany: DIN 18041 (2004)

Italy

Netherlands: NPR 3438

Sweden

Switzerland

UK: Building Bulletin 93 (2003)

World Health Organization (WHO)

 

Acoustics and Sustainable/Green Design

Building design features that promote sustainability are also effective in achieving good acoustics.  LEED objectives include criteria for classroom acoustics, and the Massachusetts Collaborative for High Performance Schools Standard offers credit for meeting the ANSI/ASA S12.60-2002 standard.