Acoustics in the classroom has always had an impact on the ability of students to learn because it directly affects listening. This is especially true for young children, students with learning disabilities, and students whose second language is English. Although acoustics in the classroom has been a concern and topic of discussion for over 50 years, only recently have designers and school districts embraced the need for good acoustics. Both Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) standards for new and remodeled schools require that minimum acoustical standards be met for a school to be considered in either incentive program. Additional points are awarded for schools that exhibit acoustical performance above the minimums. LEED for schools and CHPS are both based upon the American National Standard Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools(ANSI S12.60-2010).
- ANSI 12.60 – Developed through the Acoustical Society of America (download). Criteria, requirements, and guidelines highlighting acoustical qualities needed to achieve a high degree of speech intelligibility for learning spaces. Acoustical characteristics within the standard include reverberation times, background sound levels from both the HVAC system and exterior sources, and sound transmission between adjacent learning spaces.
- CHPS – Acoustical standards are contained within the Indoor Environmental Quality section of the CHPS program. EQ 3.0 of the California CHPS Criteria (2009) lists the minimum acoustical performance criteria required to meet the CHPS program. Background sound level and reverberation time limits are provided for classrooms. Additional points can be earned by meeting more stringent background sound level limits listed in EQ 3.1
- LEED® for Schools – Acoustical standards are contained within the Indoor Environmental Quality section of the LEED for Schools program. IEQ Prerequisite 3 refers to ANSI 12.60-2002 for maximum reverberation times and minimum sound transmission class ratings for partitions separating core learning spaces. Minimum background sound level requirements are listed in this prerequisite with additional points available through IEQ Credit 9, where core learning spaces must meet progressively lower background sound levels.