The Challenge of Meeting both Acoustic and Thermal Comfort in 21st Century School Classrooms

Regular paper

Colin Campbell

Saint-Gobain Ecophon AB

Tuesday 2 june, 2015, 09:00 - 09:20

0.9 Athens (118)

The benefits of "thermal mass" in stabilizing temperature for thermal comfort and reducing building energy consumption for sustainable green buildings are well documented. However, when exposing the concrete soffit for thermal purposes it is then not possible to have a fully covered sound absorbing suspended ceiling in classrooms for acoustic comfort. In turn, this makes it a potential compromise to achieve good acoustic comfort while still utilizing the thermal mass of the exposed soffit. For this paper we measured a classroom configuration with free hanging sound absorbing units and wall absorbers in comparison to measuring a fully covering traditional suspended ceiling. We looked into optimising the low frequency imbalance - a potential negative consequence from not having a full suspended ceiling - with an enclosed void which can trap the low frequency sound (125Hz) which can build up and interfere with the important speech frequencies. We looked at the challenge of optimizing the acoustic coverage range without affecting the thermal comfort. We also wanted to improve the balance of the potentially negative low frequencies to support good speech communication and acoustic comfort for all students and teachers, while also seeing if it is possible to provide an inclusive acoustic environment for sensitive listeners. Our mission was to make the combined thermal and acoustic free hanging unit classroom solution perform as close as possible to a fully covering acoustic solution which optimises acoustic conditions for all speech and listening activities and is inclusive for sensitive listeners.

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