BB93 Design Regulation: How Acoustic Consultants Are Improving Education
Schools are noisy. Whether its games in the playground or assemblies in the sports hall; the transfer of sound in schools can play a critical role in how a child’s learning is experienced.
A fully harmonious learning experience can only take place if everything is optimised for pupils’ education. This includes sound.
In 2014, the UK government released a new regulation, BB93, to ensure acoustics in new-build schools are up to the highest possible standard. This was updated in 2015 to ensure the maximum standard of learning environment for all.
Read on to find out how BB93 is improving learning for everybody in education!
What Is The BB93 Design Regulation?
Building Bulletin 93 Design Regulation (BB93), is a regulation document issued with the intent of ensuring acoustics in schools are conducive to a child’s learning.
BB93 Design For Schools outlines the recommended guidelines for architects and builders of schools and other educational facilities relating to acoustics. It requires all learning environments to have “the acoustic conditions and the insulation against disturbance by noise appropriate to its intended use.”
The level of noise will vary from school to school, depending on location. School in built-up areas such as Birmingham are more likely to have traffic noise than school in more rural parts of the West Midlands, for example.
The BB93 Design Regulation is intended to ensure that regardless of the location, no child feels that they have been impeded in their learning because of the noise that they exposed during the school day.
Acoustic regulations in schools are not just designed to protect children. Standard classrooms in new-build primary and secondary schools should not exceed an indoor ambient noise level of 35dB LAeq,30mins, whereas it is recommended that refurbished schools do not breach 40dB LAeq,30mins.
The Advice On Standards For School Premises document produced by the UK government states that the acoustic environment of a classroom must be designed so that teachers are able to clearly communicate with students “without straining their voices”.
Quieter Classrooms = Improved Learning
Suitable indoor ambient noise levels to enable clear communication. This requires all classrooms to minimise disturbances from outside contributors such as traffic or ventilation equipment as well as adequate sound insulation of internal walls and floors to minimise disturbance from the sound generated in adjacent areas such as other classrooms and corridors.
To achieve this disturbance from external noise must be minimised by ensuring the adequate sound insulation of the building. Indoors, ambient noise levels will vary depending on the activity taking place.
Some noise sensitive activities, such as listening to music or learning a language, are less tolerant of background noise, as are rooms used for teaching pupils with hearing impairment and some other special educational needs. A relatively short reverberation time is needed to ensure that speech is clearly heard and understood.
This is important for teachers and students. Teachers should not be required to shout in order to be heard and students’ concentration should not be impeded by high levels of noise. Poor concentration can drastically impact grades; the role of the BB93 Design Regulation is to protect students and teachers alike.
Who Is Exempt?
There are a number of institutions within education that are exempt from part E4 of The Building Regulations ADE.
Schools that are being refurbished, rather than built from scratch (or undergoing material change), for example, are not covered in part E4. This is also true of nurseries that are not a part of a school.
While these education settings are exempt from the part E4 of The Building Regulations, they should still adhere to the governments Advice On Standards For School Premises document which higher education facilities and colleges are not bound by. The level of performance required in such instances is usually determined by the local authority.
Temporary buildings on school premises that will be in place for less than 28 days are also exempt from the BB93 Design and Requirement E4. However, if these buildings are extensions onto new school buildings that will be in place for longer, then they should comply with BB93.
The standard length of planning permission for temporary buildings on schools is two years; if temporary buildings are to be in place for the entirety of this period then they must comply to the BB93 Design Regulation.
About Prism Acoustics
Prism Acoustics are leading acoustic consultants based in Birmingham in the West Midlands.
Prism work alongside architects, designers and developers, offering acoustic consultancy on a range of projects in the following sectors:
- Sound monitoring and acoustic modelling for live events.
Prism are currently developing the next generation of acoustic prediction software, using virtual reality to demonstrate how the sound will carry before development work has even started! We can carry out environmental noise surveys and will work alongside you to ensure that your acoustic needs are met to the highest standard.