The Priority Schools Building Programme, for example, focuses on better learning environments that are low maintenance, have low running costs and maximise natural light, while maintaining a comfortable space both atheistically as well as thermally.
All this has to be achieved alongside design standardisation to reduce cost, complexity and build time and the output specification from the Education Funding Agency (with which the school has to consult about their needs, rather than a main contractor) which outlines the requirements of the school and baseline designs.
1. Any room will have an optimum reverberation time (RT) requirement depending upon its use and size and whether the main activity is speech or music based. Providing too much sound absorption, and hence having a very low RT, can be just as acoustically damaging and undesirable as having insufficient sound absorption when an excessively long reverberation time will result. Office workers improve their focus on tasks by 48% when speech privacy is improved.
2. You can calculate the reverberation time of space by using a mathematical model based upon the “Sabine” formula which takes into account the significant surfaces of a room, their respective sound absorption coefficients and the room dimensions. An acoustic module available from some manufacturers enables a simple indicative calculation to be made. Once the total sound absorption present in a room (from both planar surfaces and objects) has been calculated, an estimate can be made of the room’s probable reverberation time. The installation of clouds and canopies in a reverberant space can significantly reduce the reverberation time and contribute to the reduction in background noise.
3. Fire resistance in a suspended ceiling can only be achieved by a combined tile and grid system as there is no such thing as a fire resistant tile or a fire resistant grid. Depending upon national legislation, the type of structure to be protected (wood, concrete or steel) and a manufacturer’s product offer, ceiling systems can typically provide at least 30 and more than 60 minutes’ protection. Full details of the ceiling type and construction, protected structure and tested time are given in fire reports available from the manufacturer.
4. The increased use of concrete thermal slabs as heat sinks rules out wall-to-wall ceilings. But not having an acoustic ceiling will mean higher reverberation times and unacceptable noise levels. The installation of canopies in a reverberant space, in sufficient numbers and layout to satisfy both technical and aesthetic considerations, can significantly reduce the reverberation time and contribute to the reduction in background noise and occupants’ comfort and well-being.
5. It is now possible to calculate (according to ISO 14021) exactly what degree of recycled content a ceiling tile comprises, and recycling schemes such as those for the off-cuts from new installations and end-of-life tiles from refurbishment and strip out projects, both of which divert waste from landfill, will increase this ratio exponentially. Some ceiling tiles comprise more than 70% recycled material and some ceiling systems are capable of achieving an Ecopoints rating of 0.16.
6. According to a Brinjac Engineering study* on the environmental effect of high-light reflectance ceilings, the use of a 90% light reflectance ceiling tile combined with indirect lighting can provide cost savings of up to 20%, equating to as much as an 11% reduction of the energy buildings use, compared with a standard 75% light reflectance tile. Canopies installed over an individual working place can improve the light reflection over that space and provide improved user comfort without affecting other areas.
7. Standard ceiling tiles can not only be used to hide or integrate service elements such as lighting fixtures, loudspeakers, air diffusers, chilled beams and sprinkler systems, but provide minimal grid visibility for a clean and monolithic ceiling finish. The system can also be integrated into canopies to offer design solutions for thermal mass and is flexible enough to allow the re-configuring of room layouts and service element positions without moving ceiling panels.
Armstrong World Industries Limited
1 George Street,
Uxbridge UB8 1QQ
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