Armstrong Ceiling Solutions’ Top 5 tips for specifying education ceilings

With the new school year imminent, latest research by public sector procurement specialist Scape Group shows 640 new schools will be needed over the next two years.

To handle the demand, Scape Group is asking for focus on delivering a strategy and solutions which not only provide high-quality, modern spaces for teaching and learning but also offer local authorities cost certainty, value for money and timely delivery.

But buildings for education are among those which have particularly onerous design requirements.

Five top tips for education ceiling design:

  1. Research shows that on any given day, thousands of students are unable to understand 1 out of every 4 spoken words in classrooms due to inadequate acoustics. In addition, teacher surveys consistently rank noisy classrooms and vocal fatigue high on their list of frustrations. TIP: A medium-density ceiling tile, strikes the right balance between both sound attenuation and sound absorption, blocking unwanted noise from outside while enhancing sound quality inside.
  2. Any area in an education setting 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. An acoustic module available from some manufacturers enables a simple indicative calculation of reverberation time to be made. TIP: The installation of clouds and canopies in a reverberant space such as dining halls, lobbies and school halls, 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. TIP: Depending upon national legislation, the type of structure to be protected and a manufacturer’s product offer, ceiling systems can provide at least 30 and more than 60 minutes’ protection against fire.
  4. The acoustic treatment of ceilings does not have to come at the expense of other educational “technologies” which are increasingly integrated as more IT and interactive systems are applied to help the teaching and learning of students in multiple ways. TIP: Ceiling systems can offer integrated solutions that incorporate all necessary ceiling fixtures as well as IT appliances, while also providing a seamless monolithic look.
  5. Poor lighting and glare in the classroom can also cause eye strain and fatigue for both staff and students. TIP: A well-designed ceiling with high light reflectance improves the overall illumination and lighting uniformity of the room, directly affecting students’ working comfort and productivity. In addition, high light reflectance ceiling tiles can provide cost savings of up to 20%, equating to as much as an 11% reduction of the energy buildings use.

For more information on specifying education ceilings, visit our education page where you can also download the Armstrong Ceiling Solutions education brochure.

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