New mandatory acoustic testing in UK schools

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Courtesy of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

As a result of campaigning by the National Deaf Children’s Society,The Department for Children, Schools and Families, has recently announced a set of guidelines to improve acoustics in schools in England and Wales. Whilst acoustic standards in schools have been regulated by Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) since 2003, there is currently no mandatory requirement for pre-completion testing to demonstrate ultimate compliance with BB93 performance standards. Instead, compliance is demonstrated by a Building Control submission report at design stage.

Pre-completion acoustic testing

As part of the announcement, The DCSF have said that funding for future Building Schools for the Future projects may not be approved without a contractual commitment to demonstrate compliance with BB93 by means of acoustic testing. In addition, future funding may be withheld in Boroughs already involved in the BSF scheme, until compliance is demonstrated at the most recently funded school. This announcement places a greater commitment on BSF scheme developers and design teams in ensuring the standards are achieved.

Alternative Performance Standards (APS)

In addition, the DSCF and Department for Communities and Local Government will be writing jointly to every Building Control Body in England and Wales, reminding them of the importance of acoustics in all schools. BCBs will be asked not to approve APS proposals without ‘a full and proper case made in accordance with BB93’. BB93 states that an APS ‘may be appropriate for particular educational, environmental or health and safety reasons’. A written submission should be provided to the BCB explaining the technical basis for the APS, together with written justification from the Educational Provider for its need and suitability.

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