Schools are unequipped when it comes to following new acoustical standards, according to ARI.

ARLINGTON, Va. - The cost to retrofit classrooms to meet acoustical standards will increase by 4 percent to 19 percent, according to a recent study from the Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute.

The study was conducted to measure the financial impact of meeting ANSI Standard 12.60, "Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements and Guidelines for Schools." ARI commissioned a study by Armstrong, Torseth, Skold & Rydeen Inc., an architectural and engineering firm engaged in school construction and renovation.

The objectives of the study were to survey the acoustical performance characteristics for existing classroom construction using various system types, and to design and estimate the cost to implement classroom changes as required by the ANSI standard.

Sixteen schools were evaluated and three classrooms in each school were studied, for a total of 48 classrooms. According to ARI, the study found the average ambient noise level in the tested classrooms was 47 decibels. The standard requires classrooms to have an ambient noise level of no more than 35 decibels.

None of the classrooms in the study met the ANSI standard requirements for interior partition sound transmission. All but one of the classrooms passed the reverberation time requirements of the ANSI standard. Also, all but one of the classrooms passed the exterior isolation requirements for the standard.

Based on this information, the study redesigned the classrooms to meet ANSI requirements and determined the cost of making these modifications would increase a school's construction costs by 4 percent to 19 percent.

An executive summary of the report can be found at www.ari.org.