When incorporated correctly into your school building, the right flooring can become more than just a static, functional material. Your chosen surface can actually help transform your education facility into an environment more conducive to learning. And one of the biggest components of that transformation is controlling acoustics in the classroom.
The acoustics of the learning environment, including classrooms, libraries and lecture halls, are critical to learning in education facilities. After all, standing in front of students in a classroom or lecture hall delivering a lecture has little impact if the message cannot be heard! While most building materials simply transfer noise throughout your space, the acoustic properties of rubber contribute to a quieter environment.
Supporting modern modes of learning
As more and more schools turn to flexible group learning, noise levels are of consequential concern. Phoenix High School found rubber flooring to be the solution when addressing noise in a newly purchased 19,000-square-foot building to house their growing alternative-track educational program. Officials were worried that replacing existing carpet tile and VCT would result in higher noise levels. But they quickly realized that rubber floor coverings could meet their requirement for a low-maintenance, noise-absorbing surface.
“With students frequently spilling in the previous facility, we knew we didn’t want to cover our new floors with carpet. It was too difficult to keep clean,” explains Doug Carl, director of capital projects at the Kennewick, WA school. “At the same time, noise became the issue in the new, wide-open space. nora® absorbs that unwanted noise and also repels spills.”
Thanks to the acoustic properties of the new school building, Phoenix is able to fulfill its mission to provide project-based education that better suits their student body’s learning style.
“It’s not a traditional high school; the students sit in their own desks all day long. They don’t move from classroom to classroom. That is their learning space. Then there is an open area where they are constantly doing presentations of things they are working on. So it’s a wide-open collaborative concept,” says Carl.
He adds, “nora softens the echoes of an open expanse, allowing students to better learn and concentrate.”
Benefits for every segment of education
Education is multifaceted. From elementary to university, building requirements for these institutions range significantly. In some cases, these requirements even vary from one classroom to the next. Take, for example, a school laboratory. At University of Colorado’s Ekeley Sciences Building, officials faced the challenge of taking a 40-plus-year-old building and transforming it to support a modern lab learning space that hosts up to 3,500 students per year. The renovation called for durable flooring that reduces stains and slips while providing underfoot comfort for staff and students — all while mitigating distracting noise commonly found in lab areas.
“Acoustics were also particularly important, because the labs are naturally noisy from the fume hoods,” says Tad Koch, Ph.D., professor emeritus. “nora met that need better than anything else we looked at.” The resulting facility is not only more quiet, but safer, too, as students can better hear instructions. “This is a modern lab so the safety and health of all the people who work and study in that space is just leaps and bounds beyond what it ever was before,” says Larry Hill, project manager.
For many schools, rubber flooring simply offers the ease of maintenance, acoustic control and ease of installation not offered by other conventional materials like carpet tile and VCT.
During the renovation process at D.J. Montague Elementary School, facility officials sought to brighten the elementary atmosphere with flooring that contributes to learning by dampening noise. Additionally, they sought to replace the existing carpeting with a product that could be maintained more efficiently. At the recommendation of architects, officials at the Williamsburg, VA school made the decision to install 28,000 feet of norament® grano in corridors, entryways, classroom and cafeterias. Now, teachers and staff rave about the flooring’s effect to help reduce noise, keeping the facility quiet and conducive to learning.
Front Range Community College experienced a similar result in improved acoustic quality after upgrading the school’s Harmony Library. By replacing slate in high-traffic entrance areas with norament® serra, the Fort Collins, CO library is now a quieter facility that offers patrons a higher degree of slip resistance. As an added benefit, carts can maneuver freely and easily throughout the space without causing noisy disruptions to study sessions and readers.
“Switching to the nora® flooring is a much improved change from what we had,” says Annie Fox, campus librarian. The end result is a beautifully designed facility that efficiently and quietly serves the more than half a million annual visitors to Harmony Library — a joint-use operated by the college and the Poudre River Public Library District.
You can’t control all aspects of your school facility. But by installing rubber floor coverings in high noise-level areas, you can contribute to a more pleasant and productive learning environment for both students and teaching staff. See what acoustic control in the classroom can do for you.