A loud, stuffy classroom where children are disengaged and struggle to absorb information, while the frazzled teacher tries to get their class under control is a well-known trope; and unfortunately, all too common. Teaching abilities aside, what this archetype speaks to is a space that is not properly treated for learning. Not acoustically fit for purpose, and not appropriately thermally insulated to manage the temperatures inside and outside the classroom.
These are basic problems that can be remedied with the right insulation. Australian students deserve the best learning environments, and that means learning spaces that provide thermal and acoustic comfort as the building blocks of great learning outcomes.
The impact of buildings on learning
Researchers from Australia and overseas have found that the quality of indoor thermal and acoustic comfort and indoor air quality have a direct impact on the health, learning and productivity of students and teachers. Similarly, acoustic and thermal comfort are important cornerstones of students’ academic performance and wellness. In fact, classroom design can influence a student’s academic performance by up to 25%, both positively and negatively. It can also impact the development of social skills, exacerbate behavioural issues, and contribute to (or detract from) wellbeing, motivation and productivity.
A field study conducted in Sydney classrooms found that both indoor temperature and CO2 concentration increases students’ feeling of fatigue and decreases their ability to concentrate. It’s widely accepted that an optimal learning environment is one in which students feel “slightly cool” to “cool”. An indoor operative temperature of about 22.5°C was found to be the students’ neutral and preferred temperature. This temperature is cooler than what is expected for adults under the same thermal conditions, suggesting that children feel more comfortable at cooler temperatures compared to adults.
Similarly when it comes to acoustic comfort, research has shown that classrooms with poor acoustics make it difficult for students to understand speech in the classroom, leading to a loss of concentration and disconnection from their learning environment. Uncontrolled noise is a growing problem in Australian classrooms, but despite this, there’s a growing trend towards open-plan classrooms in Australia that feature multiple classes of children working collaboratively in groups or independently within the same space.
Pushing the envelope
One of the best ways to improve indoor conditions is through a high-performing building envelope, in which effective insulation is critical. A well-insulated building can dampen noise as well as reduce temperature fluctuations, drastically improving the prevalence of positive learning outcomes for students, and improved health and wellbeing for teachers. Meticulously designed glasswool insulation solutions can impact a range of performance parameters including energy efficiency, thermal bridging, fire resistance, internal comfort, acoustics, moisture, air tightness, and durability.
Designers and specifiers should consider both the roof and the external walls when planning a learning space. Building blanket-style insulation, when installed correctly in roof cavities can significantly reduce heat transfer through the roof, as well as reverberation inside the room, and noise transfer from external sources such as rain or hail on a corrugated roof. For external walls, insulation of varying R-values, densities and thicknesses can be specified to directly meet the needs of the specific space.
It’s also essential, however, to consider the internal parts of the space - ceilings, partitions, underfloors, and services. Without proper insulation here, noise transfer between classrooms or hallways drastically increases, and the thermal comfort generated by a well-insulated envelope is quickly lost.
Specifying the best for our kids
Fletcher Insulation takes an integrated approach to building insulation through critical thinking and a technically sound understanding of acoustics, indoor thermal comfort, condensation management, air quality, and fire safety requirements. They examine how they interact and work both within the building envelope and beyond.
Permastop® Building Blanket features effective thermal and acoustic properties to reduce heat transfer and minimise the internal reverberation and flow of distracting noise, while also allowing architects and specifiers to optimise building space.
Exclusive to Fletcher Insulation, the R3.6 Permastop® Building Blanket, for example, offers the highest thermal performance for a 130mm blanket on the market. To reduce thermal bridging, Fletcher’s Roof Razor product can be combined with Permastop®. Roof Razor allows full recovery of the insulation blanket between the safety wire mesh and metal cladding. By combining these products, a building designer will achieve optimum thermal performance, meeting or exceeding NCC requirements.
Fletcher Insulation’s Pink® Partition range of glasswool insulation features outstanding performance capabilities. With proven non-combustibility and acoustic performance, the product also features a comprehensive range of R-values, densities and thicknesses.
Ceilings, partitions and services
Fletcher Insulation’s Pink Partition range is ideal for all types of learning spaces. Pink Partition insulation provides excellent thermal insulation properties, with R-values ranging from R1.2 to R3.5. By keeping buildings cooler in summer and warmer in winter, it helps meet the thermal comfort needs of students and teachers. Made in Australia from up to 80% recycled content, the Pink Partition range is designed to meet AAAC recommendations – from low to high ratings.
Good for learning, good for the environment.
Fletcher Insulation products are ODP-free, in both the finished product and in the manufacturing process, and are manufactured using recycled materials whenever possible. Up to 80% of the glass used in the company’s glasswool insulation production is recycled, transforming a waste product destined for landfill into an environmental defender. They also contain no harmful VOCs, helping to maintain indoor air quality.
With one of Australia’s widest distribution and sales coverage networks, Fletcher Insulation provides energy efficient and acoustic solutions to the residential, commercial, HVAC and industrial markets. The company manufactures and distributes a wide range of insulation products specially designed for thermal and acoustic systems.
Using their range of sustainable insulation materials in walls and ceilings, under floors and roofs, around building services and in and around the HVAC, Fletcher Insulation can help designers create more comfortable places to learn, teach, and work.
Contact Fletcher Insulation for more information: 1300 654 444 or email: [email protected] or visit insulation.com.au