ASHRAE Journal - January 2021 - 51

ENGINEER'S NOTEBOOK
COLUMN

Learning to Use
Architectural Acoustics
In Engineering
BY DAVID WRIGHT; JEFF BOLDT, P.E., HBDP, FELLOW ASHRAE

Last month's " Engineer's Notebook " column about acoustics reviewed how acoustical
design has become fundamental for the A/E/C industry and offered a simple vocabulary of basic acoustic terms. This column introduces how room functionality improves
with improved architectural acoustics, especially in rooms used for collaboration,
instruction, and assembly where clear speech is needed.
Acoustics has clearly become a fundamental in architectural design in which speech intelligibility and
acoustic comfort including HVAC ambient background
noise have become more important. We have seen the
need dramatically increase during the 2020 - 2021 pandemic when remote conferencing imposes a new standard of care.
For instance, learning can be improved with better
acoustics and noise control, and room acoustical design
is now routine in the educational market for remote
conferencing where large classrooms are used. Both
professors and students are demanding better interaction from remote classrooms. They want less of the
ubiquitous " Can you hear me now? " syndrome imposed
on their workflow.
These classrooms should be designed for quiet (low
noise criteria, NC) and short room reverberation time
without echo (RT60). This is particularly evident for the
students at the remote location who must engage and
collaborate interactively without distraction from noise,

echo and poor speech clarity.
Universities have begun budgeting for more seamless
presentations for their educational venues. Good design
for acoustics allows people and audiovisual (AV) systems
to work better and support the hearing impaired, the
student with an attention deficit and the student with a
youthful lack of concentration, for example. When we
hear better, we see and learn better due to less distraction and better concentration.

The Room
Advanced learning spaces must support live inperson engagement, then transfer that quality
clearly to a remote site. People at interactive remote
sites must be able to chime in without being cut off,
chopped, truncated, or have excessive room reverberation. Architectural acoustics can either support or
David Wright is senior acoustic technical specialist and senior AV designer, and
Jeff Boldt, P.E., is director of innovation and quality at IMEG Corporation. Boldt is
SSPC 90.1 mechanical subcommittee chair.
JAN UARY 2021

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ASHRAE Journal - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ASHRAE Journal - January 2021

Contents
ASHRAE Journal - January 2021 - Intro
ASHRAE Journal - January 2021 - Cover1
ASHRAE Journal - January 2021 - Cover2
ASHRAE Journal - January 2021 - 1
ASHRAE Journal - January 2021 - 1a
ASHRAE Journal - January 2021 - 1b
ASHRAE Journal - January 2021 - Contents
ASHRAE Journal - January 2021 - 3
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ASHRAE Journal - January 2021 - Cover3
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