Employing a new acoustically improved HVAC unit at its Audiology Laboratory, where students’ hearing is tested, proved to be a sound decision. The new unit reduced the overall ambient noise level in the clinic from 58 to 37 decibels.

The ability to hear properly is one of the most important factors in a child’s ability to process and learn new information. According to the Institute for Enhanced Classroom Learning, children in today’s classrooms have difficulty understanding 20% to 30% of what their teacher said because of excessive ambient background noise. One of the biggest contributors to this noise has traditionally been a school’s HVAC system, which typically operates at ambient noise levels that are considered to be too high for classroom instruction.

A Prototype

Just as the Val Verde Unified School District in Perris, CA was looking for ways to improve the quality and acoustical environment in their modular classroom units, Geary Pacific Supply and Bard Manufacturing were completing independent field-testing of their new Quiet Climate 2 HVAC unit. A new national standard for overall ambient noise in the classroom led the two companies to team up to create an acoustically improved HVAC unit that would enhance the learning environment in schools. The new wall-mounted unit was designed to not only work well with new construction but also be able to be easily retrofitted to older construction, including portable classroom units.

In its quest to improve its modular classrooms, Val Verde officials decided to build their own prototype classroom that would create better sound insulation from outside noise while providing needed shade from the sun. “In conjunction with our prototype construction, we wanted to see if we could obtain quieter operating air conditioning units,” said Todd Butcher, director of maintenance and operation at Val Verde. “Our ultimate goal was to additionally reduce the overall decibel levels within each of our classrooms.”

That’s when Val Verde turned to Geary Pacific, the local distributor of Bard HVAC equipment. Geary Pacific recommended they try the Quiet Climate 2 because it provides operating sound levels that are 20 to 35 times quieter than a standard wall-mounted heat pump. In addition, the unit is 44% more energy efficient and uses green refrigerants. Val Verde decided to test the Quiet Climate 2 in the single best environment for testing noise levels - the district’s Audiology Laboratory where students’ hearing is tested.

Quiet and Clear

Since the Quiet Climate 2 was installed, the overall ambient noise level in the clinic has dropped from 58 to 37 decibels. “The environment for evaluating our students as improved by at least 200%,” said Randy Lerner, district audiologist. “I used to have to turn our old unit off when conducting testing. Now students comment on how quiet the lab is - and that’s when the unit is on!”

Because of its success with the Audiology Laboratory, Val Verde is using Quiet Climate 2 units in its new May Ranch Elementary School. “Geary Pacific overwhelmingly proved to us that they are able to help us reduce the sound levels in our school’s classrooms. If they can make our audiologist as confident as he is with the laboratory’s ambient noise level, we know the units will perform just as well in our regular classrooms.”
Val Verde’s positive experience with the Quiet Climate 2 is prompting other districts to take a look at the new product. “When you combine that benefit with the fact that the unit is 10 to 15 decibels quieter than most units currently in use, it’s causing many districts to take a closer look at their HVAC systems,” said Maury Tiernan, Geary Pacific’s Bard project manager. “Schools want to provide good learning environments for their students, and now we’re able to provide a solution that helps them do just that.”ES