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Building acoustics is a large subject and is applicable to a wide range of situations and are a design requirement for almost all types of structure or building. Whether it is a residential dwelling where the requirement is to meet the requirements for the Building Regulations Part E, or it is an industrial plant room experiencing excessing background noise and vibration levels and the exposure to personnel is important to control. Hotels, schools or hospitals etc where the acoustic design requirements will include sound insulation between different areas of the building, internal noise climates and the reverberation times, M&E noise and vibration mitigation within the building, and where speech intelligibility and speech transmissibility are all important factors.
Façade sound transmission testing assesses the noise transmission from building exterior envelope to interior and vice versa. The main noise paths are roofs, eaves, walls, windows, door and penetrations. Appropriate noise control design and techniques ensure space functionality and is often required based on building use and local municipal codes. An example would be providing a suitable design for a home which is to be constructed close to a high volume roadway, or under the flight path of a major airport, or of the airport itself.
Internal acoustic design includes limiting and/or controlling noise transmission from one building space to another to ensure space functionality and speech privacy. The typical sound paths are either direct transmission through, or flanked through ceilings, room partitions, acoustic ceiling panels (such as wood dropped ceiling panels), doors, windows, ducting and other penetrations. Technical solutions depend on the source of the noise and the path of acoustic transmission, for example noise by steps or noise by (air, water) flow vibrations. An example would be providing suitable party wall design in an apartment complex to minimize the mutual disturbance due to noise by residents in adjacent apartments.
A major area of building acoustics is the acoustic design of the space to achieve the desired acoustic climate. Controlling a room’s surfaces based on sound absorbing and reflecting properties is directly proportional to the reverberation time of the room or space. Excessive reverberation time, which can be calculated, can lead to poor speech intelligibility, and colouration and reduced clarity and poor quality of reproduced and live music.
Sound reflections create standing waves that produce natural resonances or room modes. Reflective surfaces can be angled and coordinated to provide good coverage of sound for a listener in a concert hall or music recital space. To illustrate this concept consider the difference between a modern large office meeting room or lecture theatre and a traditional classroom with all hard surfaces.
Interior building surfaces can be constructed of many different materials and finishes. Ideal acoustical panels are those without a face or finish material that interferes with the acoustical infill or substrate. Fabric covered panels are one way to heighten acoustical absorption. Perforated metal also shows sound absorbing qualities. Finish material is used to cover over the acoustical substrate. Mineral fiber board, or Micore, is a commonly used acoustical substrate. Finish materials often consist of fabric, wood or acoustical tile. Fabric can be wrapped around substrates to create what is referred to as a “pre-fabricated panel” and often provides good noise absorption if laid onto a wall.
There are four ways to improve workplace acoustics and solve workplace sound problems – the ABCDs.
A = Absorb (via drapes, carpets, ceiling tiles, etc.)
B = Block (via panels, walls, floors, ceilings and layout)
C = Cover-up (via sound masking)
D = Diffuse (cause the sound energy to spread by radiating in many directions)
SAVE are experienced in many types of architectural and building acoustics developments, including:
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