Why Perform Sound Analysis:
As more and more attention is being directed towards sustainability and high performance buildings, one of the areas seeing the most attention is sound and vibration. Why the sudden interest in S&V? For a space to perform at a high level, it must be completely functional. An acoustically correct environment is paramount to the functionality of spaces:
Sound & Sustainability:
Until recently, sustainable design has concentrated primarily on energy efficiency. What was often overlooked is human efficiency. Employees are usually a company’s most valuable asset, and on average, labor is 100 times more expensive than energy. Think about that- If a proper acoustic environment can increase worker productivity by even a couple of percent, the money saved can pay for the energy use in the entire building.
Excessive noise levels can have a major impact on employee morale and relations. Building occupants can be annoyed and uncomfortable in a noisy space, without consciously making the connection to noise. Noise can cause irritation, annoyance, anxiety, anti-social behavior, hostility, and even violence.
Also consider the role that sound plays in health and safety. Hearing loss (from noise exposure) is one of the top occupational hazards, and is 100% preventable. Studies have shown that employees that suffer from hearing loss are also 55% more likely to have an accident. Noise can cause headaches, tinnitus, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Some studies have even linked excessive noise to respiratory ailments and negative fetal development.
A space that contains any of the scenarios above can hardly be considered to be a “high performance” environment. In fact, it is just the opposite. The industry as a whole is realizing the impact of buildings on our environment through not only air, water, and land pollution, but light and noise pollution as well.
A Changing Industry:
Owners have already taken note of the impact of acoustics to their bottom lines. How is the industry addressing these issues? For starters, sound requirements are being referenced to a much greater extent in building codes and design standards, as well as LEED, including: