Architectural acoustics is the study of sound in homes and other buildings and the design of those structures for optimal acoustic performance, including control of sound transmission throughout the building, maintaining conditions for good speech intelligibility, and maintaining sound isolation for speech privacy.
All the sounds we hear on a daily basis can contribute to a host of problems. Environmental noise, in particular, is an area of focus for European researchers who have recently measured the health complications it can present. In addition to negatively affecting the occupants’ energy level, those complications can include everything from heart disease and tinnitus to sleep deprivation and cognitive impairment, with the potential to take years off the average person’s life.
Environmental noise includes:
Transportation noise (road traffic, railway and aircraft, wind turbine noise, etc)
Leisure noise refers to all noise sources that people are exposed to during activities such as attending nightclubs, restaurants, fitness classes, live sporting events or live music venues, and listening to loud music through personal listening devices.
Within the built environment, it would be easy to think that indoor noise might not have any adverse impact compared to environmental noise. However, even within the confines of a building, architectural acoustics play a significant role in the occupant’s experience (e.g. environmental noise can be periodic and decrease during evening hours and overnight, while excessive reverberation inside a room is always present, interfering with every word spoken).
Every element of a building’s construction contributes to its acoustical characteristics. It’s more than just walls and ceilings: its shapes, surfaces, furniture, light fixtures, mechanical systems and materials used in construction all have an impact on a building’s acoustics. When the acoustical properties of materials are not considered during the specification process, the result is too often a poor acoustical environment. The conversation around healthier buildings often focuses on light and air quality, but the noise levels also significantly impact health and well-being. Increasingly, though, many industry standards, guidelines and building rating systems now have acoustic criteria sections, elevating the importance of acoustics in building occupant well-being.
In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its Environmental Noise Guidelines for the first time since 1999, with new research confirming that noise has negative impacts on human health and is becoming a growing concern. The data shows that improving indoor environmental quality (IEQ) results in a substantial benefit for occupants. That’s why Acoustica Projects supports including health and well-being as criteria for how we evaluate, renovate, and develop buildings – especially our homes, schools, offices, and hospitals.
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