Health & wellbeing
2 min

Better acoustics



Designing room acoustics that are well-balanced and adapted to the type of building makes occupants more productive, happier and healthier.

Did you know?


Noise is the 2nd largest environmental cause of health problems


of UK citizens are exposed to noise pollution above recommended levels


How do acoustics affect us?

  • Quality of sound in a building depends on:

    • exterior noise (nearby traffic, neighbors, ...)

    • interior noise (music, phone conversations, ...)

    • impact noise (footsteps)

    • sound vibrations through the structure

    • equipment noise (ventilation systems, electronic equipment, pipes, elevators, ...)

  • Effects of noise on an individual depends on:

    • predictability and familiarity of the sound

    • controllability of the sound

    • personal attitude and sensitivities

    • information on the contents of the sound

    • necessity for the sound

How do bad acoustics affect your health?

  • Potential health effects of prolonged exposure to noise: cardiovascular diseases & elevated blood pressure (for prolonged exposure above 55dB), mental health problems, sleep disturbances (if night noise above 40dB on average)

  • 16,000 premature deaths in Europe each year caused by environmental noise

  • Social cost of noise in France: 156 billion euros per year, 16.9% of which from neighbourhood noise and 13.5% from work-related noise

How does it impact our concentration?

  • In the office: 

    • 66% fall in staff performance as a result of distracting noise

    • Level of "speech privacy" is the leading complaint in offices everywhere

    • 15 minutes are needed to regain concentration after being distracted from a difficult task by unwanted noise

    • 5 distractions over an 8-hour day equals to a 15% reduction in productivity

  • In school: students need to be able to hear their teacher and not be disturbed by other noises

How to design for better acoustics?

  • Better acoustics depend on the acoustic characteristics of the building fabric (acoustic transmission and absorption)

  • In design, need to take into account a variety of external and architectural factors:

    • Types of noise to be managed

    • Spectrum of noise to be managed (low or high frequencies)

    • Construction system and materials

    • Building's activity: sleeping, working, teaching, healthcare, ...

How do we act?

  • Plasterboard linings to reduce airborne noise

  • Insulation solutions to reduce impact noise from above and below

  • Absorbing acoustic ceilings and panels to control room noise

  • Sound insulating glazing