Health & wellbeing
2 min

Better acoustics

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

Did you know?

#2

Noise is the 2nd largest environmental cause of health problems

54%

of UK citizens are exposed to noise pollution above recommended levels

FAQ

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