Techniques for minimizing noise pollution
Noise is an important parameter for the comfort of building occupants, and it also has a direct impact on their health. It is therefore important to be able to control potential noise pollution in order to improve their comfort.
How can we control noise?
Acoustic insulation is based on three main principles: mass law, mass-spring-mass law, and sealing law. The first can be translated as "the heavier it is, the better it insulates". Indeed, for a single wall of equal thickness, a concrete partition will insulate better than a plasterboard partition. The second law can be applied in the case of a double wall or a partition composed of two materials. This makes it possible to limit the thickness and weight of the structure. In addition, two single walls separated by an air gap or a soft insulator will insulate better than a single wall of equivalent thickness. Finally, the third law plays a crucial role: as sound travels through air vibrations, good air tightness (wall joints, window joints, etc.) will significantly reduce the propagation of noise.
In the first instance, the first optimization would be to increase the thickness of the envelope or to create a double wall, thus allowing control over noise. In the design of the wall, optimizing the placement of studs can improve noise reduction. Similarly, the importance of a high-performance thermo-acoustic insulator can greatly improve the ability of walls and roofs to absorb sound. The major difference between acoustic and thermal insulation lies in the type of materials used. For acoustic performance, it is preferable to use flexible materials because rigid thermal insulators may be less effective.
The role of openings
Openings can play an important role in acoustic insulation. In case of double glazing the thickness of the air gap is important. Similarly, to improve the acoustic performance of windows, other factors can be taken into account, such as the thickness of the window or the size of the windows. Improving the sealing joints or placing these boxes entirely outside the facade can allow for better acoustic performance.
To minimize the impact of external noise, several solutions are available. The first solution would be the use of acoustic panels, particularly to absorb noise related to traffic. Similarly, vegetated facades and roofs can also reduce external noise pollution. The greening of walls and roofs creates an additional layer of insulation, reduces sound reflection and allows for the absorption of some of the external noise. Finally, the design of embankments, retaining walls or hedges can also help reduce noise by creating a natural barrier between the building and external noise sources.
LEED recognises projects which implement strategies to reduce the transmission of exterior and interior noise in the indoor living spaces of buildings. The Acoustics performance credit required that materials have undergone acoustic measurements and achieved a minimum acoustic performance level based on the types of rooms. To learn more about LEED requirements, check out our LEED Blog.
In conclusion, it is crucial to minimize noise pollution in buildings to improve the comfort and health of the occupants. Various techniques can be used to achieve this, such as acoustic insulation, envelope insulation, the role of openings, and outdoor landscaping. Applying these techniques can help reduce noise pollution, but it is also important to integrate them during the building's design phase to achieve optimal results. Ultimately, reducing noise pollution is a crucial step in creating a healthy and comfortable living environment for building occupants.