Construction Specifier Article
An article entitled “The ABCs of Green Acoustics” by Niklas Moeller, vice-president of K.R. Moeller Associates Ltd., will be published in the March 2012 issue of Construction Specifier magazine.
Here’s an excerpt:
Sustainable design is a road that has largely been paved by the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. However, the lack of attention historically paid to acoustics has been detrimental to the overall performance of sustainable spaces.
Research on acoustics and green buildings supports this point. In fact, post-occupancy evaluations conducted by the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at the University of California, Berkeley reveal green building acoustics are typically worse than their traditional counterparts. Occupants are dissatisfied with being able to hear people talking in open areas, in workstations, and on the telephone, as well as with their own level of speech privacy. Ringing telephones, mechanical equipment, traffic noise, and people talking in corridors are further sources of distraction. Over half of respondents feel noise inhibits their work.
Open plans are by far the worst performing, particularly those employing open benching or desking rather than the now ‘traditional’ workstations. Yet, these are also the environments in which most green building occupants work. Although the trend is to emphasize the workplace’s positive impact on communication and collaboration, most employees still spend at least 60 to 70 percent of their time on individual work requiring concentration. Their environment should support these efforts by providing freedom from distracting noises. Most employees spend a further 20 percent of their time on the telephone or in conversation within their workspace, so the environment should offer some level of speech privacy as well, and enable them to perform tasks without disrupting others.
The well-recognized benefits of improving the auditory environment not only include increased productivity, but also reduced error rates, stronger morale, and decreased absenteeism.
Addressing acoustical issues
USGBC has attempted to address the acoustical deficiencies of green buildings, first by providing specific credits in LEED programs for schools and healthcare and, in November 2010, by introducing LEED Pilot Credit 24, Acoustics, which is available for testing in New Construction (NC) and Commercial Interiors (CI).
Having acoustic credits helps draw attention to this vital aspect of indoor environmental quality (IEQ). However, it is also important to have a solid understanding of the elements involved in creating an effective acoustical environment and why many of the typical strategies used to improve airflow, temperature regulation, energy conservation, and daylighting in green buildings tend to lower acoustical performance...
Interested in reading more? Please contact us for the full article or look for it in the March 2012 issue of Construction Specifier magazine.