Acoustic comfort is realized when a person’s activity is not disturbed by noise and their hearing does not suffer. The opposite occurs when exposure to noise causes psychological disorder, hinders performing normal activities and reduces the ability to concentrate.

The Importance of Optimizing Acoustics

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Continual exposure to noise can cause stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease and many other health problems. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the US; almost twice as many people report hearing loss as report diabetes or cancer.”

There are many sources of noise throughout a building and around a site, from the continual background noise of an HVAC system to walking and talking among building occupants. Outside noises such as emergency vehicles and traffic can also have a significant impact on acoustics, and, of course, higher density equates to more noise. Such noise can travel around and through ceiling, deck and floor joists, as well as windows and doors. Sound can also travel through fixtures and fittings, such as electrical outlets and recessed light fixtures, as well as perimeter joints and wall partitions.

Learning Objectives

  1. Examine factors affecting acoustic performance and review building types where optimal acoustics are important for occupant comfort.
  2. Understand acoustical codes and standards and how acoustics are incorporated into green rating systems, including LEED v4 and the California Green Building Standards Code.
  3. Identify how wood building systems can help meet acoustic requirements for optimal indoor environmental quality.
  4. Review two case studies where integrating acoustic design, as well as numerous other sustainable features, was a high priority.
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