Designing Environments for Sound Control

Stan Gatland

Traffic, door slams, vacuums, toilet flushes, TV’s – these are just some of the everyday noises that can affect your comfort.

Acoustical comfort, created through effective sound control, should be considered in all buildings. Many practical and economical solutions to sound-related problems are currently available to architects, engineers, contractors and building, and home owners.

Most noise control situations can be managed whether it’s from airborne sounds – sound that is directly transmitted from a source into the air like outside traffic, music or voices,- or structureborne sound – sound that travels through solid materials like footsteps, door slams, or plumbing vibrations.

There are four goals to providing a superior acoustic environment:

  • Reduce sound reverberation time (echo factor)
  • Limit airborne noise (sound transmission from space to space)
  • Reduce impact noise
  • Minimize background noise

The reduction of sound reverberation time is accomplished by employing sound-absorbing surfaces, such as fabrics, carpeting and acoustical ceilings. The best plan is to configure those spaces to reduce, rather than amplify the sound energy.

When limiting airborne noise, one important consideration is to design high sound transmission class (STC) assemblies. STC is a laboratory measurement used to study the resistance of a wall, ceiling, or floor to the passage of sound. The higher the STC number, the more the sound is deadened. Also, try to enclose or separate spaces with group activities that may create chatter from common areas, using acoustically efficient walls.

To reduce the transmission of impact noise, you can design high-impact insulation class (IIC) assemblies. Isolate finished floors and ceilings by installing resilient underlayments, by using sound-absorptive floor coverings and by using resilient ceiling suspension systems that include sound-absorbing cavity insulation.

Design your HVAC systems to absorb energy and reduce background noise so airborne noise isn’t transmitted through the ductwork. Mechanical equipment should be isolated using vibration dampening techniques and high sound transmission reduction enclosures.

Creating a quiet environment makes for happier homes and offices.

Stan Gatland is Manager of Building Science Technology for CertainTeed Corporation

Green at work—At Greenbuild

Copy of Michael low res picWow, thanks for your very insightful thoughts regarding the promotion of green these days.  It seems, as we suspected, that overdone Green promotion does in fact ruin it for those who are trying to be responsible in their portrayal of green and sustainable products.

We’re headed for what I believe may be the one trade show that matters to people this year—Greenbuild, being held in Phoenix in November.  I don’t know whether it’s the promise of a keynote speech from Al Gore, the Sheryl Crow concert or the beautiful weather, but if my fruitless hotel search is any indication, it’s going to be well-attended.

Greenbuild will be a perfect time to gauge “greenspeak” among building products manufacturers. Again, it’s not about talking green; it’s about how responsibly we do so.  As I mentioned in my post the other day, I’m hearing from the architect community that we need to start integrating green into our everyday actions…by example and through the promotion of our products.

You’ll find us at booth #921 with a very different approach than in recent years.  We used to have a big chart outlining all of the LEED Credits you can potentially earn using our products.  Last year, you seemed much more interested in seeing actual product.  So, this year, we’re bringing the walls to you.  We affectionately call it the “tunnel of love,” but what we’ve got is a design that shows complete wall and roofing systems, from inside out, addressing the major sustainable issues of moisture management, sound control, energy efficiency, and recycled content.  A bit of a departure for us, but we’re excited.  Our favorite blogger, Lucas Hamilton will also be there with his tremendous knowledge of building science.

We’re also very excited to be hosting a luncheon featuring our friend Dennis Wilde from Gerding Edlen Development who will be talking about taking existing buildings and doing a comprehensive retrofit to improve energy efficiency, water and waste management and human comfort.  This is amazing since it’s easier to shoot for these things when building a new building vs. accepting someone else’s mistakes as your starting point—cutting edge stuff from a company we’re proud to be partnering with.

There are limited slots available for this luncheon.  If you would like to attend, get back to me at this address to be included in a drawing for one of these coveted tickets.  Keep the feedback coming!

 Mike Loughery is Director, Corporate Marketing Communications at CertainTeed Corporation.