Knowledge

Together at last: acoustic comfort and sustainable design

Last month, the Canadian Acoustical Association hosted the Acoustics Week in Canada conference in Guelph, Ontario. This is the fourth in a short series of blog posts highlighting some of the research and insights shared by the acousticians and engineers.   

In the early days of green building standards, facilities that renovated to improve their environmental performance often wound up inadvertently compromising on other qualities such as acoustic and thermal comfort.

Acoustics eventually emerged as the single biggest source of occupant complaints in LEED and other green buildings. Part of the explanation was that effective acoustic materials like wall panels were often made of materials that didn’t win favour with green standards. Another issue was that some passive design strategies that do earn points in green building systems, like natural ventilation and larger areas of interior glazing for daylighting, reduce sound insulation.

Green building rating systems have responded to this problem, adapting their standards to bring sustainability and acoustic comfort targets into better alignment. At Acoustics Week in Canada, RWDI acoustical engineer Jessie Roy presented a paper on the latest acoustic prerequisites and performance targets of three major green standards: LEED, WELL and Green Globes. Her presentation offered timely guidance on the most important considerations for designers seeking to craft environments – in a variety of building types – that deliver green performance and acoustic comfort simultaneously.