The newsLINK Group - Solving Acoustical Problems

Editorial Library Category: Multi-Family & Property Management Topics: Acoustical Problems Title: Solving Acoustical Problems Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Why do acoustics matter to people? They care about it because they don’t want to spend their nights listening to their neighbors or to heavy road traffic. But acoustics in high-density areas are harder to control than they are in, say, a suburb where the houses have more distance from each other and the traffic is lighter except during the morning and evening commutes. Editorial: Solving Acoustical Problems 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 The multifamily market is changing. Some of it has to do with market forces. People want better, greener homes, even if they are renting instead of buying. Building codes have become increasingly strict. Sometimes people take legal action against architects and developers over issues such as mold (the number one complaint) and poor acoustics (the number two complaint). Other factors also contribute to the changes experts are seeing: Cities are actively looking to increase the use of sustainable design. That means an increased number of imperatives from those who are responsible for urban planning, and a greater emphasis on acoustics that links it to green design. For example, the U.S. Green Building Council has a LEED™ for Homes program that has a credit for “Acoustic Comfort.” The credit can be found in the Innovative Design category, and it is granted when someone successfully takes a room that is considered to be “acoustically sensitive” and makes it quiet. Residential density in urban areas is increasing. Density increases in two ways. First, the number of people in a particular geographical area, like a city, can increase because of the jobs and cultural advantages it offers. Second, more people are working at home, which means that when the business day comes to an end, more people are already home and the city’s population stays more constant than it would be in a city where a majority of the people go home every evening to somewhere else. Why do acoustics matter to people? They care about it because they don’t want to spend their nights listening to their neighbors or to heavy road traffic. But acoustics in high- density areas are harder to control than they are in, say, a suburb where the houses have more distance from each other and the traffic is lighter except during the morning and evening commutes. As a result, those who design and build multifamily homes have a problem. Solving it requires preventing two kinds of sound transmission: Airborne sound from music or people’s voices. Impact sounds that cause vibrations. This can be caused by other people walking around, sounds from appliances such as washing machines as they are being operated, and furniture moving, such as when someone moves a chair back from a table. Most building codes rate how quiet a building is by using two ratings systems, one for airborne sound (its sound transmission class, or STC) and one for impact sound (its impact insulation class, or IIC). The higher the rating numbers are, the quieter the building is. Partitions are walls, ceilings, floors, and doors. If a partition has an STC rating of 35, then it’s possible to hear someone who is talking normally through the partition. At 50, it would be possible to know that someone is talking, but not be able to understand the words. At 60 or higher, someone who is listening would probably not hear anything at all through the partition. Building codes use the IIC to rate floors and ceilings. Again, a higher number means a quieter partition. Anything rated 50 or more is considered to be acceptable. Most multifamily construction projects today have to meet the acoustic requirements outlined in section 1207 of the International Building Code. Partitions tested in a lab setting have to meet minimum STC and IIC ratings of 50. If the partitions are tested in the field, then the minimum rating is 45.

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