Industry News


Occupant Satisfaction and Productivity Affected by Indoor Noise

Associations seek answers to ambient noise problems

Contributors: James Earl  

As facilities professionals seek to solve the problems of noisy interiors, associations work to provide the answers they need to make educated decisions. When the Washington, D.C.-based American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) produced a research report in 1996 titled Sound Solutions, it quickly became the most requested publication that the association produced.


In 2004, ASID readdressed the topic with updated information and a fresh perspective. Better Sound Solutions: Applying Occupant and Building Performance Measurement and Design to Improve Office Acoustics delivers solid data to information-hungry designers, facilities management professionals, and distracted building occupants who understand first-hand how important office acoustics truly are. This professional paper was produced in conjunction with Orfield Laboratories Inc. and Haworth Inc., written by Steven J. Orfield and Jay L. Brand, and can be downloaded by visiting (www.asid.org/about_asid/products_services/pubs/sound_solutions.pdf).


ASID isn’t the only organization paying attention to the effects of noisy interiors. On March 9, 2005, the Atlanta-based American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) announced the approval of $1.1 million in funding for 11 research projects. Among these projects is Productivity and Perception Based Evaluation of Indoor Noise Criteria, 1322-RP, a study that will uncover information about how noise impacts productivity.


According to Lily Wang, principal investigator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, indoor background noise can dramatically impact occupants by causing annoyance, affecting productivity, hindering speech communication, impacting sleep, and degrading overall occupant comfort and satisfaction. “Because ambient noise is something we continually encounter in our everyday environments, evaluation of that noise is crucial to improve occupant satisfaction,” she explains. The ASHRAE study will focus on identifying an acceptable level of background noise in buildings, much of which can be attributed to mechanical systems.


The research project is expected to be completed over 15 months, and is being sponsored by ASHRAE’s Technical Committee 2.6, Sound and Vibration. For more information on this and other research projects ASHRAE will be undertaking, visit (www.ashrae.org).

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