« go back

Why acoustics is an essential part of indoor environmental quality

Service noise, exterior noise, reverb time and acoustic separation are all important factors of a good acoustic climate. These factors, among others, are normally regulated through mandatory building regulations and are essential for a good indoor environment and our well-being.

Acoustics and Indoor Environmental Quality
Acoustics is a cornerstone within the concept of IEQ, Indoor Environmental Quality. Since the 1950s, when the first regulated acoustic requirements came for new construction of homes, the requirements have been tightened, detailed and refined to the acoustics requirements we see today. Nowadays, in most countries, there are acoustic requirements for both commercial and residential buildings.

Setting basic acoustic requirements, and constantly refining and working with these requirements, is important for the well-being and human health. Not only does it help to achieve basic health aspects it also creates buildings where people can enjoy the indoor environment, which means that people can, for example, be more efficient in their work, focused on their education or just enjoy a good night sleep.

In Western Europe, about 80 million people work in an office environment and about 90 million children or young people who spend their days in a school environment. Having a good indoor climate is essential to be able to focus on the tasks and feel good inside.

Acoustic climate

Acoustics is a broad concept that most people relate to as the sound characteristics of a room. Qualitative acoustic climate is about creating a positive sound experience depending on the purpose of the room or the building. For example, a lecture hall differs from an office or a concert hall in how you should work with acoustics to support the usage of the premises in the best way.

In that sense it is not only about low sound levels, however a common basic prerequisite for a good acoustic environment, for all types of indoor environments, is to attenuate unwanted noise from the building's installations as well as disturbing noise coming from the outside. If the unwanted noise is too loud, it obviously contributes to a poor acoustic climate.

An interesting contradiction to consider when attenuating outside noise and other unwanted background noise is that other sounds appear clearer and can in themselves be disturbing. For example, today we build very well-insulated buildings which eliminates the background noise from traffic and the outdoor environment, which affects our perception of the sounds inside the building differently. The inside sound is perceived strengthened and it becomes even more important to monitor the sound level of the indoor installations that can create unwanted noise.

Building certifications and Acoustics

As an acoustic baseline, building regulations must be met when designing indoor environments. On top of that, many countries have national schemes with quality classes aiming of simplifying the specification of stricter requirements. These were introduced in the mid-1990s and should be seen as a proof of quality regarding the building's acoustics climate where you can rate your building ex A, B or C class.

In the last 20 years, there has also been an increase of green building certifications and interest in IEQ. For example, BREEAM, LEED & WELL. The certifications themselves are focused on reducing a building's environmental impact and increasing the comfort of those using the building.

Some certifications are more focused on environmental impact and some have human well-being as their profile. Roughly speaking, the certifications that focus on human well-being have a higher value of introducing stricter acoustic measures. An article worth reading where a comparison between environmental certifications with a focus on acoustics has been made. 

Our perception of sound

Our perception of sound is a highly subjective assessment, creating an acoustic climate that suits everyone is a difficult task. Following one of the stricter requirements in a national scheme or a green building rating will help us reach acoustical satisfaction from the top majority of the occupants.

As acoustics is one of the factors by which occupants rate the quality of a building it is an area of great importance. Not only the rating of the building itself. An satisfying acoustical environment would mean improved possibilities to focus, be productive and healthy.

Acoustics is a cornerstone within IEQ and by that it continuously will be monitored and refined to support buildings achieving a great acoustic climate. You can learn about acoustic and sound level here.

New acoustic software will soon be released

As a leader in ventilation and indoor climate, Swegon carries a great responsibility contributing to a positive acoustic climate. Ventilation itself is an acoustic universe from air handling units to the room products. Acoustics is absolutely central in the development of our products to meet all operational requirements with minimal sound impact. In addition, we continuously work to ensure that our product data is easily accessible for sound calculations.

In early 2022 Swegon will release a new acoustic software that will support all calculations of acoustics in ventilation systems, from sound source to the room. Keep an eye out for this new software that will help you create the best acoustic climate!