Understanding the Weakest Points of a Building's Acoustics

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Understanding the Weakest Points of a Building's Acoustics

28 November 2016
 Categories: Environmental, Blog

If your office building has very poor acoustics, meaning that sound seems to bounce around and echo, this can be very distracting to your workers. Trying to concentrate on a phone call or project can be difficult if they can hear every noise around them, while it can also be difficult to focus on a speaker in a conference room if noise is bouncing around the room. Echoing sound can also mean difficultly keeping confidential conversations quiet. An acoustics engineer can note the troublesome spots in any building, but consider some common weak areas that may need improvement in order to make your office more comfortable.

1. Windows

You may not think that windows contribute to poor acoustics if the outside area of your building isn't particularly noisy, but thin and poor-quality glass can simply bounce sound waves around a room, whereas thick glass can absorb that sound and contribute to a quiet environment. Double-paned or double-glazed windows will usually have a type of gas between them that also helps to absorb sound. If your office has very large windows and you notice that the echo in the space gets louder at the outer corners of the office, your window's glass may need an upgrade.

2. Plumbing pipes

As with windows, you may not think of plumbing pipes when you think of sound absorption, but consider that when plumbing pipes are empty of any running water, they can easily bounce sound off of them or carry sound waves from one spot to another. The area around your building's plumbing pipes is also usually just "dead space" that can bounce sound waves around. Adding insulation around your office's plumbing pipes can help to insulate the office against noise pollution and may also help keep your hot water hotter, saving you money on utility bills as well.

3. Wood floors

Wood floors tend to echo sound more so than concrete and they're very popular in gymnasiums; if you have an office in front of a recreation centre or school, those floors could be adding to poor sound insulation in your space. However, many offices also have wood floorboards covered by cheap and thin carpeting that does very little to absorb sound waves. For a school or other facility with a gymnasium, you may need to add insulation to the walls around the space; when you have wood floors in an office, upgrading to carpeting and padding that is meant to absorb sound as well as sound-absorbing panels in the ceiling and office partitions can help quiet the space.

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