EIAS 2011 Workshop: Acoustics, sustainability, and green buildings
Sustainability has become an underpinning principle of living. Sustainability does not only relate to the recycling of materials and reduction of emissions but also acoustic quality matters. In this workshop we wanted to highlight sustainability, especially about acoustics, and what role acoustics can play connected to green building certifications or ratings.
Presenters were René Gamba, Peter Rogers, Carsten Svensson and Jonas Skeppås.
Workshop: Acoustics, sustainability, and green buildings
Moderator – Peter Rogers
Co-moderator – Carsten Svensson
René Gamba, GAMBA Acoustique et Associés, France
Acoustic comfort: A unique indicator of the quality of sound climate
In France, “HQE” proposes a methodology to design, build and exploit healthy and comfortable “green” buildings. To be certified “HQE” you have to match 14 targets, one of these is exclusively about acoustics, and acoustics meets also several other targets.
More than 3 targets have to be upper a very good level (and energy is one of these targets), more than 4 targets have to be above than a good level, and the other need to reach a basic level.
For each target (energy, waste, water, acoustics, etc) it is natural to try to express the performance, or the quality, using unique indicators easy to read and understand. That is why the “GIAc” works to the definition of a unique indicator of acoustic comfort in a place. The objective is to be able to post a label at the entrance of the building, with green arrows (it is very good), yellow (it is just good) orange (it is inferior), red (it is bad), or purple (The building is unfit for its destination, it is unhealthy), as we make it for refrigerators, or for energy efficiency of buildings.
This acoustic indicator will have to take into account the various parameters of acoustic comfort (reverberation, noises of equipment, impacts noise level, sound insulation), by integrating into particular the balance between them.
Peter Rogers, Cole Jarman, UK
How can a green building be truly sustainable without it having sustainable acoustics?
This talk will aim to answer this question and probably create a whole lot more. It will expand on the plenary session presentation to explore in more depth why Green Buildings demand a fresh approach by acousticians, and what that could be. Have we been deafened by the noise and unable to appreciate the need for positive sound? This is likely to provide plenty of scope for debate on this topic, to reveal a route map for what constitutes good acoustic design in the greener buildings of the future, and how acousticians need to take responsibility and proactively expand their influence to get the message across as each opportunity presents itself.
More time will be spent providing examples, tools, and the ideal approach for various types of buildings, with one high-profile office example being focused on as a case study. This is the WWF-UK HQ – Living Planet Centre, Woking, UK which aims to be a flagship green building.
Areas, where further research and opportunities for development are needed, will also be mentioned before opening the floor to the workshop and further debate.
Carsten Svensson, Saint-Gobain Ecophon. EIAS 2011 Sweden
Accessibility, acoustics, and sustainability
A “society for all” has been on the agenda in several countries over the last few years – and still is! In line with this, buildings have to be accessible and usable for people also with disabilities such as limited orientation capacity. An important principle is that all people have equal rights and are of equal value. It is a principle of, for instance, the Swedish building legislation that all new buildings and those which are renovated should be fully accessible for disabled people. Since 2001 it has also been required in Sweden that easily eliminated obstacles to accessibility and usability should have been remedied before the end of 2010.
To give all people equal rights to participate in society, the built environment must be made accessible and usable also for people with disabilities. Moreover, what is good for disabled people is most likely also good for everyone else.
In terms of accessibility and usability, acoustics relates more to the concept of usability.
Usability means that people can take part in the environment and use it. Acoustics is primarily related to persons with limited orientation capacity, and a good acoustic environment, in this sense, primarily benefits persons with impaired vision and hearing, persons with cognitive difficulties, and the elderly.
This presentation highlights who benefits particularly from good acoustics and how acoustics can be applied in practice regarding accessibility and usability. Good acoustics is one parameter contributing to a sustainable world and acoustics certainly must be a natural part of sustainable design. Our hearing and aural sense directly affect our safety, communication, social health, and well-being, thus our quality of life. Knowledge of acoustics and practical implications in the built environment affects the progress toward a sustainable future.
Jonas Skeppås, Saint-Gobain Ecophon, EIAS 2011 Sweden
TABS (Thermally activated building systems)
“A trend today in modern buildings is to use the ceiling as a cooling surface, to use thermally activated building systems (TABS). An advantage of this solution is the increased possibility to use sources for cooling such as ground or sea water since the large ceiling area can operate at a relatively high cooling temperature. The ceiling can also store the cold air that is available during the night and the risk for drought and discomfort will also be reduced compared to traditional cooling with cool air.
A challenge arises when this system is combined with a requirement for good acoustics. The traditional solution – an overall, class A acoustic ceiling – does not work, as the cooling effect from the concrete is shielded by the ceiling. One solution is to use free-hanging units, which improve the acoustics in addition to allowing effective cooling. Ecophon has performed tests based on the European standard EN 14240:2004 to evaluate how the cooling effect is influenced by free-hanging units. This test has been combined with similar test reports from other parties in a general graph. The results indicate that much of the cooling is produced by natural convection and that it is important not to impede the air movement around the ceiling units.”