The world is in crisis, there are no excuses. We need to act, and we need to act fast!
Global warming is having a massive impact upon the world and its resources. We need to ask ourselves what we can do to help sustain the earths future and lower our carbon footprint for future generations.
The government are setting guidelines in place for all the population to take note of, this has drawn a lot of attention in the construction world in particular, and where we can make the most impact in helping the environment.
This hot topic has been the source of many conversations between Government, Consultants and Acousticians alike in where we can not only lower our carbon footprint but also provide pioneering engineering solutions to innovate new productive ways we can help tackle this issue.
What Studies have shown:
The first breakthrough came when the ‘Association of Noise Consultants’ published their work on the ‘Acoustics , Ventilation and Overheating Guide’. This Guide marks a significant step forwards in the assessment of internal environmental conditions in residential developments, and hence invites the industry to step up to the design challenge.
The AVO Guide enables and encourages developers to design new dwellings in a way that considers the effects of both thermal comfort and acoustic comfort at the same time. Traditionally, these issues have been considered separately, so that occupants of new dwellings that are exposed to high levels of environmental noise are forced to choose between comfortable temperatures with the windows open, or comfortable and safe noise levels with the windows closed.
We have known for some time that we need sustainable, resilient dwellings that are comfortable for the occupants. We know that people like simple controls over their environment; the act of opening a window or vent is intuitive to meet a need for ventilative cooling and for air movement to increase the cooling effect. There is a clear conflict between the benefits of opening windows, and the risks associated with excessive noise. A fragmented design approach results in residential accommodation that may be uncomfortable to occupants, and hence may be considered unsustainable.
Residual risks for stakeholders include:
• Health & wellbeing risks for occupants
• Design risks for consultants; and
• Legal risks for developers
Historically, external noise considerations and facade sound insulation have been deliberately excluded from Building Regulations, as they are site-specific issues. The Planning system is therefore currently seen as the regulatory regime with the best opportunity to require concurrent consideration of noise and thermal comfort, even though these issues would seem to sit within the remit of Building Regulations. In the past there have only been occasional Planning requirements to consider the indoor noise and mitigation of overheating in an integrated, holistic manner. With the previous lack of appropriate design criteria and little explanation of the issues in the complex and inter-related fields, it has been difficult for Planners and Environmental Health practitioners to specify suitable requirements. Apex Acoustics has demonstrated that in 85% of planning applications, the acoustic designers assumed that windows were closed to provide acceptable acoustic conditions, while the mechanical designers assumed windows were open to provide acceptable thermal conditions
This ground-breaking guide proposes allowing tolerances over the annual average internal noise level limits that are normally applied to new dwellings, for the reduced portion of the year when opening windows may be required to mitigate overheating. It suggests a balanced approach, such that if the overheating risk is lower – with less reliance on opening windows, for less frequent periods – then it is suggested that occupants may accept slightly higher noise levels. If there is a high reliance on opening windows, such that they are required for a greater proportion of the year, then a lower noise level limit would be more appropriate. The identification of design criteria enables the industry to respond by developing the most advantageous solutions In many locations where new residential development is desirable opening windows permit excessive external noise ingress, and attenuated vents may be a more appropriate solution. The guide provides a framework for assessment and separate criteria to associate with both ventilation and provision of thermal comfort. External noise is treated separately from internal (building services) sources of noise because people respond to these different noise sources in different ways.
This concept has been encouraged also in the works of CIBSE: ‘TM59 : Design Methodology for the Assessment of Overheating risk in homes.’ This paper highlighted how many new and refurbished homes have designs that contribute to overheating risk by having high proportions of glazing (resulting in excessive solar heat gains) inadequate ventilation strategies or mechanical ventilation systems that are not delivering the intended air rate changes.
Many factors influence overheating in homes, including the intensity of heat gains, occupancy patterns, orientation, dwelling layout, shading strategy and ventilation method. TM59 has proven that dynamic thermal modelling can be used to simulate the internal temperature conditions and will therefore help establish whether threshold conditions of discomfort will be reached. Given the complexity of the factors influencing overheating it is important that a standardised methodology is used to assess risk and hence the need for this technical memorandum. It can be applied to dwellings, care homes and student residences. Early analysis of overheating risk is recommended so that mitigation strategies can be reviewed in design proposals.
Global warming is meaning we are seeing he highest temps UK has ever seen, health and being impact on residents includes anxiety, stress and sleep deprivation.
TM59 aims to address this and the way buildings respond to external temperatures and present a standard methodology to assess overheating risk.
Part L in the building regulations is the direct outcome of the Government white paper which shows their commitment to raising energy performance of buildings by limiting heat losses and excessive solar gains and ensuring that energy sufficient fixing building services are installed. The launch of this white paper shows the concerns that the government have and setting regulations in place to try and tackle this issue. It concerns itself with construction projects that are now, or are resulting in a change of use. It sets the standards for the energy performance and carbon emissions of the new and existing buildings. The aim of this is for more people in the construction industry to take note of this and to take this into consideration prior to design. By regulating this and setting proper guidance it will set a precedence for all future building planning.
The hope is that this can be built upon and with more research taking place each day we can really try and make a real difference to future planning works.
What can we do
TEKs main core value of being attentive is based around the Natural Ventilation products we design, not only from our business perspective but also from a personal aspect. The company has grown the way it has due to the personal approach we take on our designs. Our ethos is built on wanting to build the best products that can achieve the best for the environment. It was only natural, therefore, that our evolution took us to this issue and we were lucky enough to have been a part of the initial talks with the ANC regarding the issues in how we can tackle this issue but still keep the environment at the centre and limit the impact we have upon it.
TEK have been enthralled by the development of these issues and we asked ourselves how we can help, how can we use our natural ventilation expertise to assist and is where our residential range was created. Sure, we can develop a product that can assist in overheating but at what cost to the environment? With our range this is also factored in, creating a product that not only provides natural ventilation but also limits overheating and offers noise control, all whilst running on minimal running costs.
We rose to the challenge and developed our range even further so they can be used in different concepts and building spaces. They can be altered to suit different building facades, orientations, elevations where acoustic properties differ, and each unit is bespoke fit to their particular needs.
We have also developed the range meaning they are also suitable to be retrofitted into existing spaces meaning redevelopments can also benefit, utilising the empty building spaces which design concept is changing.
We have a growing library of test data; each unit is independent tested and verified giving us peace of mind of results we can achieve.
We have a high number of case studies where our units have been used and are being successful in their role.
We love to innovate and will not stop here, we are forever looking into research and development and seeing how we can create new and alternative ways to assist in this crisis all whist having the environment at the forefront of our mind, to us this is not just a business opportunity this is a way to make a huge difference to the world and we are excited to a part of it and be the market leaders in this innovation.
Don’t just take our word for it…
“TEK, with their new range of products to enable natural ventilation in noisier environments, are demonstrating their position at the forefront of meeting this new design challenge….
We look forward to developing the most advantageous solutions for future residents, so that people can enjoy thermal comfort within their homes without being subject to harmful and annoying levels of noise. TEK’s new range of products offers a designers a real opportunity to achieve comfortable conditions for residents within sustainable, resilient buildings.”
Jack Harvie-Clark, Apex Acoustics Ltd.