Focus on Acoustics: An Update on the Design Impact of Acoustical Standards

At Thorburn Associates we keep an eye on many rating systems and standards that affect our work as acoustical consultants. These rating systems and standards are a way to help ensure that buildings will work for their intended purpose. The end of the year is a good time to assess where things stand and what to look for next year.

LEED 2012 As part of its continuous improvement cycle, LEED 2012 expands on changes made in the LEED 2009 rating system. Major updates focus on improving usability, enhancing the technical rigor of the rating systems and adapting the rating system for a wider variety of market sectors.

It includes a credit for Enhanced Acoustics for all types of New Construction. The criteria vary based on the building type: the Enhanced Acoustics credit requirements for Schools are largely the same as in LEED 2009; the major updates come in providing 1 to 2 points for addressing background noise levels and privacy concerns in the other types of New Construction. This may allow your project to earn an additional point for making small improvements to your existing standard design practices. The second of three public comment periods has recently closed, and current plans are to start using the newest rating system in mid-to late 2012.

In Progress While LEED may be making the most dramatic changes for next year, there are a couple of other standards involving acoustics that are making news for the work that is still ahead: This fall the Classroom Acoustics Standard ANSI/ASA S12.60 was included in federal school modernization legislation. These efforts, however, are unlikely to move forward until the current election cycle is over next fall. The 2012 International Green Construction Code will be available in spring 2012. This code is adopted as the basis for the local building code in many parts of the country and around the world. As a result of public comments requesting revision, the inclusion of the acoustics-related requirements has been delayed until the next revision.