CONTROLLING NOISE IN OFFICE SPACES
Controlling noise in offices spaces is vital for privacy and productivity and involves several inherent issues:
Because an office space has a lot of reflective hard surfaces such as drywall, tile, glass, desks, and counter tops, the space can become too reverberant making it hard to understand normal levels of speech. The addition of absorptive products such as prefabricated fabric wrapped acoustic panels, or custom acoustic stretched fabric systems, will absorb the sound waves as opposed to them being reflected back into the space.
The trend towards open office spaces allow for better collaboration but presents speech privacy problems. If a co-worker can hear and discern conversations going on around him or her, they become distracted and unproductive. It also makes it difficult to protect sensitive private data from being overheard.
The solution is to install a quality sound masking system. Sound masking works by producing a unique, digital broadband sound spectrum complimentary to the speech spectrum, that effectively covers speech levels. Sound masking is typically installed in the ceiling plenum gently filtering down into the space below, covering noise and conversation in open areas and improving privacy in enclosed offices.
Office spaces can sometimes be plagued by noise sources such as mechanical rooms, rooftop HVAC systems, or outside traffic noise.These issues need to be treated at the source. Rooms containing noisy mechanical equipment such as elevator systems need to have sufficient mass in the walls and ceilings to effectively block noise. Cinder block walls are a great noise blocker, and products such as mass loaded vinyl barrier and resilient isolation clips can be added to standard drywall partitions to add mass and decouple the walls and ceilings, thus preventing noise transference. Pumps and compressors need to be installed with vibration isolators and the connecting conduit and piping need to be hung with acoustic pipe hangers. HVAC equipment such as cooling towers must be mounted on properly rated vibration isolators to prevent sound from transferring through the building structure into the occupied spaces below.