Status of the IgCC International Green Construction Code – Acoustics

September 20th, 2011

As we have reported before, the proposed new acoustics section of the IgCC had many challenges/problems in spring 2010.  Several ASA members and others tried to provide comments to change the course.  Few were accepted.  Apparently what as needed was a recommendation endorsed by the acoustics community to assist the ICC committee in what to do.  The ASA architectural acoustics technical committee voted to allow Noral Stewart (principal of our firm, PhD, FASA, FASTM, INCE) to make a good faith effort to influence the code writing process and to speak with the full backing of this committee, receiving help from all interested and available experts in AA… Some 20 others worked with him to read the drafts, debate strengths/weaknesses, develop solutions, and attend necessary meetings to influence the discussion and process at ICC positively.  The Technical Committee on Noise, the ASA Technical Council and Executive Council similarly voted to support this effort and vest Noral with the ability to speak with the authority of the ASA.  Noral Stewart subsequently obtained similar endorsements from National Council of Acoustical Consultants and American Society for Testing and Materials.  Noral ultimately volunteered several 100 hours of his expertise (and counting!) to help shape the code.  We are all appreciative of his efforts. It is certain that the acoustical ramifications of the revised code have been improved significantly in direction.

The first printing of the IgCC Final agenda which is addressing these code changes is available Here.  It is a very large file, recommend saving to your computer.  Work is underway to significantly improve it so it is more logical in presentation.  Pages 1082-1117 (as printed on page…) revolve around the acoustics.  Final Action Hearings are scheduled for October 31st.  Stay tuned.

INCE – Institute of Noise Control Engineering.  ASA – Acoustical Society of America.  NCAC – National Council of Acoustical Consultants. ASTM – really now ASTM International, formerly American Society for Testing and Materials.

(sources include phrases from technical committee on Architectural acoustics report to ASA, Noral Stewart, and myself)

American Academy of Audiology releases classroom acoustics position statement

September 20th, 2011

Click here for position statement

Basics of statement:  In support the classroom acoustics standard (ANSI S12.60-2010)

Mechanical Systems Noise does impact reading comprehension

September 20th, 2011

Recent research shows benefits of lower HVAC noise levels in schools (in terms reading comprehension performance).  A good overview article is shown below:

Classroom mechanical systems should be designed with lower noise levels to optimize student reading comprehension. by Lauren M. Ronsse, PhD, and Lily M. Wang, PhD, PE, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Click here for this article.

Underlying study (more detailed) based on work published in ASHRAE Transactions, Vol 116, Part 2, 2010, and available for viewing at link below:

AB-10-C037: Effects of noise from building mechanical systems on elementary school student achievement

Among other things, it reveals that for a normal school population, background HVAC noise is a signicant factor.  41 dBA or lower levels would be needed for 4th grade typical classrooms (not trying to help those with mild hearing loss or 2nd language challenges) to achieve 76% of students being proficient (stated goal for Iowa).  Lower levels for 2nd grade, and not reported but a potential conclusion is that levels lower than 41 dBA would also be required if preparing a classroom for use by those with learning disabilities, mild hearing loss, 2nd language challenges, etc.

Notably math does not draw a similar conclusion.  Hats off to the great work done by Wang and Ronsse.

LEED 2012 open for comment – major changes to acoustics

August 5th, 2011

Comments due by 9/14/11.

Draft available here:

Acoustics portions available here: LEED BD+C 2012 draft – clean-edited

Noise levels lowered for prereq and credit for LEED for Schools.  Some isolation moved back to prereq. More specific RT requirements for spaces over 20K.  Credit more available to other rating schemes/spaces.



LEED for Healthcare open for 3rd public comment until 9/5/10

August 19th, 2010
“USGBC invites the public to comment on the revisions to the LEED 2009 for Healthcare New Construction & Major Renovation Rating System draft through a 20 day 3rd Public Comment Period.  Revisions were made by the LEED for Healthcare Core Committee as a result of the comments received during the 2nd public comment period. The resulting draft can now be reviewed and commented on by the public. Credits that have not been revised since the 2nd public comment period are not available for comment.”Any member of the public may comment on the proposed changes…  If further substantive changes are made as a result of comments received, an additional public comment period will be conducted on those changes…. The final draft will then be sent to the USGBC member consensus body for ballot.

The third public comment period will be open for 20 days, from Tuesday, August 17th to Sunday, September 5th, 2010 at 5:00 pm PT. 
Concurrent to the third public comment period, a 30 day consensus body opt-in period is now open {eligible voting members only…}

For more information see:

Changes made:

  1. (EQ credit 2) Updated names of standards/guideline documents forming basis of credit
  2. (EQ credit 2) Removed detailed list of ‘other facility noise sources’ presumably to make it more general and not be construed as limited or specific.
  3. (EQ credit 2) Potential Technologies and Strategies was completely stricken out, not clear as to why, but this seems to have been done with much of the credits (I checked a few others).

Changes (related to acoustics) were also made to:

  1.  SS 9.1 Connection to the Natural World: Places of Respite.
  2. EQ 3.1 Environmental Quality Management Plan (EQMP): During Construction
  3. ID Prerequisite 1 - Integrative Project Planning & Design (lists acoustical consultant as potential team member recommended to have)

These will be covered at another time.

Click on LEED for Healthcare 2009 3rd draft-acoustics portions for just acoustical portions of LEED for healthcare.

We will post background on these credits and what they mean in the coming weeks.  In general, the credits place requirements on room acoustics (acoustical finishes), privacy, sound isolation, background noise levels, construction noise levels, and exterior environment noise levels.

Evidence that Green School Construction to have great growth

August 13th, 2010

The first LEED for schools buildings are being built.  There may have been some issues with cost adds due to isolation requirements, but the performance experience for the building owners with the improved acoustics is having a lasting impact.  Given that aging schools are going to have to be replaced or upfitted.  Energy drivers will make LEED and other green building programs more popular, and experience with indoor environmental quality will generate demand for better school environments.  The following article discusses this and more.

ICC turns down Classroom Acoustics Standard, Access Board moves to add Classroom Acoustics to ADA rules

August 5th, 2010

“the Board is proceeding with rulemaking to add scoping provisions to its ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines that would apply the ANSI/ASA standard to classrooms that are newly constructed or significantly renovated….” Cost information gathering to follow… then Public Comment period on proposed rule…

I recommend signing up to their rulemaking email list.

I also recommend reviewing the new Classroom Acoustics Standard available at

Classroom Acoustics Standard 2010 out for ballot and available for public comment through March 1st

February 16th, 2010

The classroom acoustics standard has significant revisions made in a proposed draft.  It is available for purchase and public comment as described in the link below (important excerpt shown)

Our firm is reviewing the document to then describe the key changes made.  Look for a post soon on this topic.  We welcome your comments and will post those relevant to the subject.

From the news: “Study: Portable Classrooms Noisy, Pose Health Risks to Children”

November 19th, 2009

(courtesy of Fox News and acoustics researcher Norm Phillipp, and Peter D’Antonio (RPG Inc.) who provided the commentary in the article)


Norm Phillipp…found that at each school at least one portable classroom was used for language instruction, students with special-needs, music instruction or for children younger than 8.

A survey of schools across the U.S. agreed, finding that 26 percent of modular classrooms are used as music rooms, 11 percent are used for early childhood programs, and 9 percent are used for language instruction. …these are exactly the wrong ways for portable classrooms to be used … “When I saw this, my jaw hit the floor,” Phillipp said. “These types of usages should never be in a modular classroom… Kids need a quieter environment than adults because they can’t hear as well…Learning a second language makes it even harder on the hearing. Students need the instructor’s voice turned up an extra 5 decibels against background noise — or the room to be 5 decibels quieter — to comprehend an unfamiliar language, estimated Peter D’Antonio…,2933,575542,00.html

Healthcare Privacy, HIPAA fines, and Green Healthcare on the move

November 12th, 2009

This information is courtesy of the speech privacy subcommittee of the technical committee on noise at ASA (
1. PENALTIES: HIPAA enforcement has been lax, but starting this month (Nov 30), there’s a new $1.5 million penalty for non-compliance as part of Obama’s ARRA-HITECH ACT. If Speech Privacy is one of your interests, this impacts you… See: 
2. THE NEW GUIDELINES APPEAR IN MID-JANUARY: …. In mid-January, the new comprehensive acoustical guidelines for healthcare facilities will be published. To order a copy, go to: Simultaneously, we will publish an updated version of the 50-page “Acoustical Guidelines” (which is the reference standard for the FGI Guidelines) at
In January our (speech privacy subcommittee) website ( will launch an “online community” for healthcare research to enable healthcare institutions to interact directly with acoustics researchers and consultants. For information, click here .

This FGI guideline paves the way for LEED for Healthcare as well. Per the powerpoint on the “click here” above (thanks to David Sykes et al)


Two “EQ” credits available for acoustics in:

  • The LEED-based Green Guide for Healthcare V2.2 (1.31.07),
  • the new LEED  for Healthcare (due out late 2009)

FGI’s Interim Sound and Vibration Guideline is the sole reference standard for these credits

 (Added comment from Joe Bridger- HIPAA privacy will likely look to these guides and the related research for its fines.)