Key considerations in managing acoustic impacts

by Martin Smith

Despite being more focussed on broader Project Development and Engineering Management these days, I’m often asked questions on acoustics and noise control topics.

I’ve quickly listed key things to remember when considering implementation of acoustics and noise control in a projects and operations context:

  • Understand your constraints: Make sure you fully understand the Environmental Noise conditions that you intend (or already have!) signed up to, and how they apply to your project or operation. Know your daytime/evening/night time constraints, and whether they are measured internal or external to a dwelling.  Ensure your tonal and impulsive noise sources are known as they often have associated limit penalties.
  • Understand your local HSE legislation: For in-plant noise, ensure maximum noise level limits are understood, and areas that exceed this are designated mandatory hearing protection zones.  Consider noise dose meter for operational facilities to assess individual personnel daily exposure.
  • Sensitive receptors analysis: Do you know what nearby dwellings may be affected? Ground truthing is indeed necessary – don’t just rely on use of desktop GIS analysis.
  • Importance of modelling: With specialised consultants, highly developed software tools and fast computational speeds, development of a noise model has never been easier! Meaningful reporting generated from a noise model will quickly confirm how condition compliance may be achieved under varying atmospheric conditions.  People are really drawn to the colourful noise contour mapping output, and it is often is a great source for aiding meaningful discussion.

And a final note to finish off this little thought bubble – if there is only one message you take from this, please control noise at source where possible (particularly if in the project development phase).  It is far easier to suitably specify equipment noise requirements and control sound power generated at source than having to retrospectively implement enclosures or barrier solutions.