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Noise Mitigation

Architects, builders, and home buyers have been putting a higher priority on healthier homes and workplaces.  This is in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic which forced us all to spend increased time at home.  Now as we move back to the office fully or in hybrid work situations, we are more aware and in tune with our environments.  “Healthy” typically focuses on indoor air and water quality, and access to views and light, often overlooking the impact of noise on our health.

Numerous studies have linked unwanted noise to poor health.  Exposure to unwanted sound acts as a stressor.  Stress can make your heart race, elevate blood pressure, increasing the chances of heart attacks, disease, and stroke.  Stress is also known to negatively affect the immune system, aggravating diabetes, and breathing problems such as asthma and COPD.   The Mayo Clinic has associated stress with headaches, fatigue and stomach upset.  Obviously, noise can adversely affect sleep which has its own detrimental effects.

Many of our environments we can’t control. Restaurants can be noisy. Same with our workplaces. And with our modern-day concessions to always-on cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices, we’ve invited more noise into our environments. So, we retreat to our homes to be our havens from all the noise. Like the flip side of a coin, quiet places help our bodies relax, decrease stress and anxiety, promote concentration, learning and productivity, and improve sleep. Quiet environments can even help to improve memory.

The Energy Mass wall system did not set out to be a sound-proof wall.  The benefits of quiet are a welcome result of the materials and method of construction.  For the purposes of sound attenuation, the Energy Mass wall is considered a double masonry wall.  The two layers of concrete effectively block airborne transmission over a wide range of frequencies.  Sound moving through a wall is typically measured on a scale of 1-100 called a sound transmission coefficient (STC).  This measurement is simply the drop in decibels from one side of the wall to the other.  Energy Mass wall has an STC of 77.  Some examples of noise on the decibel scale for reference are: 0dB is the quietest sound the human ear can hear, 40dB is a quiet library, 60dB is ordinary spoken conversation, 88dB is heavy traffic, 97dB an industrial fire alarm, 110dB a live concert and 130dB is a jet plane taking off 100m away.  Human hearing can be damaged over 80dB.

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