Noise from building services equipment

Building services are any mechanical or electrical systems that serve buildings such as air conditioning, power supply, ventilation, heating or cooling systems and/or equipment that has the potential to generate high noise and vibration levels. 

Typical examples can range from the installation of a heat pump or mechanical ventilation in/on a domestic dwelling through to the many different individual building service systems in/on complex commercial buildings.

The requirement to control the noise from such building services equipment is normally driven by:

  • Planning conditions for external noise which may also include BREEAM requirements for credits and,
  • Client or BREEAM internal noise requirements.

External building services noise

The degree to which external building services noise needs to be controlled is normally relative to the pre-existing background noise level in the area.

A building in a noisy city centre environment will not, for example, have to control building services noise as much as the same building in a quiet rural location.

Internal building services noise

Within buildings, different building uses have different requirements. Theatres and performance-based buildings are likely to require very low building service noise levels compared to schools and offices where moderate noise levels are more acceptable.

Controlling building services noise and vibration

To help control and keep the noise and vibration from building services equipment at the right level, we:

  • Conduct a background noise survey;
  • Calculate the noise and vibration emitted from the building services equipment;
  • Make recommendations to either:
    • Reduce the noise from the equipment itself or,
    • Develop the design of noise control measures such as barriers, screens or enclosures.

The feasibility of controlling building services noise most effectively depends on the type of system(s) chosen at the outset. The earlier we are involved in the design process, the more we can help reduce any abortive time spent on ineffective designs.

RIBA Stages & Acoustics

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Cardiff University

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