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NOVA Acoustics

What is a Noise Survey?

Noise surveys, acoustic surveys or noise impact assessment come in all shapes and sizes… With a lot of confusing terminology! NOVA Acoustics attempts to clarify the uncertainty…

In any profession that a person can think of there are certain techniques and procedures that get used on a daily basis that can be considered ‚’bread and butter’ tasks – this can be debugging code for a programmer or performing a hearing test for an audiologist…

For an acoustic consultant, one such task is the humble noise survey. A noise survey is essentially an investigation undertaken by an acoustic consultant in order to establish whether the sound levels being emitted from the client’s operations are in excess of what is to be reasonably expected.

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This is performed with a sound level meter, where measurements are taken which an engineer then uses to inform decisions about the noise; these decisions can be on whether the noise will impact nearby amenities or if the noise produced is likely to cause complaints, or falls within the thresholds outlined by certain regulations.

The term ‘noise survey’ is actually a catch all term that is often used to describe the measurement of noise stemming from a wide variety of sectors. There are many areas in which a noise survey can be undertaken. The main areas are outlined below:

Noise surveys for residential developments – planning permission must be applied for in the case of a new residence or when a longstanding residence is being altered significantly. Baseline measurements are obtained (using a sound level meter) against which levels of noise impact are gauged for the new residential developments; these should be made in-line with World Health Organization guidelines and British Standards. Recommendations can then provided to ensure the amenity of the occupants is protected.

Industrial noise surveys – when installing a new or noisier piece of equipment (for instance an air-conditioning unit), a business will often be tasked by their local council or environmental health team with obtaining an industrial noise survey in order to ensure that is doesn’t impact on other businesses and homes within the area. This should be performed with the relevant British Standard (typically BS4142).

Entertainment noise surveys – these are very similar to a noise survey performed for a residential development. However, as music is such a crucial element in these surveys, extra work is undertaken to analyse the frequency components emitted by the premises. This is done as troublesome low frequency noise commonly makes up a significant proportion of the musical content.

Wind-turbine noise survey – renewable energy systems are continuing to be installed throughout the country and the noise generated by wind-turbines if becoming of increasing concern. Analysis of noise generated by wind-turbines should be performed with reference to guidance issued by the Institute of Acoustics (ETSU-R-97).

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