Why sustainability versus acoustical quality doesn’t have to be a trade-off

By Victoria J. Cerami

Clean air, natural light, thermal comfort, a productive ambience are all elements of indoor environmental quality that come to mind when we think of successful corporate interiors. They all contribute to occupant health and performance. Paradoxically, however, sustainable design often leaves acoustics out of the picture. Except in the case of LEED for Schools (with LEED Health care on the horizon), there are no LEED credits for acoustics. This oversight is compounded by the fact that designers can inadvertently compromise acoustics when designing green.

It is not that acoustics are deemed unimportant. Routinely, distracting noise and lack of acoustical privacy are at the top of workplace complaints. In green buildings, it turns out, it can be even worse. In a 2006 report by the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at UC Berkeley, surveys showed that occupants of LEED-rated and/or green buildings were found to be more satisfied with their indoor environment than their counterparts in non-green buildings. Yet, when it came to acoustics specifically, occupant satisfaction was lower in green than in non-green buildings. To continue reading Victoria Cerami’s white paper on the need for LEED for acoustics, download the article.


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