Are Noise Complaints Driving You Crazy?

Are Noise Complaints Driving You Crazy?

By John Hauenstein, principal, Cerami Associates

Are Noise Complaints Driving You Crazy?

Today, there’s a heightened sensitivity to noise and vibration, creating an increased demand for buildings to provide quieter working and living environments. Building managers are barraged with complaints regarding rumbling elevators, whirring air conditioners, construction site vibration and thumping fitness studios. Cerami Site Assessments, a division of Cerami Associates, is a team of acoustical engineers who can troubleshoot noise issues on-site and help develop recommendations for cost-effective solutions.
We work with facility managers to discover their pain points and creatively search for solutions to bring relief. We can tailor solutions to reduce noise and vibration in a way that’s sensitive to their affected stakeholders and those living or working in the building.

Cerami Site Assessments provides noise assessment and remediation services for a wide range of facilities, including commercial, residential, research institutions, fitness studios, senior centers, restaurants and retail stores. After all, noise is a serious problem and one that can literally make you sick. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), noise is the second largest environmental cause of health problems, just after the impact of air quality.

We’ve been in the business of acoustic design for over 50 years, consulting with developers and architects on skyscrapers and supertalls, hospitals, museums, restaurants and every building that wants a signature sound. More recently, with noise complaints in NYC reaching an all-time high, we’ve grown our site assessment specialty to investigate ad hoc problems and provide solutions on-site and in real time.

For example, the facility manager of a mid-town mixed-use building called Cerami Site Assessments regarding complaints from tenants hearing intermittent rumbling coming from the ground floor. Cerami’s Site Assessment team investigated the noise complaints and determined that the noise was heard mostly during the morning. A bakery was located directly below the source of the complaints and took deliveries in the morning, so a survey was conducted during a scheduled delivery to determine the noise impact. After assessing the noise and vibration levels, it was clear that vibrational energy was entering the building structure as carts were dragging against the floor and running over irregularities and bumps in the floor. It was determined that modification to the existing loading equipment would be the easiest and most feasible way to reduce the noise impact, without having to implement any construction methods that would have been costly and less effective.

In another instance, the owner of a major mixed-use building went through an ambitious effort to replace the cooling towers for a 58-story, fully-occupied building. Yet, the operation of the new energy-efficient equipment resulted in noise complaints in apartments overlooking the roof containing the cooling towers. Cerami Site Assessments was called in to determine if noise levels exceeded the city noise code and to help with noise mitigation efforts. Based on multiple test iterations, it was determined that the system was not operating properly during off-peak hours. The Cerami team worked with the design engineers and manufacturers to quiet things down by replacing defective components, establishing maximum operating speeds and installing equipment to direct noise away from the residential tower.