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    3 June 2016
    Acoustic Comfort in the office: a topical issue

    Acoustic Comfort in the office: a topical issue

    Since the publication of the new noise standard in May 2014, UNI 11532:2014 “Building Acoustics – Internal Acoustical Characteristics of Confined Spaces”, the issue of acoustic comfort has become a topical subject of great interest to builders and furniture companies.

    This regulation was drafted to provide technical guidelines on the different calculation models and to highlight the importance of noise indicators.

    Caruso Acoustic has endorsed the principles behind this legislation regulating noise pollution, and we have developed a series of products that can be perfectly installed in different types of environments.

    In particular in the office, acoustic correction of working environments has been made necessary not just in terms of a company’s approach to workplace safety, but also in terms of increasing productivity. Indeed, it has been proven that noise from interaction among people in confined areas can cause a constant loss of concentration.

    “In Italy”, explained Roberto Pignataro, the Caruso Acoustic product manager, “it has only been in the last few years that people have developed a certain concern for acoustic comfort in environments, so we often have to take remedial action after the design and construction of the buildings. However, in venues where acoustics is considered an integral part of the project, such as theatres, auditoriums and conference halls, we have to tackle the roots of the problem”.

    So how do you work to support the principles behind UNI11532 and upgrade the venue to higher standards of acoustic comfort? Much can be done: “We carefully assess the materials present, the furniture arrangement, the dimensions of the venue and the activities performed there”, explained Mr Pignataro, adding “all this information is reprocessed using our new analysis software, which helps us to determine what work needs to be done to achieve the desired comfort and suggest which materials should be used”.

    The problem of noise pollution and its repercussions on work occurs just as often in open space offices as it does in closed offices.

    In open space offices, the disturbance factors include different work groups, printers, air conditioning, telephones and all kinds of conversations: in these cases, sound is also transmitted at a distance and therefore the most effective interventions involve the installation of ceiling panels and partition screens between each desk.

    There are also critical issues in closed offices caused by finishing materials, such as floors, walls and ceilings, which are often made with low absorbent, and in the worst case, reflective materials.

    Caruso has developed different solutions to effectively tackle the problem of noise pollution, but which are also aesthetically and formally salient, guaranteeing the greatest acoustic comfort at the workplace with the fewest number of elements.

    Caruso Acoustic products are therefore easy to install in both open space and closed environments, relying on a wide range of measurements either for panels that can be fitted onto walls and ceilings or for desk and ground partitions, etc, which are easy to install in any environment and offer long-lasting durability.

    In the example below, we shall see how you can change the acoustics of a venue thanks to an effective and logical organisation of sound-absorbing elements.

     trattamento acustico ufficio

    Our example office has a surface area of 60 m2 and a volume of 162 m3, featuring materials that are often found in offices, such as stoneware, plaster, glass and laminates.

    The materials taken into account to calculate the RT are plaster, ceramics, plasterboard, double-glazing and wood. The Reverberation Time calculated for this venue is 2.10 s at an average of 250-2000 Hz, which is unsuitable for any activity.

    The optimum Reverberation Time for office activities should be between 0.4 s and 0.6 s, depending on the volume of the venue. In our example venue, we could achieve an RT of 0.52 s at an average of 250-2000 Hz, which is very good for an open space office, simply by using desk screens and panels suspended from the ceiling above the work stations.

    If we look at the graph, we can see how the reverberation time decreases as sound-absorbing elements are added, so we will see that we need to act at several points, especially in crowded offices such as the one in question, varying and arranging the sound-absorbing materials in a uniform way to achieve an optimum end acoustic result.

    The expressed RT values are for an empty venue.

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