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How new noise standards impact on industry

CSIRO : 27 October, 2003  (Technical Article)
New acoustical provisions for the Building Code of Australia, which the Australian Building Codes Board is working towards being incorporated into the BCA next year, will have a wide impact across the building and construction and building materials industries.
The proposed acoustical provisions will increase the current sound insulation requirements by 10 decibels in most cases. This means that all new multi-dwelling buildings will have to be quieter in future.

The new acoustical provisions have been in preparation for eight years. They will apply to dwellings with common wall(s), and/or floor/ceiling(s). In a strategic review of the BCA, the ABCB have mentioned the possibility of regulating sound insulation of external facades in future versions of the BCA.

Customers who are currently producing new building products such as wall-panelling, flooring and doors may need to satisfy the new acoustical requirements.

The current acoustical provisions are easy to satisfy. The requirement now is that a common wall or floor only needs to achieve an airborne sound insulation rating of 45 decibels. A wall between a noisy room and a quiet room needs to achieve an airborne sound insulation rating of 50 decibels and satisfy an impact sound insulation requirement.

Airborne and impact sound insulation tests are conducted by CSIRO for wall products.

For floor products only the airborne sound insulation test is currently required. The proposed new acoustical provisions will require impact sound insulation testing of floor products. CSIRO is the only laboratory in Australia that has the capability to undertake acoustical floor testing in a laboratory.

The proposed acoustical provisions will allow on-site testing as a means of assessing compliance. Thus, the demand for field acoustic testing will increase after the new acoustical provisions are introduced by ABCB.

The ABCB is working towards the changes being incorporated in the BCA as part of BCA 2004 (1 May 2004). An Outcomes Report is due to be released later this year. The Outcomes Report will outline the final content of the changes and give industry approximately six months to prepare for the changes.

A number of building products manufacturers are getting ahead of the game in preparation for the new standard and have had testing done by CSIRO Industrial Research Services.

CSIRO has performed a series of tests on a major new wall system comprising both airborne and impact noise reduction measurements. The variations included testing different methods of construction, plasterboard configurations and insulating materials installed in the air gap.

A similar range of tests has been performed for a major floor system comprising both airborne and impact noise reduction measurements on a proprietary lightweight concrete product installed on timber studs. The tests included the installation of a plasterboard suspended ceiling and the testing of numerous different floor coverings.

Hinged and sliding acoustic doors have also undergone a range of tests, and included the development of a door that was superior in acoustic performance to an American imported product that, until then, had set the benchmark. The tests also included the evaluation of various commercially available perimeter-sealing systems.
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