Whether you’re a fan or not, Obama’s economic stimulus package passed recently, opening the door to gobs of government money (ie: your tax dollars at work) being pumped into the economy. So where do acoustics fit into the puzzle? Well, they’re becoming a key piece. To use an analogy from the car industry, acoustical design used to be viewed as a “Cadillac” service in the world of architecture and engineering. That is, acoustics were seen as an expensive add-on for only the most affluent clients. Not so anymore. 2009 is ushering in a new era of green building practices with acoustical design as a key and indispensable design element for buildings. And as the popularity of architectural acoustics increases, so do its funding and its benefits.
Increased Acoustical Funding
As acoustical consultants, we’re seeing a big upswing in funding for acoustics in architectural design. This is due, in part, to a raised awareness amongst architects, but the lion’s share of the credit goes to the U.S. Green Building Council, which has been adding acoustical standards to their numerous green building programs over the past several years. On their website, The USGBC cites “improved air, thermal, and acoustic environments” as the top Community and Health Benefit for green buildings (http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=1718) and the LEED for Homes program now includes an innovative design point for “Acoustic Comfort” in new home construction (https://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=5293). With acoustics becoming an integral part of the LEED Green Building Certification Program, we are seeing more and more projects devote significant chunks of their budgets to this end. Many state and federal programs are requiring that all their new buildings be LEED Certified. And where there are budgets being spent, there are benefits being rendered.
Increased Acoustical Benefits
What makes acoustics “green?” Ask some architects to define the primary benefit of architectural acoustics in green building design, and some will use the catch phrase “indoor environmental quality.” Still others will refer to “thermal comfort” or “optimized energy efficiency.” We say it’s all of the above. Many acoustic products double as thermal insulators, so you can increase the level of “thermal comfort” while decreasing unwanted reverberation and the costs of utility bills. As an added benefit, acoustical design increases a building’s “indoor environmental quality,” meaning people enjoy stress free atmospheres and clear conversations. Look across the vacant wastelands of torn down buildings in your town. We demolish buildings and factories that have long since “served their purpose,” but we don’t tear down the places that people love to be in. Architectural acoustics create fantastic atmospheres that people enjoy, and that, in turn, increases the building’s lifespan and sustainability.
At Acoustics By Design, our company president, Kenric Van Wyk, is a LEED Accredited Professional Acoustical Consultant, meaning he has passed the extensive examination process of the U.S.G.B.C., and is well suited to design and engineer buildings that meet the requirements of the LEED Certification process. Our online portfolio has an extensive section devoted to our completed LEED projects, and we’re proud to lead the way toward making the world a quieter, more enjoyable place. It’s our role in the acoustical stimulus.