The open-office concept has become increasingly popular in today’s workplace. There are many advantages to this approach, including increased opportunities for collaboration, greater space efficiency, and potential for an interactive energy that appeals to many current employees as well as prospective talent.
Acoustically isolated band and choir rooms and a modern media center are just two of the new upgrades students at Oklahoma’s Cushing Middle School can enjoy, now that they are in a brand-new building that comes complete with cutting-edge ceiling assemblies.
Until now, acoustics in commercial office buildings had not been a formal part of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems except on a case-by-case basis. The new LEED v4 criteria, however, now takes into account the value of good acoustics in enhancing occupant satisfaction and productivity.
The sound transmission class (STC) and impact insulation class (IIC) are ASTM-derived single number ratings that try to quantify how much sound a stopped by partition being tested. Laboratory testing involves an ideal setting for the floor/ceiling assembly—it is isolated from the walls, and there are no penetrations for HVAC, plumbing lines, sprinklers, can lights, or electrical boxes. In the field (i.e. F-STC and F-IIC), the floor/ceiling assembly often sits on load-bearing walls, is connected to the structure, and contains many ceiling and floor penetrations for the items just mentioned. Consequently, the code allows for a lower rating for field scores over those in the lab.
Demand for better floor/ceiling acoustics in multifamily construction has been spurred by consumer desires, new guidelines from code bodies, and stricter enforcement of existing codes. This article reviews important new guidelines, delving into how construction manufacturers have created new products or enhanced existing ones in the pursuit of achieving higher acoustical performance.