BREEAM New Construction 2014 – Requirements for Acoustic Performance and Noise Pollution Credits

BREEAM New Construction 2014 – Requirements for Acoustic Performance and Noise Pollution Credits

Buildings which are the subject of a BREEAM New Construction 2014 assessment may be assessed against credits concerning internal Acoustic Performance (Hea05) and/or Reduction of Noise Pollution (Pol05). This guidance note provides advice to assist the commission or production of information for these credits to encourage compliance with BREEAM criteria and evidence requirements.

Appointing a Suitably Qualified Acoustician (SQA)

Both credit issues Hea05 and Pol05 rely on the appointment of a Suitably Qualified Acoustician at an early stage to provide acoustic and/or noise reports.

An individual achieving all of the following items can be considered to be a ‘Suitably Qualified Acoustician’:

  1. Holds a degree, PhD or equivalent qualification in acoustics/sound testing.
  2. Has a minimum of three years relevant experience (within the last five years), which clearly demonstrates a practical understanding of factors affecting acoustics in relation to construction and the built environment; including, acting in an advisory capacity to provide recommendations for suitable acoustic performance levels and mitigation measures.
  3. Holds a recognised acoustic qualification and membership of an appropriate professional body. The primary professional body for acoustics in the UK is the Institute of Acoustics.

The suitably qualified acoustician must provide evidence either in a signed and headed letter or in the acoustic/noise report(s) to confirm that they meet this definition.

Acoustic Performance (Hea05)

The number of credits available for credit issue Hea05 is dependent on building type. Up to three credits are available for Education, Healthcare, Office, Law Court, Industrial, Retail, Prison and ‘Other’ building types, whereas Multi-residential and other Residential Institution building types may achieve four credits.

The assessed building must then meet the acoustic performance standards and testing requirements for the specific building type and function areas, as set out in the BREEAM New Construction 2014 technical manual. For example, education facilities need to achieve the performance standards set out in Section 2 of the Acoustic Performance Standard for the Priority Schools Building Programme (APS), June 2013 relating to airborne and impact sound insulation of walls and floors (this guidance is to be replaced by ‘Acoustic design of schools: performance standards’, once published and fully adopted this will supersede the Acoustic Performance Standard for the Priority Schools Building Programme (APS), June 2013). If there evidence that all relevant spaces will meet this standard, and there is a commitment to undertake pre-completion acoustic testing, one of the BREEAM credits available for this issue may be awarded at Design Stage.

For all building types, the following evidence is required for the BREEAM assessor to assess the number of credits that can be awarded:

  • Professional acoustic report/study and calculations/measurements (pre and post construction).
  • A letter of appointment or other confirmation demonstrating when the Acoustician was appointed.
  • Relevant section/clauses of the building specification or contract and/or formal letter from the project team regarding their commitments, e.g. to implement the Acoustician’s recommendations.
  • There are also further evidence requirements for multi-residential developments, please check the BREEAM New Construction 2014 technical manual for full details, or ask your BREEAM Assessor or BREEAM Accredited Professional.

Reduction of Noise Pollution (Pol05)

There is one credit available for this issue for all building types.

One credit can be awarded by default where there are, or will be, no noise-sensitive areas or buildings within 800m radius of the assessed site. If this is the case, a plan with an appropriate scale should be provided highlighting the nearest noise-sensitive buildings and showing a line indicating the 800m radius. Proposed sources of noise from the new development, and distance (m) from these buildings to the assessed development, should also be noted on the drawings.

Where there are or will be noise-sensitive areas or buildings within the 800m radius of the assessed development, a noise impact assessment compliant with BS7445 must be carried out by an appointed suitably qualified acoustician. This must determine the existing background noise levels at the nearest or most exposed noise-sensitive development to the proposed development or at a location where background conditions can be argued to be similar. The noise level resulting from the new noise source must also be calculated. The BREEAM New Construction 2014 technical manual provides further guidance on this subject under credit issue Pol05, Compliance Note CN4.

The noise level should be measured at the nearest or most exposed noise-sensitive development to test if there is a difference no greater than +5dB during the day (07:00 – 23:00) and +3dB at night (23:00 – 07:00) compared to the background noise level. If the noise levels will be or are greater than this, measures must be designed and installed to attenuate the noise at its source to a level that will comply with these standards.

The suitably qualified acoustician’s report should cover all the above points and be provided to the BREEAM assessor. Where the acoustician has had to make recommendations for noise attenuation measures, evidence will be required in the form of either a marked up design plan highlighting the specification of the acoustician’s attenuation measures, or a formal letter from the client or design team confirming that attenuation measures recommended by the appointed suitably qualified acoustician will be installed.

What is a noise-sensitive area?

Landscapes or buildings where the occupiers are likely to be sensitive to noise created by the new plant installed in the assessed building, including:

  • Residential areas.
  • Hospitals, health centres, care homes, doctor’s surgeries etc.
  • Schools, colleges and other teaching establishments.
  • Libraries.
  • Places of worship.
  • Wildlife areas, historic landscapes, parks and gardens.
  • Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or near a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
  • Any other development that can be considered noise sensitive.
Please note:  Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information in this advice note, the reader should nevertheless check the requirements against those contained in the relevant technical manuals. If in doubt about any of the requirements listed, please contact us.