Silence is Golden

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Modern living incurs much unwanted and disruptive noise – automobiles, trains, airplanes, jackhammers, sirens, loud speakers – occurring all around us every day. These intrusive sounds seep through walls and windows, entering our homes and businesses to join other distracting noises – humming light fixtures, air conditioners, ringing phones and loud talking. Fortunately, governments have developed laws requiring decibel levels be maintained at or below specified limits so noise pollution stresses can be minimized. SoundPLAN, a suite of software for noise evaluation and mapping, is used worldwide to examine noise situations, evaluate noise reduction methods and plan future road, rail, air, industrial or leisure facilities noise footprints. Not only does it optimize noise control measures, it allows planners to visualize the effects of the noise control method chosen.

One of the noise modules with features unique to SoundPLAN, Wall Design, is used to determine where berms and noise control walls are needed along roadways and railways, and how wide and high they should be in order to reduce the sound radiating from them to the adjacent areas. The module helps determine the smallest size of the noise protection wall, which can substantially reduce building costs. For example, the cost vs. noise reduction breakpoint changes dramatically when the maximum allowed height of a noise barrier is lowered. The maximum height may be determined by planning constraints or the visual impact of the wall. While it recommends optimum wall shapes, the software allows for wall designs customized to local conditions such as its visual impact.

Wall Design also helps planners generate figures about the cost of different variants so it is easy to see which measures are most cost effective. And it shows how many people will benefit from the noise control measure.

With an additional module, Façade Noise Map, the cost relationship between building a noise control wall and having to retrofit windows is directly available as a graph for building/receivers in a neighborhood. Experimenting with different weighting factors between noise protection walls and noise control windows allows the user to incorporate the reduction in property value for buildings with insufficient active noise control (i.e. noise protection wall).

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Picture Text: Wall optimizing with weighted costs of active (i.e. noise protection wall) and passive (i.e. windows) noise control measures.

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