Acoustics and LEED
Today’s post was written by a guest blogger, Michele LeTourneur, IIDA, LEED
AP, Project Director at Envision Design, a LEED-CI Gold certified office. Michele has worked on 10 LEED-CI projects, including two Platinum certified projects.
So why is it so noisy in here and why aren’t you doing something about it?
Until USGBC created an acoustics credit for LEED for Schools, the field of acoustics had largely been ignored by the rating systems. Even now, LEED for Schools remains the only rating system to address acoustics as a part of indoor environmental quality.
The IEQ credits address many open plan issues, yet one of the largest complaints from office occupants about green buildings has been about acoustics. This was noted in a 2007 GSA survey of 11 LEED offices where occupants said distractions and lack of privacy lowered their performance.
Ironically, acoustics is specifically called out on the USGBC’s website as one of the main aspects of pursing credits under the indoor environmental quality credit category.
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans spend about 90% of their day indoors, where the air quality can be significantly worse than outside. The Indoor Environmental Quality credit category promotes strategies that can improve indoor air as well as providing access to natural daylight and views and improving acoustics."
If acoustics are important, why has this aspect of interiors planning been largely ignored by LEED?
Credits from one rating system can be used in others as an innovation credit, but still, but if acoustics are important to Indoor Environmental Quality, why are they not part of the main rating system? Dealing with acoustics is hardly exceptional or innovative; per the USGBC’s own website, it’s fundamental.
In an article posted on Facilities.net in 2005, a representative from USGBC had the following comment: "In the coming years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see LEED-CI place a greater emphasis on the human factors issues in the workplace, such as ergonomics, acoustics and possibly productivity." [U.S. Green Buildings Council Launches LEED Commercial Interiors Program, Greg Zimmerman, Executive Editor, May 2005]
This was written in 2005, obviously well before the introduction of the new version 3.0 rating system. I am still very curious why USGBC hasn’t addressed acoustics in the work environment, as they have in LEED for Schools and soon to be in LEED for Healthcare. In fact the IEQ credits in LEED 2009 have barely been touched at all. The interiors are where the people are. Answers needed. No shouting please!