When Part E, the new Building Regulations, came into force last year to gain improved sound insulation for new buildings, including residential homes, schools or hotels, it truly put acoustics and sound insulation on the map.
The amendments to Part E, was in part, driven by consumer demands and fuelled by rising housing densities and changing lifestyles, and with the agenda now set, the industry, from consultants through to installers need to make acoustics a priority. Part E looks at materials and construction of noise levels for walls, floors and ceilings.
Airborne noise between walls, floors and stairwells is stated at being no more than 45 dB and impact noise no higher than 64 dB. Currently noise generated from plumbing and drainage systems is not included. But as acoustic improvements are made in other areas, noise generated from pipework, even those related to commonplace activities such as flushing a toilet or emptying water from a sink or bath, particularly from height, will become increasingly more noticeable to end users. A trend that is likely to mean expectations will continue to rise and drive future legislation forward.
The revisions to standards such as DIN 4109 10 (now simplified in the new European standard Pr EN 14366), which looks to offer new requirements for the sound pressure levels or noises emitted by sanitary installations for residential buildings, will help to guide the industry and potentially head off major contractual problems in the future. It is definitive that reducing noise within a building from any source is going to become an increasingly important issue for the hvac industry, ensuring pipework systems that cater for various systems including hot and cold water supply, heating and air conditioning, not only address minimum standards but look to set a precedent.
Despite the lack of guidance in Part E regarding noise from plumbing and drainage, there is a strong belief from some leading pipework manufacturers that decision makers should already be looking to lay down maximum sound pressure levels in current contracts.
DIN 4109 10 (E) proposes new requirements of additional sound insulation for residential buildings: Standard Sound Insulation is measured at Lin 30dB (A); Additional Sound Insulation at Lin 27dB (A) and Comfort Sound Insulation at Lin 24dB (A). This adjustment would go someway to offering specifiers and contractors with a simplified and flexible guide, as to what level to attain too be it the minimum or maximum - in helping to reduce solid borne and air borne noise generated from above ground plumbing and drainage.
Traditionally, cast iron has been seen as the sound attenuation material of choice but options on sound attenuated drainage are not just limited to one material. In particular, plastic pipe manufacturers continued technical advancements have meant that a range of high performance, plastic pipework systems that have been specifically engineered to meet and address acoustic requirements, can often provide improved sound insulation properties to its traditional cast iron counterparts. New plastic pipe systems have adopted technology advancements to offer superior products. The dual technology embraced by the Friaphon sound attenuated drainage system for example extrudes two materials of different densities together, guaranteeing excellent sound insulation, as the sound waves are partially reflected along the pipe boundary layers to be absorbed by the pipe's mass.
At the same time, contractors can also look to use double couplers as standard connectors, this way pipes can be connected to each other, free of any structure-borne noises, by way of a floating bearing of the pipe ends. Sound proofing, rubber lined support and sliding clips also help reduce the transmission of structure borne noise. Looking at how sound attenuated drainage products perform, according to individual testing is one way of guaranteeing best practice and limiting future risk. Many reputable pipe manufacturers offer this comparison as part of their customary technical service and specifiers and contractors should equally look to see how short-listed products perform, according to current and proposed standards.
Extracts from the Test Certificate of the Fraunhofer Institute for Construction Physics for example, show that the Friaphon wastewater system reduces sound pressure levels to 15 dB (A), at a typical flow rate of two litres per second, well within the comfort sound insulation requirements of DIN 4109-10(E). In addressing the acoustic issue, cost obviously plays its part and high performance plastic brands are able to reduce sound vibrations, guarantee excellent sound insulation, at the same time as offering a lower cost alternative.
Cost shouldn’t be just measured on ‘material cost’. Instead, a range of costings from installation and life cycle costings should also be taken on board, and high performance plastic pipe alternatives can offer lower material costs, coupled with speed and no need for installation lagging to offer cost savings of up to 50% on traditional materials.
In Europe, where multi occupancy living has been a more popular construction method, regulations and standards have always referred to requirements on noise emitted by sanitary installations. This lead is arguably one that should be followed by the UK if the building services industry is to address and effectively combat acoustic problems in buildings such as residential homes, apartments, hotels and hospitals through to entertainment venues and restaurants. Building services is continuing to face a sea of change in terms of standards, regulations, procurement practices and client expectations.
In relation to the field and provision of acoustics, Hvac workers need to ensure they have a sound plan and keep abreast of the latest regulations to guarantee that they are in line for the lucrative projects moving forward.