# The Role of Acoustics in Curtain Wall Design:

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1 The Role of Acoustics in Curtain Wall Design: Strategies to Achieve Desired Performance Criteria April 22, 2015 John LoVerde, Principal VENEKLASEN ASSOCIATES, INC.

2 Goals Basics of Acoustics Ratings in Architectural Acoustics Single Number Metrics Code Requirements Acoustical Performance of Curtainwall Elements that affect noise level Effect of glazing parameters Noise from Curtainwall Systems Sound Isolation at Vertical Condition Sound Isolation at Horizontal Condition

3 Acoustics Basics

4 What is Sound? Sound is short-term pressure fluctuations that propagate through a medium In air, it is a pressure wave of fluctuations above and below atmospheric pressure

5 Sound Level: Decibels The decibel (db) is used to measure sound level and is a LOGARITHMIC unit that describes a ratio. Sound levels add logarithmically: 93 db + 93 db = 96 db 80 db + 90 db = 90 db Subjective reactions vary in the population. These are the rules of thumb regarding change. A change of around 3 decibels is just noticeable A change of around 6 decibels is obvious An increase of about 10 decibels is perceived as twice as loud.

6 Sound Levels of Various Sources

7 Sound Levels of Various Sources

8 Amplitude Amplitude Sound Frequency Frequency is how quickly the wave oscillates. Frequency is related to the pitch of a sound. Measured in Hertz (Hz) = cycles per second. Time = 1 sec. Time = 1 sec. 3 Hz 12 Hz

9 Sound as a Function of Frequency

10 Equal Loudness Contours

11 Acoustical Ratings: Single-Number Metrics

12 Important Ratings in Architectural Acoustics L eq CNEL L dn, DNL STC OITC Equivalent Level The average noise level over a specified time period (often 1 hour) Community Noise Equivalent Level Day-Night Noise Level Both are a noise description of the 24 hour average noise level, taking into account humans increased sensitivity to noise in the evening and nighttime. Sound Transmission Class A single number rating for assessing speech transmission through a structure Outdoor-Indoor Transmission Class A single number rating for assessing traffic noise transmission through a structure

13 Sound Transmission Class Test procedure defined in ASTM E90 (laboratory) and E336 (field) Noise is generated in source room Measure noise levels in receiving room in third-octave bands from Hz WESTERN ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC LABORATORY (WEAL)

14 Noise reduction or transmission loss Reference Contours 65 Better STC IIC

15 STC Example

16 STC Example =

17 STC Example STC =

18 Single Number Ratings STC Intent: a single number rating to compare isolation of different assemblies. These single-number ratings correlate in a general way with subjective impressions of sound transmission for speech, radio, television, and similar sources of noise in offices and buildings. Limitations: Only appropriate for noise sources with a sound spectrum similar to the reference contour. Does not deal with low frequency noise (<100 Hz)

19 Single Number Ratings OITC Intent: a single number rating to assess the isolation provided of different assemblies specifically for traffic and aircraft noise. These ratings provide an evaluation and rank ordering of the performance of test specimens based on their effectiveness at controlling the sound of a specific outdoor sound spectrum Limitations: Intended for traffic and therefore assumes a particular traffic spectrum that does not hold for all locations. Uses 80 and 100 Hz octave bands which have higher uncertainties in laboratory measurement. Limited evidence to show improvement over STC A good approximation is STC 6.

21 Exterior Façade Design 1. Define Exterior Noise Environment a. Measure b. Model 2. Calculate Interior Noise Level a. Transmission Loss (STC) b. Radiating Area c. Room Absorption 3. Which window? a. Glazing types b. Characteristics c. Breakpoints

22 Measurements

23 Quick and accurate model generation based on project drawings with 3D terrain data. Predict exterior noise levels with changing terrain and barriers. Predict exterior noise levels with height up the building façade, above where it is practical to measure. Noise Model

24 What Do We Measure? Metric Description Purpose LDN or CNEL Lmax Spectrum Average Daily Exposure Typical Short-Duration Noise Event Relative balance of low and high frequencies General acceptance. Code/General Plan compliance. Sleep disturbance. Intrusiveness. Very important for designing glazing

25 Average vs. Maximum Levels

26 One Equation To Rule Them All SPL inside SPL outside TL 10log S 10log A C

27 One Equation To Rule Them All SPL inside SPL outside TL 10log S 10log A C Transmission Loss

28 One Equation To Rule Them All SPL inside SPL outside TL 10log S 10log A C Transmission Loss Radiating Area Doubling window area = 3 db increase

29 One Equation To Rule Them All SPL inside SPL outside TL 10log S 10log A C Transmission Loss Radiating Area Room Absorption

30 Glazing Types Glass type Typical STC Range Comments Single plate Not used. Dual plate Standard residential. Dual, lam over plate Typical acoustical product. Dual, lam over lam Increased LF performance. Single lam Not typical because of Title 24. Triple When high isolation required.

31 The Problem with Dual-Glazing

32 Dual vs. Single Laminated ½ Lam STC

33 Triple Glazed or Storm Window

34 The Importance of Airspace 70 Triple Glazed Assemblies <2 40 Dual

35 Transmission Loss (db) Not Just About the STC! Brand X Average STC Very poor around 125 Hz Third Octave frequency (Hz)

36 Not Just About the STC! Glazing STC Rating Resultant Interior Noise Level (CNEL) Average STC No lam, 1 airspace Lam, 1 airspace Lam, 5/8 airspace 40 45

37 Transmission Loss (db) Effects of Glazing Parameters Average STC Original Change to laminated glass Laminated glass and smaller airspace Third Octave Frequency (Hz)

38 Noise of Curtainwall

39 Popping Occupant complained for popping or pinging noises from the curtainwall. Sound level as high as dba. Vibration can be felt in mullions. Top floor, two-story space, very large curtainwall relative to floor area. Only occurs during daytime; temperature change suspected.

40 Temperature Measurements High air temperature was 91 deg F.

41 Vertical movement of mullion of (3.55 mm). Horizontal movement of mullion of (2.29 mm). Aluminum framing shows marks of rubbing during movement. Deflection

42 Mitigation

43 Vertical Noise Isolation at Mullions

44 Vertical noise transmission between offices at corner mullion condition

45 Gaps at Edge-of-slab Condition

46 Mitigation Frame horizontal gypsum board closure about 12 below existing. Caulk to ceiling and glass. Fill cavity with insulation

47 Noise Reduction (db) Mitigation Results After Before Third octave frequency (Hz)

48 Noise Reduction (db) Mitigation Results After Before Large improvement below 500 Hz. Smaller improvement above 500 Hz. This region is believed to be associated with transmission through the mullions themselves Third octave frequency (Hz)

49 Another Edge-of-Slab (Wood joist building)

50 Noise Reduction (db) Mitigation After Before Large improvement at most frequencies. Smallest improvement at 1000 Hz which is mullion transmission Third octave frequency (Hz)

51 Noise Reduction (db) Sometimes the Mullion Transmission Is a Problem After Yikes! 40 Before At one curtainwall, the transmission was at 1000 Hz was extreme Third octave frequency (Hz)

52 Holes drilled in mullion at floor above. Acoustical caulk pumped into mullion to fill the mullion for the height of the spandrel. About inches high. Mitigation

53 Noise Reduction (db) Mullion Mitigation After NIC Before NIC Transmission at 1000 Hz and higher greatly reduced Third-Octave Band (Hz)

54 Horizontal Noise Isolation at Mullions

55 How Much Isolation You Need STC Rating Low Higher Middle Luxury

56 Defines What Type of Mullion Detailing You Need STC Rating

57 with thought to FLANKING CONSIDERATIONS This condition occurs in primarily concrete structure Mullions/windows Curtain wall connections to slab Floor conditions Ceiling (slab) conditions Interior intersection details Penetrations Curtain wall intersection at wall

58 Bare Mullion

59 Wrapped mullion

60 Effect of wrapping mullion STC 48 STC

61 Trim piece

62 Trim Piece

63 Effect of Trim Piece NIC 51, NIC 48, 46 NIC 50, 48,

64 Trim piece with seals

65 Trim piece with seals NIC

66 Wide or double mullions

67 Wide or double mullions

68 Wide or double mullions NIC

69 Double mullions with closure

70 Double Mullion with Closure

71 Double mullions with closure NNIC 62, 62,

72 Effect of Ceiling Flanking NIC NIC

73 Summary Chart Condition Low (Office) Mid-level (Hotel) Mid-High (Hotel, School, Condominium) Luxury (Condominium) Wall Min STC Mullion Result STC 40 Exposed STC STC 52 Wrapped or trim Trim STC STC 58 Widened/double STC STC 60+ Widened/double with closure STC 60+

74 Effects of Mullion Flanking STC 64 STC 53 STC STC 44 STC

75 Commercial Products

76 Summary Single Number Ratings Noise levels typically measured as DNL or CNEL Curtainwalls specified in terms of STC and OITC Single numbers do not tell the whole story Acoustical Performance of Curtainwall Exterior noise level, glazing area, acoustical room absorption will all affect the requirements for the glazing. No single number can convey all of the effects do not design to a rating. Type of glass, thickness of glass and airspace have specific effects on the performance at various frequencies. Noise from Curtainwall Systems Curtainwalls can generate noise due to friction or binding under thermal expansion. Sound Isolation at Vertical Condition Edge of slab requires a solid acoustical block of some sort Sound transmission through the curtainwall itself is sometimes a problem. Sound Isolation at Horizontal Condition Sound transmission through mullions requires careful consideration. The level of protection is determined by the required performance.

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