Technical newsletters about emerging issues & our latest research

Are residents satisfied with their living conditions when the building meets standards set out for noise, ventilation and overheating?

We have undertaken research into resident’s perceptions on internal noise levels, ventilation and thermal comfort. This has uncovered that residents are often resigned to high levels of noise to improve ventilation, even when mechanical ventilation is available.

There is an inter-relationship between noise, ventilation and overheating as all are impacted by openable windows and therefore it is important to consider them together when designing a building.

Our research suggests that there is a lack of understanding on residents’ perceptions on noise, ventilation and overheating. Residents interviewed were resigned to high noise level exposure to improve ventilation and overheating and believe they will become accustomed to the noise level. Residents seemed unaware of the long term health implications associated with noise.

The research covered two buildings – one with a natural ventilation strategy and the other with a mechanical ventilation strategy. In both situations, residents were unsatisfied with the level of ventilation within the dwelling.

The residents with mechanical ventilation had a lack of understanding of what the system was and how it worked, and often relied on opening windows for background ventilation. This led to the system not being used correctly or any maintenance carried out, which has an impact on the efficiency of the system.

The research concluded that consideration should be taken on how to educate the residents on how best to use their dwellings to ensure the design solutions are performing to the optimum level. This could be achieved by providing guidance on opening windows during night time hours in unoccupied spaces to gain maximum ventilation and overheating results whilst reducing the risk of exposure to excessive noise levels.

It shouldn’t be a choice between comfort, ventilation and noise – the three should work in tandem. This is the objective of the draft ANC guidance on Acoustics, Ventilation and Overheating Residential Design Guide.