Noise pollution is a current problem that we face every day. Its harmful effects impact both on the well-being of people and on the environment, so society as a whole is becoming more aware of it, and it is not surprising that the European legislative and regulatory framework is forcing public authorities to implement the necessary measures to guarantee our well-being. One of these measures is the performance of acoustic studies in projects through advanced noise mapping tools to measure the noise pollution of a specific area and adopt correct and optimized solutions. An environmental acoustic study is the tool that should be carried out on roads and urban infrastructures in order to determine if they comply with acoustic regulations.

Noise pollution and its effects on the population have been a generally ignored factor in urban planning in many cities, except for very obvious cases. In Spain many residential areas have problems of this type due to the settlement of urbanizations in areas close to transport infrastructure or industries. In response to this problem, it is common for residents to join neighbourhood associations that seek to exert pressure on the public administration to resolve their complaints.

Noise pollution in housing estates therefore affects people’s health and the environment in general, fauna and flora. But not only that, it also has economic effects. The price of a home in a residential area with severe noise pollution can affect the price of the property up to 30%, since potential buyers associate noise with a lower quality of life, and therefore are willing to invest less . In case of the appearance of noise after the commissioning of the urbanization, it could be devalued and the investment of the residents very affected.

Our knowledge as manufacturers of acoustic solutions, together with the complementary capabilities of our collaborators, allows us to provide answers and solutions to all questions related to noise pollution.

From Metalesa, in order to offer our acoustic services, we subcontract these acoustic studies to the best companies in the sector.

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To begin with, it is important to distinguish between two types of acoustic studies:

Acoustic building studies

They are intended for the technical improvement of the sound of a enclosed places as small businesses, leisure areas, discotheques, etc. This type of study is not part of our offer of services.

Environmental acoustic studies

These are the studies that we carry out in Metalesa, where the issue is to evaluate the sound propagated in an external environment, representing it through noise maps. Within this type of study we find two categories:

  • Infrastructure or facility projects: Any new highway, railway or large industry project usually includes an acoustic study to measure the temporary or permanent noise impact that will provoke in the area, and determine if it will be necessary to adopt measures like acoustic screens.
  • Urbanization projects: new urban developments must undergo an assessment of the noise level that they produce, as it can affect other buildings or homes in the area. In the event that the acoustic study determines that the legally established noise level is exceeded, the acoustic insulation of the facades should be carried out.

In addition, it also seems important to us to emphasize that there are two types of noise that can be analysed: on the one hand, airborne noise, transmitted by the air and coming from sound sources such as music equipment, smoke extractors or refrigeration equipment; this is the type of noise that we take care of at Metalesa. On the other hand, there is structural noise transmitted by vibrations of the structure.

What is the process to follow in an acoustic study?

  • First, it is necessary to determine if the area to be studied is subject to noise pollution.
  • The experts install their measuring equipment to evaluate whether the sound level is inside or outside what the norm allows. The time required to carry out the study is highly variable, from one or two hours to even leaving the equipment connected for a day, thus being able to analyse the variability of noise levels over time. This acoustic study depends on many factors, and all of them are taken into account when measuring the sound impact and determining a result of the study. For example, if the area is a closed tunnel, or if it is a road area with homes nearby, if these homes are high or low… These variables and many others will be surely taken into account by the expert for the viability of the acoustic study and the assessment of the results.
  • Noise maps are obtained through acoustic studies, which normally allow one or more solutions. Acoustic screens is the most commonly adopted to attenuate it. Once installed, experts will return to check the impact of the anti-noise screens and verify if the acoustic problem has been solved.

It should be noted that we can not only carry out these studies in highway or urban areas, acoustic studies can also be carried out in public places of concurrence.

Two types of acoustic screens

In the event that the acoustic study concludes that the noise levels are above what is established, at METALESA we take care of installing the acoustic screens so that the sound waves bounce or are absorbed. We can distinguish two types:

Reflective screens

They are used in areas where there is nothing on one side of the barrier, so what they do is bounce the sound to that side.

Absorbent screens

These screens are used when there are homes, buildings or any infrastructure on both sides. In this case the noise does not bounce, but is attenuated and dissipated by absorption. The sound that enters the barrier is converted into movement, which vibrates the material of which the screen is composed, which is usually rock wool. This material allows the attenuation of noise.

Is acoustic studies mandatory?

The execution of an acoustic study is mandatory for all situations where noises levels are usually higher than 70dBA. These places can be bars, gymnasiums, cinemas, game rooms, carpentry workshops, car workshops, discotheques… The specifications of each location are included in the municipal ordinances.

As for the road areas, as we have previously commented, the most usual thing is that acoustic studies are carried out in newly created projects.

Without a doubt, conducting an acoustic study is a way of ensuring legal requirements, and the first step to protect people’s quality of life and their the environment. With the installation of our acoustic screens we try to provide a solution to the noise pollution that affects certain areas. Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to carry out an acoustic study, together with our trusted supplier companies we will take care of carrying out the entire process from start to finish.