Project Title:

Occupant Perspectives on Outdoor Noise in Office Buildings

Testing perceived barriers to adoption of naturally ventilated and mixed mode buildings.

Status (updated 5/17/2012): Ongoing

Funding sources: CBE Industry Consortium


Project Objective

This study will investigate occupant satisfaction in office buildings with operable windows, specifically their satisfaction with the amount of outdoor noise in urban environments.

Significance to Industry

Buildings with operable windows can provide improved thermal comfort and control opportunities for users. Concerns about outdoor noise (such as traffic or construction noise) is often cited as a barrier to the installation or retrofit of operable windows in buildings.

Research Approach

We examined 23,000 office building occupants' perspectives on noise from both sealed and naturally ventilated/mixed-mode buildings. Using the CBE Occupant Survey, respondents are asked about seven IEQ areas including noise and acoustics. If they indicated dissatisfaction with noise, they are asked follow-up questions regarding the source of their discontent. Examples of displeasure include people talking on the phone, office equipment noise, mechanical noise, outdoor traffic noise, or respondents can fill in the source of their acoustical dissatisfaction.

Results suggest that occupants near operable windows are more satisfied than those near sealed windows or those far from either window type. Among occupants dissatisfied with noise, complaints about indoor noise sources, such as people talking, are about ten times more prevalent than outdoor noise complaints.

Publications

Goins, J., C. Chun, and H. Zhang, 2012. User perspectives on outdoor noise in buildings with operable windows. Center for the Built Environment, University of California, Berkeley.

Presentations

Goins, J. 2012. The changing context of comfort in an unpredictable world. Windsor, UK, April 12-15. Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings.

Occupants prefer operable windows, despite the possibility of experiencing outdoor noise.