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  • Charlotte Haye

How Does Noise Mapping Work, And Why Do I Need It?

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

Noise is everywhere around us. It’s very rare we experience complete silence – in fact

most of the time we are bombarded with sounds from all angles. Most of the time we don’t

even notice these sounds happening – it all becomes background noise. Even the noises we once found annoying and disrupting can be phased out if you try hard enough. But there are times when noise, and the vibrations it causes, can be harmful to your physical and mental health, which is why noise emissions are carefully monitored and even legislated. The ways this is done is through noise mapping.

What Is Noise Mapping?

A noise map is a visual representation of noise levels in a given area. It really is that simple!

They take the form of a contour map, which is overlaid over a map of the surveyed area to

indicate different noise sources and sound levels. The contours are usually coloured

to show the intensity of the noise, high or low frequencies, and the distance travelled. This

gives you a quick and easy way to see where the noise sources are and how they affect various receptors. Noise maps also, allow you to test noise control measures, such as screens/fences, bunds and alternative site layouts.

However, noise mapping isn’t a simple process. Because many environments change on a

daily if not minute-by-minute basis, getting an accurate and reliable reading for sounds can

be difficult. In dynamic environments where noise sources can be intermittent, unpredictable and varied, it’s important to ensure these are all accounted for within the noise map. This means taking a lot of different measurements at various times and using noise prediction techniques and specialist software to gather the data needed to produce an accurate noise map.

Why Do You Need A Noise Map?

Noise maps are a useful tool for most projects, but they are essential for a lot of modern construction and renovation work. For a lot of local authorities, noise maps are actually part of the approval process, particularly for new motorways, railways, airports, or new builds and renovations in already built-up areas. Noise maps show that developers have considered the noise impact of both their construction work and of the local area on anyone within the building when it’s finished, and have put plans in place to prevent harm.

This is because noise maps can be incredibly helpful to assess the risks of harmful noise,

particularly in buildings or industries that might be more at risk than others. For example,

buildings operating machine rooms will need noise maps to ensure the sounds and

vibrations of the machinery aren’t adversely affecting the people in the building. If a new

housing development is planned near an airport, noise maps can asses the impact air traffic will have on the area and help builders make decisions on sound-proofing precautions. For a commercial or industrial development, a noise map can be used to predict noise emissions from activities, AC units, etc. to existing noise sensitive receptors., and to test noise control measures.

How Do You Make A Noise Map?

Noise mapping is done by taking measurements at various positions in and around a proposed (or existing) development site. These measurements are taken using specialist equipment and are (ideally) carried out over long periods of time to provide as much data as possible. The measurement points are selected carefully to provide full coverage of the area in question, and can be adjusted throughout the measurement period if needed. All of that data is then put through a sophisticated piece of software which calculates noise

level variation along with reflections, screening, transmission paths,

ground topography, receiver locations and noise barriers. From all of that, it creates a set of

3D noise maps.

But for most people that’s a lot of extra work, resources and equipment they simply don’t

have – especially if they have a deadline to meet. So instead, they hire an acoustic

consulting firm like us to help. We perform noise surveys using the latest equipment to

assess noise and vibration in any environment and provide you with detailed 3D noise maps

that show you exactly where noise comes from. We also provide advice in acquiring

planning permission and measures to prevent adverse noise impact, giving you the

support you need from beginning to end. If you would like more information, just get in touch with the team today.

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