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Understanding WELL Building Certification and Key Acoustic Solutions


Understanding WELL Building Certification and Key Acoustic Solutions

Investigating environmental toxins and how they affect the human condition is becoming more of the standard for current and especially future architectural projects. One particular solution application is retrofitting or designing buildings that pose less of a health risk than many commercial and residential structures do today. Environmental toxins off-gassing in the building structures from interior materials compromise ventilation systems and create impacts on occupants' health. These are the obvious concerns, but what lingers in the background and often gets overlooked is unhealthy acoustics.


In a study of office space and health, researchers from Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, found that interior noise showed to potentially cause negative health effects. The study stated, “The reviewed papers indicate that high levels of background noise and speech intelligibility in the workplace negatively affect both physical and psychological well-being” (1).


Mitigating or eliminating interior and/or exterior noise pollution can change the vibration of a room from static to calm and from distraction to focus. FSorb knows how important acoustic attunement is to health and productivity. We use acoustical expertise to engineer noise deflection and absorption solutions that adhere to strict standards. This includes working alongside you when obtaining WELL V2 Building certification, particularly the S02, S03, and S04 credits where acoustic solutions are a key component. In addition, the volatile organic compound (VOC) reducing materials credit, X07 and X13, are addressed with FSorb soundproofing materials. The FSorb product line does not leach VOCs, which otherwise pose an accumulated danger that researchers are just now warning us about.


Consider the WELL Building certification and how important acoustic solutions are to obtaining higher certification levels for this standard. This ever-evolving building mission is proving to be an advantageous health investment, as well as a solid business investment.


WELL is not LEED


The two mainstream authorities in building certifications are WELL and LEED which require specific steps to obtain credits that ultimately lead to a specific level of certification (bronze, silver, gold, platinum). These 3rd party certifications are becoming essential to ensure improvements in human health within and around commercial and residential structures.


LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, has been around longer than WELL and focuses on a whole suite of different certifications depending on building types, including LEED Operations & Maintenance (O&M) which is the closest competitor to WELL. WELL was developed to go deeper into a focus on the interior work environment, the operations, protocols, and initiatives to support wellness programming. LEED O&M does some similar things but hasn’t focused as much on metrics to ensure an end outcome of enhanced employee wellbeing.


The International Well Building Institute (IWBI) describes the process as “The WELL Building Standard® focuses on significantly reducing the most common sources of physiological disruption, distraction and irritation and on enhancing acoustic, ergonomic, olfactory and thermal comfort to prevent stress and injury and facilitate comfort, productivity and well-being” (2).


Obtaining WELL Building certification requires a series of steps that focus on optimizing a building or structural project to benefit people’s health. This includes reducing the potential compromising effects of toxic:


  • Air

  • Water

  • Nourishment

  • Light

  • Movement

  • Thermal comfort

  • Sound

  • Materials

  • Mind

  • Community

  • Innovations


Targeting sound related obstacles and other sources of unhealthy acoustics through WELL Certification is something that could offer a significant impact on several levels. Not only can it affect the current and future wellness of inhabitants but it may also be a surprising business advantage.


A Smart Business Move


Investing in the WELL Building Standard certification is a way to mitigate environmental toxins in both commercial and residential spaces. In doing so, it can improve the health of occupants while creating some business enhancement. This includes attracting potential customers, clients, or even investors that may be visiting your location or are interested in purchasing or renting real estate space that offers a much healthier interior atmosphere.


A less toxic environment means a workforce and clients that experience:

  • Increased productivity

  • Reduced absences

  • Increased job satisfaction

  • More enthusiastic engagement

  • Increased morale under leadership that cares

  • Brand transparency that includes health and wellness. According to past data from the IWBI, over 40% of healthy building owners are using features like dashboards and intranet announcements, displaying a building certification plaque, and [placing on view] signage that either discusses the building features or promotes healthy behaviors (3).


Creating a healthy workspace lets those occupying that space know that surrounding support is authentic. It raises the vibration to a more positive level that, combined with good leadership, can significantly benefit your bottom line. By reducing conspicuous sound and background noise, a unique environment can be attained and FSorb acoustical engineering will certainly get you there.


Reverberation Time


Acoustic solutions for WELL Building Standards are just as essential as addressing airborne toxicity. Noise pollution has been responsible for a host of potential, underlying conditions that, with proper soundproofing, can be properly addressed and alleviated. FSorb is a leader in acoustic solutions, particularly when it comes to Well Building Standard certification including the S04 Sound Absorption credit. This is a unique step as it deals with reverberation time.


WELL certification describes the S04 Sound Absorption credit, “In spaces that incorporate hard surface finish materials, reverberation time and reflected sound energy have the potential to build and create uncomfortable environments... Achieving optimal reverberation times in specific spaces is crucial for designing with acoustical comfort in mind” (4).


Reverberation time presents as an inconspicuous cause of unhealthy acoustics found to negatively affect such things as:


  • Phone conversations on both receiving and/or source ends

  • Create unwanted enhanced speech intelligibility

  • May even interrupt audio/visual equipment


FSorb is able to locate reverberation time and reflected sound energy through the skill of acoustical engineers. Most of our sales reps have been trained in Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC), an example of how sound absorptive finishes are measured to determine their effectiveness for optimal results.


Obtaining a WELL certification S04 Sound Absorption credit means designing a space that looks into the science of acoustic sound reverberation to create beneficial results that have been linked to improving:

  • Critical listening

  • Speech projection

  • Memory retention

  • Speech privacy


Additional WELL Building Credits


With approximately ninety percent of our time spent indoors, the quality of interior sound, as well as airborne health, is essential for productivity and wellness. On the other hand, employers spend about ninety-two percent of their annual operating costs on people, and WELL certification can result in meaningful returns on investment.


FSorb takes all of this into consideration when helping you attain WELL building certification. Out of one hundred WELL certification steps, in addition to the S04 Sound Absorption credit, other sound credit categories that FSorb can address include:

  • Sound Mapping

  • Maximum Noise levels

  • Sound Barriers

  • Sound Masking

  • Impact Noise Management

  • Hearing Health Conservation

This list shows how acoustic solutions are a key factor when working toward WELL certification.



A Word on Sick Building Syndrome


As unhealthy acoustics linger throughout many interior spaces, it is becoming more apparent that such noise disruption is included in what is known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).


SBS is described in an article titled, ‘Sick building syndrome: An overview to raise awareness’, published in Springer Link by researchers from Sheffield Hallam University, Howard Street, Sheffield, UK which stated “Sick building syndrome [is] a syndrome of uncertain etiology consisting of non-specific, mild upper respiratory symptoms (stuffy nose, itchy eyes, sore throat), headache and fatigue, experienced by occupants of ‘sick buildings’; (also) the environmental conditions existing in such a building” (5).


The issue of acoustics is described in this article as “Noise levels within the building can add further stress to occupants, whether the noise is of a low or high level, constant or intermittent, and so on” (5).


The article goes on to describe how symptoms present considerably in ‘open plan’ layouts and completely disappear once occupants leave the building.


FSorb goes above and beyond by embracing a mission of improving human health by creating Eco-friendly acoustic products. By assisting in building aesthetically pleasing spaces while reducing excess ambient noise which, in turn, has shown to calm the human nervous system, FSorb offers affordable, quality, non-toxic solutions that set them apart from the industry standard. We are a company that cares about the full spectrum of doing business, not just the business alone.


 

FSorb

At FSorb, we are motivated by improving human health and do so by creating eco-friendly acoustic products. Our mission is to help designers build beautiful spaces that reduce excess ambient noise while calming the human nervous system. With over 25 years in the acoustic business we stand behind FSorb as a durable, environmentally friendly, and low-cost product. If you want an acoustic solution that is safe to human health at an affordable price, then we are your resource.


info@fsorb.com

(844) 313-7672

f-sorb.com


 

Sources:

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09613218.2019.1710098

  2. https://standard.wellcertified.com/sites/default/files/The%20WELL%20Building%20Standard%20v1%20with%20May%202016%20addenda.pdf

  3. https://resources.wellcertified.com/articles/well-work-the-benefits-of-a-well-certified-office/

  4. https://v2.wellcertified.com/en/v2.1/sound/feature/4

  5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/jba.2009.20



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