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AVO Design Guide Overview and Scope

19 March 2020 | 3 min read

Following the launch of the Acoustic, Ventilation and Overheating (AVO) Design Guide earlier this year, Phil Evans, Senior Director, looks at how it can help residential developers produce more energy efficient homes.

Produced after almost two years of research, and launched by the Association of Noise Consultant’s the guide provides a resource for practitioners and designers looking to balance the interdependence of noise, ventilation and overheating in the acoustic assessment of new residential developments. It suggests an integrated approach to sustainable design for both thermal and acoustic comfort in working and living spaces. In light of climate change, increased urbanisation, the growth of heat islands and the need for residential developments in noisy urban environments (close to motorways, airports, industrial facilities, etc.) that would otherwise be undesirable, this guidance is both timely and necessary.

Aimed at new residential developments, exposed predominantly to airborne sound from transportation sources, and to sound from internal mechanical services, its coverage is limited to England; but the approach much more widely applicable to other parts of the UK.

A new approach

The issue is a pressing one that unfortunately can’t be addressed with a “one-size fits all” approach. Sound insulation and the design of the external building envelope to protect against outdoor sound ingress has historically been considered separately from the ventilation and overheating strategies.

However, a fragmented design approach can result in accommodation that is uncomfortable for occupants and consequently may be unsustainable. In addition, increased reliance on air conditioning and mechanically assisted ventilation – necessary if windows need to be kept closed against sound – goes against the Government’s policy on sustainability.

“Before this guide was published, the acoustics consultant and the ventilation and overheating consultant often worked without interaction” comments Phil Evans. “This meant conflicting requirements for natural ventilation and noise control occurred on a number of projects. The guide encourages a more holistic approach and will ensure the design reflects all requirements; importantly minimising costs and programme for the client”.

Looking at the link between AVO, the guide sets out the range of potential acoustic criteria and guidance on different ventilation and overheating conditions for both environmental noise ingress and building services noise. The guidance demonstrates how to achieve good acoustic design as described in the ProPG: Planning & Noise, May 2017. As with the ProPG, it is anticipated that local authorities, as well as consultants, will welcome this guide to assist to provide sustainable developments and enhance health and wellbeing, particularly in urban areas.

How we can help

Involving an acoustician early in the design stage, working in conjunction with the ventilation and overheating consultant where applicable, will ensure a unified approach. By doing this adverse noise effects and a balanced consideration of ventilation and overheating will be outlined during the design stage; saving time and money as the development progresses.

Get in touch with our acoustics team to find out how we can help your development.

39 - Aoustics Web Diagram.jpg
Figure 1 Typical activity of the acoustician in developing the design (Figure B-1 from the AVO Design guide)

About RPS

Founded in 1970, RPS, A Tetra Tech Company (RPS) is a leading global professional services firm of 5,000 consultants and service providers. Operating in 125 countries, working across six continents we define, design and manage projects that create shared value to a complex, urbanising and resource-scarce world.

RPS delivers a broad range of services in six sectors: property, energy, transport, water, defence and government services and resources. Services provided across RPS' six sectors cover twelve service clusters: project and program management, design and development, water services, environment, advisory and management consulting, exploration and development, planning and approvals, health, safety and risk, oceans and coastal, laboratories, training and communications, creative and digital services.

RPS stands out for its clients by using its deep expertise to solve problems that matter, making them easy to understand. Making complex easy.

For further information, please visit www.rpsgroup.com.

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