AVO Design Guide Overview and Scope

19 Mar 2020

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.

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Figure 1 Typical activity of the acoustician in developing the design (Figure B-1 from the AVO Design guide)

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