Acoustics and Wellness Go Hand in Hand: Here’s Why

Wellness was already a growing trend before COVID, and now it’s going mainstream as people return to offices, hotels, and all those spaces where we used to gather. Helping the public acclimate to being indoors together again, the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) has enlisted a star-studded roster of influencers for a public awareness campaign about safe buildings.

IWBI’s television commercials, which started airing in January 2021, were directed by Spike Lee with Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Michael B. Jordan, Robert DeNiro, Venus Williams, Wolfgang Puck, Deepak Chopra, and the 17th U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona.

Their timely message is: “Look for the WELL Health-Safety Seal. Seeing the Seal outside means you can feel safer going inside.”

The WELL Health-Safety Rating for buildings examines 22 features across five core areas: Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures, Emergency Preparedness Programs, Health Service Resources, Air and Water Quality Management, and Stakeholder Engagement and Communication. A minimum of 15 criteria must be met to achieve the rating and be awarded the WELL Health-Safety seal.

IWBI’s campaign has opened a broad conversation about wellness in the built environment—and that’s good news.

When the public thinks of wellness, they don’t immediately think about acoustics. But acoustics are included in The WELL Building Standard under requirements designed to create distraction-free, productive, and comfortable indoor environments.

Research has established the connection between comfort and acoustics. In fact, there is evidence that prolonged exposure to noise is damaging to human health because it causes a psychological stress response in the body.

“There are well-established links between long-term exposure to noise and coronary illness and stroke, as well as stress, high blood pressure and other conditions. The noise in question does not have to be overwhelmingly loud: research shows that the danger level is just 65 dB [quieter than a home dishwasher], which is often achieved in lively offices and especially in social spaces like cafés and canteens,” according to an Interface study.

Research has shown that even intermittent exposure to loud noises can result in negative health outcomes like long-term stress hormone levels and hypertension.

Noise is the enemy in interior spaces, but total silence is not the end goal. The true objective is to reduce unwanted reverberation. This is the key to creating the most acoustically comfortable environments. Snowsound acoustic technology improves sound by absorbing reverberation.

Some manufacturers boast that their acoustic panels are most absorptive at higher frequencies. But when it comes to interior spaces, the focus needs to be on the mid-range frequencies (the higher frequencies are already being absorbed by objects and people in the room), which are generated by people and therefore the main source of noise.

Snowsound technology is entirely unique because the panels provide up to 94% of mid-range absorption, which includes those speech frequencies that create distractions and lower productivity. Unlike felt and PET products, Snowsound selectively absorbs sound across all frequencies, which creates balanced sound and acoustic comfort.

As remaining COVID restrictions are lifted, organizations that connect the dots between comfort, acoustics and the WELL Health-Safety Rating will help reassure the public that their safety and wellbeing come first. And they will provide spaces that allow people to feel safe and protected, while learning, healing, or working as well as possible.

Learn more about the vital role that acoustics play in the design of healthy, functional environments while earning continuing education units. Take Snowsound's IDCEC-approved course "Acoustics: The Sound of Well-Being, Engagement and Productivity."

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment