Continuing Education for Architects & Interior Designers
Understanding the Technology of Sound Masking for Every Office Space
In this course, you will explore one of today’s most cost-effective and flexible methods of delivering an office environment that promotes both productivity and well-being, through achieving the perfect balance between employees’ need for privacy, concentration, and acoustic comfort: sound masking.
Firstly, you’ll fully understand why conversations are so easily overheard in most of today’s office spaces and how architectural acoustic design plays a vital role in controlling the transmission of sound within open and closed floor plans. Then, you will learn how sound masking is scientifically proven to enhance performance and wellness of employees by increasing speech privacy and significantly reducing common office distractions.
At last, you will learn how to specify and choose the right sound masking technology, so as to easily implement it in different work environments, regardless of office size and layout.
- Understand the basic science behind sound, and how it impacts the health, wellness, focus and productivity of office workers.
- Understand the concept of sound masking and the concrete benefits this technology can bring to any office work environment.
- Become comfortable with the key aspects of specifying a sound masking system as well as calculating the costs and return on investment.
- Understand how sound masking improves the acoustics of Green Buildings without compromising their core virtues and aesthetics.
Approved Continuing Education Learning Units
This course is registered with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC) for continuing education credits. Your learning credits will also be recognized by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), International Interior Designers Association (IIDA), Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) and National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).
Studies are finding that the majority of employees dislike their work environment despite the ever-popular workplace wellness buzz.
In fact, an extensive international study by IPSOS, a global market research and consulting firm, found that 85% of office workers are dissatisfied with their working environments and have a hard time concentrating on their tasks. This strongly correlates with the fact that open floor plans have become the norm. Afterall, open offices are not only much cheaper to build but also break down silo mentality while encouraging team collaboration in a highly flexible way.
Meanwhile, this opportunity to work more closely with colleagues comes at the cost of less personal space, less oral privacy and more distractions stealing our focus away. So what does the average office worker has to deal with during work hours?
- What are some of the most expressed complaints? Too many distractions, not enough privacy.
- Office workers lose up to 86 minutes a day due to interruptions. For the most part, these interruptions are caused by loud conversations, ringtones, keyboard clicks, printer noises, mobile notifications etc..
- Several studies show the negative impacts of workplace distractions on mental health and… workplace absenteeism.
The correlation between employee well-being and performance is extremely well documented. Meanwhile, what’s often overlooked is how some of the key well-being contributing factors strongly depend on acoustics:
- Being able to focus on cognitively demanding tasks, distraction-free.
- Being comfortable to discuss sensitive information without being overheard across the entire office space.
- Being able to collaborate effectively with colleagues on the spot, without disturbing neighboring workstations.
- Vibrations and sound waves: amplitude and frequency
- How loud and how quiet some of the noises that surround us really are
- Measuring sound levels: Decibel (dB) versus weighted Decibel A (dBA)
- What is fragmented noise and why is it detrimental?
Architects and interior designers are increasingly turning to sound masking to override sounds that can’t be absorbed or blocked by common design elements such as carpeting, acoustical wall panels, ceiling panels or partitions. They are also finding that sound masking significantly reduces the need for plenum barriers, insulation, and extra drywall layers in closed offices.
- How does sound propagation influence the way you build?
- Considering the ABC‘s of acoustic design: Absorb, Block and Cover
- How Cover (C) is the most cost-effective and flexible way to achieve optimal acoustic environment.
- Since construction of heavier walls to block noise can be expensive, sound masking is the best alternative for achieving proper speech privacy.
How many times have you overheard conversations in the office? Or better yet, how many times have you felt like others were listening to your conversations? Can the words being spoken inside a closed office be heard outside? How private is your private office?
- Quantifying the intelligibility of conversations using the SII index
- Assessing the speech privacy provided by a closed room using the SPC index
- Understanding Sound Transmission Class (STC)
- All areas with an SII index higher than 20% should consider sound masking
Post occupancy evaluations conducted by the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at the University of California, Berkeley revealed that green building acoustics are typically worse than their traditional counterparts. Why is that?
- Natural ventilation, day lighting, radiant heating and cooling, lightweight steel frames, etc. all lead to poor architectural acoustics.
- Reduced indoor/outdoor sound isolation, and more acoustically reflective surfaces such as glass, wood, and brick mean less opportunities for sound absorption.
- Less HVAC noise may be a good thing but it also means that office conversations are more easily overheard.
- Emitting a soft, inconspicuous background sound to make office sound level more uniform and speech less intelligible.
- Making undesirable conversations and noisy distractions less audible to improve employee concentration and productivity.
- Sound masking VS noise cancelling technology: learning the key differences and limitations.
- In what conditions should sound masking be considered? (minimum privacy levels, minimum background noise levels).
- Open and closed offices (Eliminating distractions, Improving focus, Improving error rates/accuracy, Reducing stress).
- Hospitals and medical facilities (Enhancing sleep quality of patients, Achieving compliance with HIPAA requirements at a lower cost).
- Recommended sound absorbing material and ceiling design
- Recommended minimum plenum height
- Best alternatives when no plenum space or access is available
- Calculating the cost and ROI of sound masking
- Understanding the concept of Acoustic Room Response.
- Plenum-mounted sound masking speakers VS direct in-ceiling speakers: distinguishing marketing hype from measurable performance.
- The advantages of choosing a fully integrated software.
- Acoustical calibration based on the unique attributes of the space covered.
- How adaptive controls are necessary in a dynamic office space where the volume of noisy distractions vary constantly.
- How the sound masking volume can automatically self-adjust based on the fluctuating background noise levels.
Two Convenient Ways to Learn About Sound Masking
Why Should I Take This Course About Sound Masking?
Why shouldn’t you take this course? It’s 100% free and you can take it at your convenience from the comfort of your home. It’s 100% objective as in we’re not going to try to sell you our system or anything: we’re passionate acousticians first, sound masking system supplier second. Solving noise problems is all we do and we’re best at what we do. More importantly, this course is an opportunity to raise your game in architectural acoustics while gaining valuable insights into the most advanced sound masking technology available today.
Licensed architects must earn continuing education credits each year to fulfill AIA membership requirements. AIA measures continuing education in Learning Units (LUs). One hour of continuing education equals one LU. AIA Architect members must complete 18 LUs each year. Of the 18 LUs, 12 must be in the topic areas of health, safety and welfare (HSW). This course will give you 1 LU (1.0 hour) in the area of health, safety and welfare (HSW).
Both the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and International Interior Designers Association (IIDA) require professional and associate members to complete at least 10 hours of continuing education every 2 years to retain membership. This course will count for 1 CEU (1 hour) valid toward your ASID or IIDA education membership requirement.
It’s About Designing for Wellness
Future Workplace and View recently surveyed 1601 workers to understand which wellness perks matter to them most and how these perks impact their productivity. What do you think they want more than anything? They want the basics first: better air quality, natural light, and distraction-free rooms where they can comfortably focus on their work…
In fact, noise distractions bothered more than a third of office workers surveyed, negatively impacting their ability to focus on their everyday tasks. Disruptive sounds like phones ringing, typing on keyboards, and conversations among coworkers all significantly impaired their concentration. Sound masking technology is all about helping these office workers. In particular, it’s about the following, all too often overlooked, well-being contributing factors:
- Being able to concentrate on cognitively demanding tasks, distraction-free.
- Feeling comfortable discussing private, sensitive information with managers and select teammates without being overheard across the entire office space.
- Being able to collaborate and communicate effectively with colleagues without disturbing neighboring workstations.
It’s About Designing for Economy and Efficiency
Sound masking can help you achieve more with less. More privacy and confidentiality with less need for plenum barriers, soundproof doors and extra drywall layers (on average, construction costs can be reduced by $3 per square foot). Better room acoustics without the need to rethink what’s already working great in your design, whether in terms of sustainability, flexibility or pure aesthetics. More employee productivity without requestioning the open concept workspace, which is here to stay and grow whether we love or hate it.
It Can Help You Earn More LEED® Points
Green construction is about incorporating both environmental and employee well-being into your projects. Green buildings with high indoor environmental quality protect the health and comfort of occupants and boost employee productivity, while improving the property value. In LEED certification, the Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) credit category rewards design decisions made about indoor air quality, as well as thermal, visual and… acoustic comfort.
Under LEED v4, projects aiming for certification can earn 2 points toward the Acoustic Performance credit in the EQ section of the Interior Design and Construction rating system, and earn 1 point in the new Building Design and Construction system.
Designing for healhcare? Sound masking can help you earn 1 point by achieving superior speech privacy, acoustical comfort of patients, and minimal annoyance from noisy ward equipment. In all cases, to ensure optimal acoustic performance of spaces, LEED v4 not only recommends the use of sound-absorbing materials, but also outright encourages the use of sound masking technology.
What If I Don’t Need Continuing Education Credits?
Learning shouldn’t be just about hitting some credit quota. It should be about becoming a stronger professional and finding new ways to add value to your clients. Perhaps you already have all the learning credits you need. Maybe you aren’t an AIA, IIDA, ASID or NARI member. Maybe you’re not an architect or interior designer in the first place. You may be a general contractor, a facility manager, an EHS manager, or an AV specialist. Perhaps you’re simply a professional who wishes to learn about sound masking technology in the context of delivering better workspace acoustics… In all cases, feel free to take our course right here, no registration and personal information needed, by watching the video down below:
Sound Masking for Today’s Office Space: The Whats, Whys & Hows
Need Help With Your Future Office Projects?
Our advanced sound masking technology will help you increase productivity in your workspace by reducing noisy distractions and providing opportunities for privacy and focus. A comfortable office positively impacts employee mood, drive and performance.