News

CGA and LEED

June 20, 2014

The role of acoustics is becoming increasingly important in sustainable design projects seeking LEED certification.  As an acoustical consultant, Colin Gordon Associates is now bringing “more to the table” with regard to this process. 

While in the past the acoustical design could only be used to indirectly help achieve LEED credits in areas such as Energy and Atmosphere (EA) or Materials and Resources (MR), recent additions to the LEED certification program directly address the importance of acoustics and noise control to the overall health and well being of building occupants and the surrounding environment.  Additionally, recent studies have indicated that acoustic performance is the only aspect of indoor environmental quality that is rated lower in LEED/Green buildings than in standard design.  This further emphasizes the need for addressing acoustics in LEED projects.    

Acoustic credits are now available in most LEED disciplines, including New Construction, Schools, and Healthcare.  If considered early enough in the process, good acoustical design can help a project attain multiple additional LEED credits, both directly and indirectly.   

The following LEED credits are available that relate directly to acoustics:

New Construction:

  • Acoustic Performance (LEED 2009 Pilot Credit 24/LEED v4 EQ Credit: Acoustic Performance)
  • Enhanced Acoustical Performance – Exterior Noise Control (Pilot Credit 57, available under LEED 2009 and LEED v4)

Healthcare:             

  • Acoustic Performance (EQ Credit: Acoustical Performance, 1-2 credits available under LEED 2009 and LEED v4)
  • Enhanced Acoustical Performance – Exterior Noise Control (Pilot Credit 57, available under LEED 2009 and LEED v4)

Schools:                  

  • Minimal Acoustical Performance Prerequisite (EQ Prerequisite required under LEED 2009 and LEED v4)
  • Enhanced Acoustical Performance (EQ Credit: Enhanced Acoustical Performance, available under LEED 2009 and LEED v4)
  • Enhanced Acoustical Performance – Exterior Noise Control (Pilot Credit 57, available under LEED 2009 and LEED v4)

Homes/Mid-Rise:   

  • Acoustic Comfort (Pilot Credit 47, available under LEED 2009 and LEED v4, prescriptive and performance based requirement options)

The credits above contain criteria for background noise levels, sound isolation, reverberation, and other basic acoustical parameters.  The exterior noise control pilot credit requires that the site noise levels be documented prior to construction, and contains requirements for the exterior noise generated by new equipment based on these measured levels. 

Many of the requirements contained in these credits are similar to our typical recommendations and other typical project acoustical criteria.  Most of the additional effort required to achieve the credits related to interior noise, beyond what is typically required for a project where acoustics are a priority, involves generating additional documentation. 

LEED requires that documentation of calculations, test data, and other items be submitted as a part of the certification process in order to achieve these credits.  The level of documentation required is beyond what would typically be provided on a project, particularly for the interior noise requirements.

CGA has LEED Accredited Professionals on staff and has worked on numerous projects that have achieved LEED certification.  (Many are research facilities, and five of our projects have achieved LEED Platinum.)  Steven Lank, LEED AP, oversees CGA’s efforts in LEED.

We are familiar with the criteria for each LEED acoustical credit available and the documentation required to obtain them.  We can provide assistance in achieving these credits if desired.