ZERO NOISE - HOMES BY THE HIGHWAY
A common grouse of residents of houses by the highway is that while they are proud of their abodes, they wish something could be done to cut the noise around. In the case of some occupants, when they built their homes, they looked forward to retirement years in the calm oasis of the structure.
Years later, the city started bursting at its seams and expanded beyond limits, and flyovers and expressways were built. These swamped their tiny oasis leaving their house located now on the arterial road! Facing the brunt of the city noise at all odd hours and speeding traffic is just not something to be fatalistic about. Modifications to the home, both structural and non-structural, can come to the rescue of a homeowner for homes located near the highway or expressway. These modi fications can go a long way in noise reduction for the home.
Structural modifications entail plugging the weak links in the home.Since windows are one of such areas through which the highway noise filters in most, these need to be addressed first.
Acoustic sound barriers in the form of strong windows need to be installed. While doing so, the STC rating or “Sound transmission Class Rating“ of the window needs to be kept in mind. The higher the STC rating, the better the window is, in terms of protecting the home from outside noise.
The STC rating signifies the level of noise reduction or sound attenuation as the sound passes through the insulating material. Typically, a dualpaned window with air-cavity insulation in between will have a higher STC rating than a single pane. Some special window glasses are geared at total noise cancellation.
There should also be no broken walls. Any break in the wall translates to noise coming in. Such spaces should be plugged with sound dampening elements.
Doors are also areas that let in sound from outside. Many apartment home doors are hollow doors.Replacing these with solid wood can help reduce noise coming in. Another option can be adding an additional layer of plywood on both sides of the door to help decrease its vulnerability to noise transmission. For rooms on the outer side and closer to the road, the doors can be further fortified by plugging the space below them with rubber seals.
Walls are another area that can be modified. Adding stiffness and mass to the wall helps block out unwanted noise. Adding cavity walls with air insulation in between can also help.While high-mass masonry or reinforced walls help in sound insula tion, there are sever al newer aids avail able today due to the advances made in building science and construction.
These ought to be deployed to in crease the stiffness and rigidity of the structure without very heavy construction for sound damping. Gypsum boards and rubber or neoprene gaskets can be introduced between the floor and the frame to increase sound insulation of the building.
The housing society or apartment complex can be also made noise proof by adding a tall layer of boundary wall. Tall trees that remain green throughout the year like conifer and ashoka can be planted on the outer periphery of the wall. The boundary wall can also be used as an aesthetic noise-cancelling feature by using bougainvillea or other trailing creepers that block view increasing privacy for occupants as well as muffle the sounds from outside.
Earth Berms or mounds of earth running parallel to the boundary wall and along the highway are another way of reducing the noise effect. The height of the earth berm will depend on the construction laws in the area.
As part of non-structural modifications, green areas at home can help reduce noise while cutting the effects of pollution. Roof and balcony gardens are in vogue. These act as an additional noise barrier while providing a patch of visual green beauty.
Traffic growth is imminent as the city spreads and a burgeoning population adds pressure on the city roads. Thus, noise pollution is a reality that most houses face and modifications to living spaces can be introduced to enjoy a less noisy life in the Big City!