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Environmental noise control

Redefining Best Practice in Environmental Noise Control

Think “Best Practicable Means” or “Best Available Technology” in environmental noise control and you will almost certainly end up with our award winning noise reduction technology instead of conventional high cost palliatives such as acoustic enclosures, barriers and silencers.

Get a second opinion on your noise control project – and save 50% – 80% of the cost…

We have developed a range of unique environmental noise control technologies that are widely recognised as defining current best practice. Consequently, we are often retained by public bodies and by industry to provide definitive rulings on what constitutes Best Practical Means (BPM) or Best Available Technology (BAT) for projects where environmental noise is an issue. This not only guarantees compliance with regulatory requirements, but our approach also dramatically reduces capital and running costs and the costs associated with potential project delays or over-runs.

Quiet Fan Noise Reduction Technology

Award winning best practice in fan noise control: improved fan efficiency, lower costs and no maintenance
winner of the rushlight award for innovation in environmental noise control for our fan noise reduction technologyThis unique INVC developed fan noise control technology is BAT for centrifugal fans – the most common environmental noise control problem. It cuts noise and costs by an order of magnitude – permanently and without reducing fan system efficiency (unlike conventional techniques such as silencers). The key benefits are:-

  • low cost: typically 10% – 30% of the cost of attenuators etc
  • efficiency: unlike silencers, no reduction in fan efficiency
  • maintenance: no maintenance required for the life of the fan
  • down-time: can be installed in hours
  • hygiene: there are no hygiene implications
Download environmental noise control technical notes >


Best Practicable Means (BPM) / Best Available Technology (BAT) Environmental Noise Control Audit

The BPM / BAT Audit provides you with a definitive assessment of the environmental noise control options for any noise problem using the best of current technology. Extensive experience has shown that, in most cases, the noise reduction technology suggested by consultants is not best practice. The fact that our BPM definitions typically reduce noise control costs by 50% – 80% compared with alternative evaluations has changed the rules of the game. The audit process involves the following steps:-

  • Contact us early for an initial opinion – email us information
  • Report review – we can review data and reports and give an expert opinion on content and conclusions
  • Diagnosis and BPM evaluation – acquire more detailed information as required; provide you with an assessment of the noise control options using current Best Available Technology with costs and noise reductions. This is definitive evidence of what constitutes best practice to solve the problem
  • Court cases – in virtually every case, the above process avoids the court as the noise control costs are so much lower than expected

Low Frequency Noise Nuisance – Diagnosis and Control

Low frequency (LF) noise is often rightly considered to be one of the more challenging environmental noise problems. It can also be the cause of much angst and can become a truly remarkable time-waster…. We have developed a simple three stage procedure and set of diagnostic tools that have proven to be very effective to identify: first – whether there is an objective noise problem: second – if there is, what is the source: third: – what is the best solution?

This procedure typically reduces the time required to identify and resolve low frequency noise problems from weeks, months or years down to a few days. We have also developed some novel solutions, including “Psychological Psylencing” (or acoustic camouflage).

Psylencer – Psychological Silencing – Acoustic Camouflage

This is an innovative, low cost solution to a range of difficult environmental noise problems where sound with “character” could cause or has caused complaints. It can either be used in conjunction with noise control measures or where noise control would be too expensive or impractical.

Based on research into the subjective response of people to noise characteristics, the Psychological Silencing system generates bespoke sound with a sculpted signature that “camouflages” the nuisance features in the noise from the perception of potential complainants. Once initial set-up and calibration testing has been carried out, the sound signature is designed and an array of loud-speakers used to generate a diffuse sound field with the right characteristics and amplitude for the particular environment.

It is a strange experience, encountering sound that you don’t consciously hear making those that you found annoying simply disappear…

Edgware Road Station – nighttime track maintenance
From regular complaints – to less than zero complaints…

As the station is overlooked by apartments, nighttime noise from underground track maintenance activities had given rise to regular complaints. The contractor, Balfour Beatty, decided to be proactive by introducing our new technology.

The solution involved relocating welfare facilities to take advantage of existing site screening features coupled with temporary acoustic barriers – not just for the facilities, but also for the vehicles and workforce at the station entrance. A pair of Psychological Silencing systems were installed at the station entrance and the welfare area. Despite being inaudible the other side of the street, these systems were very successful at camouflaging the site noise. The combined effect: not just zero complaints, but emails from a previous complainant complimenting the company on the effectiveness of their noise management.

Download environmental noise control technical notes >


Best Practice in Environmental Noise Control + Free Occupational Noise Benefits…

Corrugator noise control at source eliminates both noise nuisance and PPE – and reduces costs by 80%…
corrugator slitter environmental source tonal noise control instead of acoustic enclosure or barriersThe highly tonal noise from corrugators and slitters at Northern Packaging, the premiere packaging company in the north of England, had caused complaints from local residents and was subject to an abatement notice. The company had been quoted £150,000 for conventional environmental noise control (building modifications) but with no guarantee that it would solve the problem. An EHO who had been on one of our BAT courses suggested that we might have an alternative approach. Following a best practice audit, we developed noise control at source engineering modifications to cut the noise generated by the corrugator and slitter machines inside the building. Installed by Sound Damped Steel, these not only reduced the problem tonal noise by up to 9dB, but also eliminated the requirement for mandatory PPE – a double benefit. In addition, the cost was only c£25,000, an 80% saving over the proposed conventional noise control methods.Corrugator-noise-control

This is a typical example of the success of our approach to environmental noise problems, re-defining noise control best practice by developing elegant engineering solutions in place of the high cost, conventional palliatives usually considered. Moreover, to the delight of the company, the project also satisfied their mandatory noise control requirements under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations – at no added cost. This approach should be standard practice for environmental noise pollution problems. Controlling noise at source is always the first step in the process of defining BAT or BPM.

Lifting a Fan Abatement Notice
Approaching £50000 had been spent on silencing two large, roof mounted fans in an attempt to satisfy local complainants and the authorities – unfortunately without success. Our initial diagnosis was made remotely from the sound-track of a video shot by the company. This allowed us to design our unique Quiet Fan technology aerodynamic inserts that reduced the noise by over 20dB at source without enclosures, silencers or lagging – permanently and without maintenance. This was achieved with minimal down-time and at a tiny fraction of the cost of conventional alternatives. Read more on centrifugal fan noise control – without attenuators. fan-noise-control

Server Chiller Farm – £100k wasted on noise control
chiller and air handling unit (AHU) noise control for server farmAn Abatement Notice was issued re a large array of chillers. The company had already spent nearly £100k on noise control with very little success and were considering claiming BPM in court – the council suggested they might like to get a second opinion….

We guaranteed BPM and reduced the plant noise by 15dB at less than half the previously expected cost. If used in the first place, the company would have saved over £100k, the council would have saved resources and the complainants would not have had to suffer unnecessary disturbance over a 2 year period. More on chiller noise reduction.

Brown Field Site Development – noise control makes 200 houses possible
Environmental noise levels (dominated by nearby industrial fans) over 18 acres of mixed brown-field and farmland had been assessed as unsuitable for housing. However, the City Council was aware of our expertise in fan noise control (without silencers) and suggested that the Planning Consultants contact us for a second opinion. The developers paid for the implementation of our Quiet Fan noise control technology on the problem fans in each of the 4 companies which permanently eliminated the environmental noise problem. This allowed 200 properties to be built on a site previously considered too noisy for housing at a cost to the developers of less than £45k.

Tunnel Boring – Low Frequency Environmental Noise and Vibration Control
tunnel shaft environmental noise reductionLocal residents were complaining about low frequency noise and vibration from a large tunnel operation which also exceeded the overall planning consent noise levels. The low frequency noise/vibration was generated by the spoil processing vibratory sieves and the proposed remedial measures included a deep ditch and a very large barrier. Detailed diagnosis showed that the main problem was caused by excitation of some of the steel building wall and roof panels. These were de-tuned quickly and cheaply which reduced the 15Hz noise radiation by 8dB – sufficient to prevent further complaints.

Press Shop – Environmental Noise Control Problems
environmental power press shop noise and vibration control at sourceComplaints about press noise from a factory unit had resulted in an Abatement Notice. After the company had spent £12000 on the building to no avail (and with another £65000 expenditure planned), the INVC Best Practicable Means (BPM) Noise Control Audit for the Local Authority proved that the best solution was to treat the presses at source. This not only reduced the low frequency components by 9-24dB, but also reduced the cost by c 85%.

Combined Heat and Power Station Planning and Environmental Noise Reduction
A new CHP installation on a large industrial site next to a housing estate was subject to very stringent planning constraints with respect to noise. A full impact assessment was made and, in conjunction with both the supplier and the Local Authority, a detailed noise specification drawn-up for all components of the installation. We not only produced the noise specifications, but also detailed engineering noise control measures for the CHP installation. The cost of the overall noise control measures was cut by approaching 90% by reducing the noise from other sources on the site (fans, compressors, pumps, gas mains ..) at the nearest dwelling by 8dB(A) through engineering source control techniques.

Burner and Combustion Noise Control at Source

Conventional noise control techniques such as stack silencers and converting buildings into acoustic enclosures involve costs that would make a hardened accountant weep! Our new technology can often reduce the noise from these sources at a fraction of the cost of traditional noise control measures and with virtually no disruption or down-time.

Dual Fuel Burner Noise Reduction – natural yoghurt based control 
combustion noise control at source on this industrial burnerThe cause of complaints about environmental noise levels was traced to this dual fuel burner on a Heinz site. The company contacted us to assess the noise control options. The source was diagnosed as a 116Hz low frequency “drone” – a very common type of burner noise control problem – with a stunning simple solution. The conventional palliative noise control techniques for this sort of problem involve fitting large silencers into the stack and converting the boiler house into an acoustic enclosure – eye-wateringly expensive with extensive down-time (which would have caused serious production problems).burner before and after

yoghurt based combustion burner noise controlOur alternative solution was a set of aerodynamic modifications fitted inside the combustion head. The initial trials were conducted using an adapted yoghurt pot fitted inside the combustion head – the only known yoghurt-based noise control application…. This reduced the drone by 16dB, completely eliminating the problem. The cost? Less than £2k with a down-time of a few hours. This new approach and technology is an incredibly cost effective solution to many burner or combustion noise problems.

Quarry Noise Control
environmental noise reduction from a quarryA detailed environmental noise impact assessment established 24 hour target noise levels for a new quarry. This was supported by predictions of the changes in the local noise environment throughout the working life of the quarry and a detailed compliance verification procedure. Detailed noise purchasing specifications were provided for every piece of plant installed in the quarry. These included the measurement procedures and the noise control measures that should be used to ensure that the target noise levels were met as cost effectively as possible.

Department of Environment and Transport Road Scheme
Road traffic noise assessments and traffic / construction noise impact modelling prediction for many road schemes throughout the UK over a period of 20 years. These have also included determining the properties eligible for noise insulation and providing and presenting detailed evidence at the Public Inquiries.

Scrap Impact Noise Control
£250 000 cost saving on environmental noise control…
noise control on scrap impacts using rugged, high performance vibration dampingWe saved a scrap recycling company over £250 000 on noise barriers by controlling the scrap impact noise at source. This is new technology that can reduce the impact noise from crushers in quarries, dump trucks, shredders, trains, manual handling etc by up to 15dB(A). Compared with conventional noise control techniques, the cost is miniscule, it is incredibly rugged and has no effect on plant operation, maintenance or access.metalimpacts

Download environmental noise control technical notes >


A complete range of noise and vibration services for the construction, demolition and infrastructure industries

environmental noise and vibration control from demolition of pile cap at the Shard siteWe not only provide a complete range of conventional services covering all aspects of environmental and occupational noise and vibration for the construction, demolition and infrastructure maintenance industries, but also a range of additional innovative management and control techniques based on our unique engineering expertise. These are not only re-defining what constitutes best practice under the regulations and standards, but are also dramatically reducing project costs and delays. Our reputation is based on the results we have achieved from introducing new procedures and techniques into a largely traditional industry.

INVC innovations that provide better, more cost effective options…

  • SiteNoise Web Portal – EHO friendly – reduce data management and reporting time
    automated noise, vibration and dust reporting + management tools; stores and plots all data from any source, providing controlled access to current and historical values from anywhere
  • VAT Analysis (Vibration Analysis of Transmission) – control transmitted vibration
    rapid evaluation of transfer paths from plant to party walls; evaluating party wall “bridging”; plant operation “zoning” eliminates guesswork, maximising productivity and reducing costs. This is a technique to determine the transfer function between the vibration fed into a structure at any point and the resultant vibration in a party wall or another structure. Rapid detection of bridging between party walls. Zone areas by allowable vibration – light and heavy breaker zones etc. Eliminates guesswork, speeds work. Facilitates optimum placement of vibration break cuts. Evaluation of building resonances – potential nuisance
  • Mitigation and Noise Control – fewer complaints, extended working hours…
    we have developed new technologies and techniques that can reduce noise levels by 5 – 10dB more than typical conventional measures – sometimes sufficient to allow extended working hours
  • Psychological Silencing – acoustic camouflage, hiding nuisance noise, reducing complaints
    sculpted sound signatures that can sometimes hide site noise cheaply and quickly. Acoustic Camouflage makes use of specially designed artificial background sound to hide nuisance noise. This has been used very successfully on rail and construction projects to reduce or eliminate complaints about certain noise nuisance noise elements.
  • PR and Multi-Media Presentations – changing perceptions, reducing complaints
    interactive demonstrations to inform and reassure stakeholders reduces the perception of nuisance and therefore the likelihood of future complaints. These are designed to inform and reassure stakeholders in the area who may be affected by projects. Extensive experience has shown that presentations using multi-media and interactive demonstrations to demystify noise and vibration are a very effective part of the process to reduce the likelihood of complaints. Presentation of the information and the way residents are involved and educated has a very substantial impact on their subjective impression of noise and vibration from the programme.
  • Technical Training Workshops – improving best practice expertise on site
    technical training for site personnel in measurement and management best practices. These modular one or two day courses are targeted at site managers, supervisors, planning engineers plus safety and environmental staff. It provides them with the technical and practical background required to create and implement plans to meet Best Practical means (BPM) noise and vibration management requirements to minimise the likelihood of complaints from local residents. This combined technical briefing and workshop is designed to provide a practical and pragmatic guide to managing noise and vibration from infrastructure and construction sites including Section 61 applications. Other options include short briefings up to full competency.
Download environmental noise control technical notes >

SiteNoise Web Portal – Noise – Vibration – Dust – Project Management…

Reduce the cost of environmental data management and reporting

environmental noise log plotSiteNoise is a web portal that stores and displays site environmental data and other information in a single location with controlled access from anywhere. This dramatically reduces the time and resources required to manage and access data and can virtually eliminate reporting requirements.

Reporting – faster, better and lower costenvironmental vibration log plot
Provide controlled log-in access to parts of the site for EHOs so they can access all past data from their desks. This eliminates most reporting requirements.

Complaints – instant evaluation
Friday, late afternoon: complaint about noise last Monday. Log-on, scroll to date, pick off time and level, correlate with other monitors and with activity. Decide on action required. Done.environmental dust log plot

Stakeholder Information and PR
online multi-media letter drop and newsletter
SiteNoise can include a work schedule calendar and pictures / video / project blog which are accessible to residents etc. – dramatically lower cost and more easily updated than printed media.

Visualising Monitor Data
SiteNoise can store and display data from any make of monitor and display monitor location maps.