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Noise and vibration comfort in lightweight buildings

Building with prefabricated, lightweight elements is sustainable due to the limited use of materials as well as comfortable for residents. Lightweight building systems are quick to assemble and flexible when changes of use occur. High noise and vibration performance can be realised through manipulating the low-rise construction and details. TNO's calculation models predict transfer of noise and vibrations through different layers and modular hub.

Tougher heat insulation requirements require thicker walls and heavier floors. An alternative to more weight is a different construction: a steel or timber construction with individual, prefabricated elements like floors and walls. Modern prefab shells are much more efficient than traditional cavity walls. The combination of sheet and insulation material enables the heat to be retained better and so the building's shell can be made thinner. For designers and builders lighter building has many benefits. It is easier to extend or modify existing buildings, there is more design freedom, the quality of the material is guaranteed by factory-quality production and rapid assembly means that building takes less time. In addition to these constructive and logistical gains, the environment also benefits: the transport of lightweight parts costs less energy, use of prefab elements causes less building waste, and steel, plaster and glass wool are fully recyclable.

Playing with layers

A building system with individual elements has the advantage that you can achieve excellent noise performance by the intelligent application of the elements. For instance, by laying a 'floating' floor covering on a bearing floor separated by glass wool. And by placing a new ceiling that is not in contact with the original ceiling. This separates them acoustically and the vibrations do not get through. Particularly effective is a fully 'box-in-box' construction that is not in contact anywhere with the existing construction.

Noise and vibration performance

Lightweight structures are two to three times as light as stone and concrete structures, and this makes them more susceptible to noise and vibrations, so extra attention must be paid to the 'modular hub', the place where floors and roofs, walls and shells come together. TNO studies into noise and vibration performance of lightweight building systems reveal that light systems are very capable of complying with the increasing demands for comfort. TNO has developed calculation models that can accurately predict the transfer of noise and vibrations. These models have been validated to measurements in existing buildings and test assemblies. These TNO calculation models help architects, engineers and acoustic consultants to design comfortable homes and buildings.

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lightweight building systems, the calculation models and reference projects

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