Building acoustic requirements and classification schemes in Europe: Is harmonization possible?

Rasmussen, B. (Speaker)

Activity: Talks and presentationsTalks and presentations in private or public companies


Building acoustic requirements exist in more than 30 countries in Europe. Classification schemes exist at present in 9 countries. In some countries, sound insulation requirements have existed since the 1950s. The first classification schemes for dwellings were implemented in the early 1990s.
Comparative studies of regulatory sound insulation requirements in 24 countries in Europe and sound classi-fication schemes in 9 countries are described in [1], [2], [3] and [4]. Sound insulation descriptors, regulatory requirements and classification schemes in Europe represent a high degree of diversity. Unfortunately, there is no sign on increasing harmonization, rather the contrary, i.e. evidence for an even more diverse situation in Europe. The studies conclude that harmonization of descriptors and sound insulation classes are needed to facilitate exchange of data and experience between countries and to reduce trade barriers. Most important is, however, that review of sound insulation requirements should be encouraged in several countries to adapt regulations to current construction trends and peoples' needs for health, wellbeing and comfort.
Looking into the future, harmonization of sound insulation requirements seems unrealistic. However, by preparing a harmonized European classification scheme with a number of quality classes, member states could select a "harmonized" class fitting the national needs and conditions.
A joint European Action, COST Action TU0901 "Integrating and Harmonizing Sound Insulation Aspects in Sustainable Urban Housing Constructions" [5], has been approved in 2009 and runs for four years. Until now, 25 countries have signed up for TU0901, and about 70 people have been nominated for the manage-ment committee and working groups. The main objectives of TU0901 are to prepare proposals for harmoni-zed sound insulation descriptors and for a European sound classification scheme with a number of quality classes for dwellings. Other goals are e.g. to establish a catalogue of sound insulation data and an on-line compendium on good workmanship.
At the first COST TU0901 joint meeting in Berlin in March 2010, the situation in Europe will be summarized and discussed, and joint efforts defined aiming at reducing the diversity in Europe and at supporting and initiating – where needed – improvement of sound insulation of new and existing dwellings in Europe to the benefit of the inhabitants and the society.

[1] "Sound insulation between dwellings – Descriptors in building regulations in Europe" by Birgit Rasmussen & Jens Holger Rindel. Applied Acoustics, 2010, 71(3), 171-180.
[2] "Sound insulation between dwellings – Requirements in building regulations in Europe" by Birgit Rasmussen. Applied Acoustics, 2010, 71(4), 373-385.
[3] "Sound insulation of residential housing – building codes and classification schemes in Europe" by Birgit Rasmussen. In: Crocker Malcolm J, Editor-in-Chief. Handbook of noise and vibration control, USA: Wiley and Son; 2007 [Ch. 114].
[4] "Sound classification of dwellings: Overview schemes in Europe and interaction with legislation" by Birgit Rasmussen. Convention Nazionale del Gruppo di Acustica Edilizia: L'acustica edilizia in Italia. Esperienze e prospettive, Associazione Italiana di Acustica, March 2009.
[5] COST Action TU0901 "Integrating and Harmonizing Sound Insulation Aspects in Sustainable Urban Housing Constructions", 2009-2013.
Period22 Feb 2010
Event typeConference
LocationMilano, Italy