Acoustic classification of buildings in Europe – Main characteristics of national schemes for housing, schools, hospitals and office buildings

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Building regulations specify minimum requirements, and more than ten countries in Europe have published national acoustic classification schemes with quality classes, the main purpose being to introduce easy specification of stricter acoustic criteria than defined in regulations. The very first classification schemes were published in the mid 1990’es and for dwellings only. Since then, more countries have introduced such schemes, some including also other building categories like e.g. schools, hospitals and office buildings, and the first countries have made updates more times. Acoustic classification schemes define limit values for a number of acoustic performance areas, typically airborne and impact sound insulation, service equipment noise, traffic noise and reverberation time, i.e. the same as in regulations.
Comparative studies of the national acoustic classification schemes in Europe show main characteristics varying significantly across Europe, e.g. about building types included, number and range of quality classes, acoustic descriptors and limit values, class denotations and relation to building regulations. The classification schemes have developed over time, and limit values have in general - like regulations - become stricter, extended to more building uses and more acoustic performance areas.
The paper summarizes main characteristics of the current national quality classes for housing, schools, hospitals and office buildings. The majority of schemes focus on quality classes corresponding to regulations or higher and have none or few classes below current national regulations, implying that major parts of existing buildings cannot be classified. Among other things, it is concluded that lower classes should be added, thus enabling acoustic classification of existing buildings - like for energy labelling – and make visible the acoustic quality, hoping that improvement of acoustic conditions could be promoted. In general, more collaboration between countries is recommended, implying exchange of experience and potentially leading to improved classification schemes and acoustic quality of buildings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of EuroNoise 2018
Number of pages8
PublisherEuropean Acoustics Association (EEA) ; Hellenic Institute of Acoustics (HELINA )
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventEuroNoise 2015 - Hersonissos, Crete, Greece
Duration: 27 May 201831 May 2018


ConferenceEuroNoise 2015
CityHersonissos, Crete
Internet address

Bibliographical note

ISSN: 2226-5147


  • building acoustics
  • regulations
  • acoustic classification
  • descriptors
  • Europe
  • labelling


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