Sound, or acoustics, is one of the things that you wouldn’t necessarily expect Homestar to take into consideration. However, we’ve all been in environments where the noise drives us bonkers, so it makes sense that acoustic design would influence how enjoyable a space can be. The points allocated in this Homestar category, consider sound generated both internally and externally of the house.
To mute external sources of sounds, we must look at the weak point of the envelope – the windows. In this category, Homestar awards points if the specified windows have a high “sound transmission class”, meaning that little sound can come through the joinery. In theory then, when the windows are shut and the house is closed up, little sound can come through. Unfortunately the specified windows in this project, while very high performing thermally, are just short of the requirement to meet this criteria. We do get some points though, as our project has made use of mechanical ventilation which means that no windows are required to be kept constantly open to keep the inside air healthy.
Sound generated inside the home is something that we rarely deal with very thoroughly in design. Often we will sound proof bathrooms and laundries to keep these functions discreet, but we usually do little beyond that acoustically. Another aspect in this category which is awarded is the designation of a “noisy room” that can be shut off to mute noisy behavior through the use of double-lining, solid core doors and acoustic seals. Our project has decided to embrace this system and customise it for our family’s requirements. Having young children can be noisy – so our noisy room is their playroom. In here they can make as much noise as their hearts desire – for example playing or learning music – while the adults can relax or entertain undisturbed in their own space.