In recent years, the science and engineering for controlling sound transmission in buildings have shifted from a focus on individual assemblies such as walls or floors, to a focus on performance of the complete system. Standardized procedures for calculating the overall transmission, combined with standardized measurements to characterize sub-assemblies, provide much better prediction of sound transmission between adjacent indoor spaces. The International Standards Organization (ISO) has published a calculation method, ISO 15712-1 that uses laboratory test data for sub-assemblies such as walls and floors as inputs for a detailed procedure to calculate the expected sound transmission between adjacent rooms in a building. This standard works very well for some types of construction, but to use it in a North American context one must overcome two obstacles – incompatibility with the ASTM standards used by our construction industry, and low accuracy of its predictions for lightweight wood or steel frame construction. To bypass limitations of ISO 15712-1, this Guide explains how to merge ASTM and ISO test data in the ISO calculation procedure, and provides recommendations for applying extended measurement and calculation procedures for specific common types of construction. This Guide was developed in a project established by the National Research Council of Canada to support the transition of construction industry practice to using apparent sound transmission class (ASTC) for sound control objectives in the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC). However, the potential range of application goes beyond the minimum requirements of the NBCC – the Guide also facilitates design to provide enhanced sound insulation, and should be generally applicable to construction in both Canada and the USA. This publication contains a limited set of examples for several types of construction, to provide an introduction and overview of the ASTC calculation procedure. Additional examples and measurement data can be found in the companion documents to this Guide, namely NRC Research Reports RR-333 to RR-337. Furthermore, the calculation procedure outlined and illustrated in this Guide is also used by the software web application soundPATHS, which is available for free on the website of the National Research Council of Canada (see the references in Section 7 of this Guide for access details).
Mass timber products are growing in popularity, particularly in multifamily residential dwellings, for which they are structurally well-suited. However, acoustic performance of these products has not been robustly tested, which can be a hindrance to building projects due to lack of code compliance or building performance with poor acoustics. The latter is particularly important since the sound transmission class (STC) rating—a single number used to characterize decibel attenuation—does not characterize an assembly in terms of which frequencies it blocks well or transmits. Wood does a good job of attenuating mid- to high-range frequencies, but not necessarily low ones, such as from a sub-woofer, so testing of assemblies is critical because it elicits their performance in terms of the entire range of frequencies, in addition to defining a single STC rating. This allows for adjustments to be made that balance the acoustic performance of the assembly – such as adding isolation through solutions like air space or concrete topping – with construction cost, sequencing and aesthetics. The other standard acoustic rating, impact insulation class (IIC), accounts for foot-fall and other impact noises and is another critical test for determining code compliance of floor assemblies.