Not in my Backyard: Noise Control

Noise control is a topic that plagues many industries. Ensuring safe hearing is maintained in the workplace is not a foreign concept to most of us, as it is common to start developing acute hearing loss when exposed to sounds exceeding 130 decibels (dB). What is less often discussed is the noise that is potentially impacting the community surrounding an operating facility or new development.

When addressing sound versus noise, noise is generally associated with the unwanted portion of sound. The status quo of community living whether it be rural or urban is to be surrounded by accessible amenities with a sense of peace in your daily life. Therefore, when a new development is undergoing planning and pending approval, concerns surrounding noise control may arise from the surrounding community.

What is Directive 38?

Directive 38: Noise Control is a regulated document published in February of 2007 by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board in conjunction with the Alberta Energy Regulator that addresses environmental noise concerns and highlights the considerations that should be taken into account when approaching noise management from a receptor-based approach. In these terms, a receptor could be the individuals in a single dwelling family home in a large city, or a seasonal cottage located in a rural community that are being impacted by excessive noise levels.

This directive sets permissible sound levels for outdoor noise and is focused on ensuring that normal sleep patterns as well as daily activities are not disturbed in nearby dwellings. Although humans are the primary receptors of the impacts, domestic and wild animals are considered, and have been known to avoid an area before becoming familiar with new noise.  

Not in my Backyard (NIMBY)

In situations when residents or community members feel they are not being considered in development decisions and the implications of those decisions such as increased traffic in their area, a building that is a “sore eye” aesthetically, or unintended noise from a facility, the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) mentality can arise.

This mentality is one of opposition of a civic project, such as a jail, landfill or warehouse that may be considered unsightly, dangerous, or noisy in this case. It does go without saying that regular traffic use, bus routes and other common noises can be of concern and pop us as noise complaints often as well.  

Engage With Stakeholders

The potential for these noise management issues to occur gives rise to the importance for facility landowners or developers to establish good relationships with nearby residents and land users.

Discussing noise concerns during the design, construction/renovation and operation phase of a project can lend to fostering a good relationship from the beginning of the project and contribute to a positive reputation of transparency with the public.

On the ground this can look like a stakeholder engagement workshop at the local community center, which could allow the developer to meet and engage with the potential receptors of the noise their business may create. Or, in congruence with today’s current climate, hosting a virtual stakeholder Zoom meeting is a valuable option.

Learning about the expectations of all parties impacted by the noise, and allowing a clear line of communication helps to establish positive community and stakeholder relationships. No more of the “not in my backyard” mentality.  

Is your company or organization in a phase of new facility construction or modification? Would you like to learn more about ways to consider all the possible noise impacts your project could have on the surrounding community and its receptors?  Contact our team below!

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