Environmental Acoustics – Building Regulations: Approved Document O – Overheating (June 2022)


At E3P Acoustics, our Noise Impact Assessments comply with a range of building regulations and British standards to ensure that new developments are suitable for their location, considering the potential effects of noise pollution on health, living conditions, and the natural environment. To mitigate the risk of overheating, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has set guidelines in Approved Document O – Overheating (ADO), which includes a simplified assessment of noise levels to determine whether windows will likely be kept closed. This is the first time that environmental noise regulations are incorporated into building regulations instead of planning legislation. ADO highlights that in areas where external noise is a problem, residents are more likely to keep windows closed, leading to increased risk of overheating in dwellings. Therefore, the strategy for mitigating overheating should consider the possibility of closed windows during sleeping hours (23:00-07:00) in such locations.

The relationship between noise and overheating is interconnected since mitigating noise often involves closing windows for sound insulation, while mitigating overheating assumes open windows for ventilation. This dilemma puts residents in a difficult situation, where they must choose between noise disturbance or overheating. Approved Document O provides threshold levels that indicate when occupants are likely to keep windows closed due to noise disruption, which can be used to compare measured or calculated noise levels to building facades and determine if noise levels are high enough to cause disturbance. If this is the case, alternative methods of mitigating overheating, such as whole dwelling ventilation systems, need to be recommended. It is estimated that over 30% of existing properties would not meet the noise level limits specified in the simplified method for window opening requirements outlined in ADO.

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