A vibrant city, such as Denver, is teeming with activity, often 24/7. The sounds of building construction, horns blasting and constant traffic are part and parcel of a dynamic city brimming with opportunity. Unfortunately, it is also noisy, and this can be annoying and even unhealthy.
A 2011 report from the World Health Organization called noise pollution a “modern day plague.” It continued by noting that “there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population.”
According to another recent article, “in a loud and distracting world, finding pockets of stillness can benefit your brain and body.” The piece offers four science-based reasons for this.
- Silence relieves stress and tension. Noise has been shown to lead to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks. Loud noises raise stress levels by activating the amygdala part of the brain causing it to release the stress hormone cortisol.
- Silence replenishes our mental resources. According to the “attention restoration theory,” the brain can restore its finite cognitive resources when it is exposed to lower levels of sensory input.
- In silence, the brain can tap into the default mode network. When the brain is idle, it allows a person to access an inner stream of thoughts, emotions, memories and ideas which stimulates creativity.
- Brain cells can be generated when there is quiet. A 2013 study of mice found that two hours of silence daily led to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, a key brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion.
The Sounds of Silence at Home
After a typical day where one is surrounded by noise pollution, many homeowners are ready for some peace and quiet when they walk through the front door. This has resulted in more and more custom home buyers adding “acoustic value” to their wish-list, and Mike Schroetlin, CEO of Schroetlin Custom Homes, understands why.
“Sound control is very important to all of our clients on some level,” he said. “Being in a quiet home gives homeowners a feeling of a quality built home that will be around for hundreds of years.
“Our clients don’t want to hear the wind blowing outside, an airplane flying by or traffic noise. They also don’t want to hear the toilet flush in the bathroom down the hall when the door is closed.
“The types of construction materials can certainly help to keep the urban noise outside. For example, brick is very important for exterior sound control. Our clients feel that brick makes for a quiet and strong home. This is true whether it’s in an urban setting with city sounds outside or a home on the plains or in the mountains with other sound factors, including high winds.”
Jay Cox of Acme Brick added, “Unlike wood or synthetic building materials, brick’s mass helps to dampen the transfer of sound through the wall, keeping the outdoor sounds out or letting the home owner “rock out” without disturbing their neighbors. There is no more durable building material than brick.
“The unit-based nature of brick also allows architects and homeowners to create imaginative and finely detailed structures, and, while not directly related to acoustic value, this adds to the ambiance of a custom home.”
Other Building Strategies to ensure that Silence is Golden
In addition to using brick, Schroetlin Custom Homes employs other building strategies for noise abatement.
“We also use 2x6 exterior walls with blown-in exterior wall insulation,” Mike said. “The thicker walls allow for more insulation, which helps a lot with sound transmission. Blown-in insulation also fills all small gaps and voids, compared to traditional batt insulation, to help even more with sound control.
“Compared to older, single pane windows, today’s double pane windows also help a great deal with sound abatement. Some window manufacturers even offer enhanced sound reducing windows.
“Finally, we insulate most interior walls and floors to further assist with sound reduction. For specific needs, such as the theater/media rooms, there are special drywall products that can help with or even alleviate all sound, depending on how much a client cares to spend.
“There are different levels of sound deadening insulation available, as well as multiple sound reducing drywall options, for these media rooms. Certain framing techniques can also be done. Basic sound reducing precautions can be done for a few hundred dollars, or ten thousand dollars or more could be spent for serious sound reduction in a high end media room,” Mike concluded.
Peace and quiet begins at home, and if you’re considering a custom home contact Mike Schroetlin for more great ideas like these. For more information on brick construction, contact Jay Cox at Acme Brick.