Ground-Borne Noise & Vibration

18 March 2021

In an often-opaque world of noise terminology Ground-borne noise is most certainly one of the more confusing terms. Generally, noise is considered to be something that people hear may sometimes find unpleasant or annoying. When people hear noise, they are more than likely hearing it as it travels through the air and as a rule you would find it very difficult to listen to sound in a medium like solid ground. However, ground-borne noise is almost exactly as the name describes; It is noise that has travelled through the ground, or sometimes a structure to reach someone where they are able to hear it. This propagation is the primary difficulty in that typical noise mitigation methods like acoustic windows and noise barriers will do nothing to reduce the impacts of any ground-borne noise. The noise is travelling through the ground and at that point it would more accurately be termed ground-borne vibration; the reason that noise is produced is that when that vibration is transferred from the ground into a building it can make surfaces inside vibrate which then produces noise; in the same way the cone of a speaker does. It’s only when these surfaces vibrate that the ground-borne vibration becomes ground-borne noise. To create the levels of vibration necessary for ground-borne noise inside a building the source of vibration must be large and is typically a train but can in some circumstances be caused by construction equipment or rough roads.

Attempting to mitigate ground-borne noise when it appears is often costly and expensive. It is easier and cheaper to consider any issues in the design of the foundation for buildings to be occupied by people. When the source of ground-borne noise is a railway or something else permanent and pre-existing ground-borne noise can be considered early on. Consideration may be necessary, when building near railways and especially in London because the planning authority may make it a planning condition.

What can AAC do…

We can be involved at the early stages to identify the level of ground-borne noise present in the ground prior to construction and design, this service may be required for planning as well with certain Local Authorities. We can also aid with looking mitigation options in buildings that have already been built.

If you require any noise related assistance please contact David Sutton –