Acoustics Standards and Guidance

Below you will find a list of British/International Standards and Guidance relevant to the Acoustics field as well as a short description and key links on where to view or purchase the documents.

Building Regulations Approved Document E

The Building Regulations are a collection of Approved Documents that provide guidelines, which must be met for every new build and newly converted properties in England and Wales.

Approved Document E (ADE) deals primarily with the sound insulation properties of residential developments. In 2013 the latest version of this document came into force and therefore, residential properties developed after this date must comply with this latest version.

The Robust Details can be viewed here:

Robust Details (Residential)

Registering with Robust Details Ltd can help achieve compliance with the Approved Document E 2013. Robust Details Ltd provide separating wall and floor constructions.

An alternative to pre-completion testing to prove compliance with ADE 2013 is registration with the scheme and correct use of the Robust Details constructions.

World Health Organisation (Residential)

The World Health Organisation provides guidance regarding both internal and external noise levels that are suitable in and around residential properties.

The following is recommended in a WHO 2000 document:

  • 30dB LAeq in bedrooms with no more than 45dB LAmax, over 8 hours in the night.
  • 35db LAeq in living rooms over 16 hours during the day.
  • 50 to 55db LAeq in gardens over 16 hours during the day.
  • 45dB LAeq outside bedrooms with an open window over 8 hours at night.

PPG24/Tan11/Pan 56 and BS8233 have similar values, and as these have particular significant in the UK, these should take precedence.

The WHO guidelines for residential noise can be found here:\

BS 8233 (Residential, Industrial, Offices)

The British Standard Code of Practice BS8233: 2014 ‘Sound insulation and noise reduction for buildings’ provides advice on the design of internal acoustics buildings. It has to do with control of noise from outside the building, noise from plant and services within it, and room acoustics for non-critical situations.

BS 4142 (Industry)

The British Standard 4142: 2014, ‘Method for Rating industrial noise affecting mixed residential and industrial areas’, is a standard used mainly for the assessment of local residents’ likelihood of complaining if a new industrial noise source is introduced to the area. This standard is often used when near residential sites are developing near industry.


The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) demands all industrial operations in specific sectors to conduct noise assessments and try to reduce noise emissions.

IPPC requires measurement of each separate noise source and calculation of the resultant noise level at the receiver location. Ordering noise sources from highest to lowest impact should follow this.

Industrial premises are required to minimise noise emissions by taking sensible steps such as employing Best Available Techniques (BAT). Since the cost of these measures is of relevant consideration, only changes considered reasonable should be implemented. The industry is permitted to work within their available budget, and BAT measure should not place unreasonable restrictions.

Noise at Work

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 established the regulations relating to occupational noise exposure, which came into force on 6 April 2006. The exposure that each employee experiences should be assessed based on measured LAeq noise levels corrected for an 8-hour working day.

Where possible, the standard requires reduction of employees’ noise exposure; designation of hearing protection areas; provision of hearing protection; and communication of relevant information to employees.

View The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 here:


Minerals Policy Statement 2 (2005): Controlling and Mitigating the Environmental Effects of Minerals Extraction in England, Annex 2: Noise (MPS2).

The MPS2 document sets out the policies and considerations that the Government expects Mineral Planning Authorities (MPAs) to follow including specific criteria to control noise impact from mineral extraction operations such as quarries.

BS 5228 (Environmental)

The British Standard 5228: 2009 is the Code of Practice for Noise and Vibration Control on Construction and Open Sites. The BS5228 is published in two parts:

Part 1. Noise

Part 2. Vibration

The document provides source data for various types of noise source, calculation methods for noise produced by construction and open sites such as quarries.

It also specifies methods for calculating noise from stationary and mobile plants. Calculations use either sound power levels or LAeq levels as a source, subsequently, they use standard distance attenuation calculations, soft ground attenuations, barrier attenuations, percentage on time corrections, etc. Most of these areas are covered elsewhere in this handbook.

BS5228 provides information and guidance on measures for general noise control. It does not, however, give full guidance on noise limits but it does state that noise control targets for evening periods should be stricter than those for daytime (as much as 10dB(A) below daytime limit).

BB93 (Education)

The BB93 standard provides strict guidelines for all school buildings and modification of school buildings. The standard became mandatory after the introduction of the 2003 version of the Approved Document E of Building Regulations.

CRTN (Roads)

The Calculation of Noise from Road Traffic (CRTN) is the standard UK procedure, which defines measurement and calculation methods for assessing road traffic noise. This standard uses a method of five stages for calculating traffic noise at a reception point.

The CRTN’s full description can be found here:

CRN (Railways)

CRN refers to The Calculation of Railway Noise, which is the standard UK procedure, which defines measurement and calculations methods for predicting the impact of railway noise. This standard is similar to CRTN for roads and the method for calculating railway noise at a reception point consists of six stages.

Noise Insulation Regulations (Roads/Rail)

Government legislation states that dwellings, which are seriously affected by railways or roads, require building insulation.

The Noise Insulation (Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems) Regulations (1998) help determine the properties needing additional sound insulation when a new or significantly altered railway or road could potentially impact on properties.

CRTN must be used to calculate the maximum façade levels expected from traffic flows. The eligibility criteria for living and bedrooms insulation are based on the LA10, (18-hour) (i.e. between 0600 and 0000 hours).

The authority responsible for the road construction has the duty to produce and display a map showing all eligible properties.

This code of practice can be purchased from the IOA site:

Pubs and Clubs

The Code of Practice (Good Practice Guide) on the Control of Noise from Pubs and Clubs has gone through various alterations, however, the September 2002 draft, which was never officially published, is still in use by some Local Authorities.

The requirements imposed by this Code of Practice apply to both internal and external noise sensitive properties and are targeted to venues with entertainment occurring more than once per week. Events taking place less regularly have similar criteria but allow entertainment noise to be 5dB higher for all the parameters.

Environmental Protection Act 1990

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 grant a Local Authority the power to serve a noise Abatement Notice to demand that an individual or company who is believed to be causing unnecessary and objectionable noise desists from causing future nuisance.

A Local Authority can allege that any noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance is a ‘statutory nuisance’.

The Local Authority has a responsibility to inspect its area from time to time to detect any statutory nuisances that need dealing with. They also have a duty to investigate a complaint of a statutory nuisance made by an individual living in the area and a duty to serve an Abatement Notice where the Local Authority is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists or is likely or occur or recur within the area of the authority.

Environmental Protection Act 1990
The Environmental Protection Act can be found here:

ETSU R97 Wind Farms

This standard is concerned with noise from wind farms. It states the following:

  • Night-time criterion of 43dB LA90 outside a dwelling, which relates to 35dB LAeq inside a dwelling.
  • Daytime criterion is set at 35-40dB L externally and no more than 5dB over background noise levels.

This creates an odd situation where daytime noise limits are higher than at night, which arises from the route of derivation of the numbers.

Commonly wind turbine/wind noise is evaluated using BS4142.