Noise & Vibration Impact Studies

HGC Engineering has completed thousands of noise and vibration impact studies and assessments for hundreds of clients over the past two decades. We work with planners, developers, builders, property managers and owners, and we understand how noise and vibration approvals fit into the planning and development process.

During the planning process for a new sensitive land use, such as a residential sub-division or a high-rise residential building, the municipality may require a noise and vibration impact study, if the development is close to a major traffic roadway, a rail corridor (train, subway, tram, streetcar), an airport or an industry (factory, quarry, refinery, power plant).

Early in the planning process, during development or amendments to an Official Plan, or a proposed re-zoning, the study may take the form of a noise feasibility study, evaluating the broad compatibility of locating certain competing land uses adjacent to one another – such as a residential zone next to an industrial zone. Often, these preliminary studies are primarily predictive in nature, because the lands in question may be only minimally developed, or slated to change land uses. In this case, acoustical computer modeling is used to determine the future sound levels.

For more advanced stages in the planning process, when a specific development or building is proposed, a full impact study can be undertaken, to address critical issues as detailed as the subdivision layout, dwelling orientation, selection of sound insulating walls and windows, and design of noise barriers or berms, where necessary. A number of key steps are essential to this type of noise and vibration impact study.

Noise and Vibration Impact Studies:
A Step-by-Step Process

  • Identifying existing sources of sound & vibration – As a first step, we visit the site of the proposed development to investigate the surrounding acoustical environment.Existing sources of sound and vibration are identified. If there are major roadways nearby, sound levels are measured at the locations of the most impacted buildings or facades. If there are sources of vibration in the vicinity, such as a railway or heavy industry, measurements of ground-borne vibration will be undertaken. If there are stationary sources of sound nearby, such as industries, commercial or institutional facilities, measurements will be taken to quantify the sound levels at the development site produced by those sources.
  • Predicting future noise & vibration levels – Beyond the measured sound and vibration data, some degree of predictive acoustical modeling is usually necessary, in order to assess the future impact from increasing volumes of road, rail and air traffic over time.
  • Determining jurisdictional limits for noise & vibration – Once the existing and future sound and vibration levels at the development site are known, we determine what the applicable assessment criteria should be.These limits could be set by the municipality, by the Province or State, by the transportation authorities, or by best practices, depending on the jurisdiction.
  • Developing Noise & Vibration Control Measures – If the existing or future sound levels are found to exceed the assessment criteria, we develop practical recommendations for noise control strategies.In the case of road, rail or air traffic noise, there are often ways to incorporate noise control measures into the layout of the subdivision or the design of the buildings.For noise and vibration excesses associated with neighbouring industrial, commercial or institutional sources, mitigation is often most effective when applied at the source, in cooperation with the owners/operators of the stationary equipment.
  • Delivering an Assessment Report – Our deliverable is a clear, concise assessment report, written in plain English. We take pride in crafting written reports that can be understood readily by everyone – not just those with specialized knowledge of noise, vibration and acoustics.

Case Studies

Ambatovy Nickel and Cobalt Mining Project, Madagascar

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Staff at BCX have been working collaboratively with HGC for nearly 15 years.  HGC’s superior quality work and prompt response time make them our No.1 choice for noise consulting services.”

Bridget Mills, Principal/Senior Environmental Engineer

BCX Environmental Consulting

HGC Engineering has demonstrated that they are very professional and responsive. They effectively communicate the requirements of noise guidelines and regulations to all levels of staff in a manner that is easily understood. Work scopes are tailored to meet our business needs, whether it is environmental or workplace noise assessments.”

Sarah McQuaig, Sr. Environmental Advisor

Petro-Canada Lubricants

Over the years we have worked HGC on numerous projects ranging from 1300 seat performance auditoriums to 300 seat churches and in all cases we have been impressed with the high level of service and the excellent results. Our clients have all been very complimentary on the excellent acoustic results in their buildings.”

David Parker, President

Parker Architects

HGC has been great to work with on environmental approval projects.  They fully understand the requirements of the regulatory approval agency and have assisted our clients both by providing quality acoustic assessment reports, and when necessary, developing practical solutions for noise excesses.”

Lena Perry, Process/Environmental Specialist

HSP Engineering and Environmental

HGC has continued to provide high quality, cost-effective, professional acoustic services for Vale’s numerous facilities in Ontario, including work done at a number of extremely complex facilities (100’s of sources) over the last 2 decades.  All projects were completed on time and on budget, and were successful in providing real solutions to local communities.”

Monika Greenfield, Senior Specialist, Environment Air

Vale Ontario Operations, Sudbury Ontario

HGC Engineering has the experience and technical expertise to identify the most cost-effective noise abatement solutions. Every project that they have consulted on has been successfully completed.”

Jeff Pett, Production Manager

Maple Leaf Consumer Foods

HGC delivers cost-effective, professional expertise of the highest quality.  They have a practical approach to problem-solving and can be counted on to provide excellent, value-added service.”

John Monczka, Senior Environmental Specialist

Hydro One Networks Inc.

HGC Engineering represents professionalism and expertise at its finest. We know we can depend on them for quality work, every time.”

Marnie Freer, Principal

Lehder Environmental Services Ltd.

My experience working with HGC has been very professional, with a dependable high-level work product delivered on time and within budget.  I appreciate their flexibility and availability to discuss issues and provide options as part of their consulting process.”

David Savoia,

The Penn Group of Companies

HGC always provides us with excellent service.  They consistently produce high-quality results on time and on budget.”

Peter Mussio, Manager EHS Compliance

Union Gas Limited

We have worked with HGC Engineering on multiple projects in which the acoustics of a space has been critical.  This includes two performance theatres, university teaching environments, and multiple churches.  In all instances, we have been very pleased with the results.”

Lawrie Carter, Principal

Architecture Incorporated

We’ve worked with HGC on a number of projects in the last 15 years and found this firm to be very professional and reliable. I will not hesitate to work with HGC on future projects.”

Andrew Baczynski, Associate

IBI Group

Not only is HGC one of the most technically astute environmental noise consulting firms in Ontario, but they are also reliable, efficient and genuine.  ORTECH has worked with HGC for 20 years and we continue to be impressed with their technical expertise and professionalism.”

Ciara De Jong, Principal

Ortech Consulting Inc.

HGC has been a great partner for Lafarge staff. First in navigating the byzantine noise regulations in Ontario but also helping us find practical, cost-effective paths to reach compliance for existing operations amending their Environmental Compliance Approvals, and for new projects.”

Robert Cumming, Environment & Public Affairs Director, Canada - East

Lafarge Canada Inc.

I first used HGC expertise some 17 years ago to solve a very tricky problem with commercial exhaust fan noise on a hotel project. HGC’s solution was so effective in reducing the fan noise level that it quelled all complaints from neighbors. Since that time I have used HGC expertise on a variety of Independent School projects with the primary emphasis on sound attenuation within the buildings and help with theatre acoustics. They are consummate professionals.”

Les Andrew, Principal

Andrew Incorporated Architect

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