Speech privacy between working places

Ecophon official reference: School, multimedia resource center, group study. Project: Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, KTH, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. Architect: Ahrbom Arkitektkontor AB. Photo: Åke E:son Lindman. System: Focus DG.According to the American standard ASTM E 1130, speech privacy between working places can be measured objectively in open plan offices and other environments arranged with an open layout. Such measurements are only valid for their specific configurations and are dependent on certain  parameters:


  • sound absorption efficiency of the acoustic ceiling and other surfaces
  • sound insulation efficiency of space dividers
  • layout of working places
  • background noise level
  • speech spectrum and level
According to ASTM E 1111, acoustic suspended ceilings can be measured objectively for their properties in such applications. This standard provides the means to measure the Interzone Attenuation of Ceiling Systems, and the linked standard ASTM E1110 gives the tools to calculate the Articulation Class for classification of ceiling systems.
Articulation Class
Increased background noise - not recommended
Increased background noise can have long-term negative effects, such as illness, fatigue, decreased productivity and efficiency. Therefore it is not recommended to attempt to obtain better daily speech privacy by increasing the ventilation noise, or use other sound masking systems.
Another thing to bear in mind is that people are differently sensitive to sound and noise in general. Privacy and seclusion in open plan spaces can only be solved satisfactory by creating separate rooms for confidential discussions and work tasks  needing higher concentration.

Acoustics glossary

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