Sound Panels Silence HVAC and Generator Noise Issue for Baxter Regional Medical Center

Industrial All Weather Sound Panels surround HVAC and stand-by generator equipment to eliminate sound reflections in the area.

Baxter Regional Medical Center in Arkansas, acquired a noise issue with the installation of a HVAC and stand-by generator for its surgery department. The noise problem was eradicated with the placement of Industrial All Weather Sound Panels (IAWSP) from Acoustiblok, panels engineered to silence noise challenges.

Marshall Campbell, director of engineering at Baxter says, “We are happy with the results. Since the installation of Industrial All Weather Sound Panels the hospital has not received a noise complaint from the community.”

Baxter Regional Medical Center (BRMC), located in Mountain Home, Ark., serves patients from a two-state, 14-county area throughout north-central Arkansas and south-central Missouri. BRMC is a 268 all-private bed facility with more than 100 physicians on staff. The hospital encompasses 500,000 square feet of space. With several patient satisfaction awards, Baxter Regional has committed itself to providing excellence of care and preserving BRMC as a community-driven health system.

Part of BRMC’s plan included an energy performance initiative. After some tests were taken and the data reviewed, it was noted that the entire medical center was kept very cold inside and energy could be saved by raising the temperature of the facility up several degrees; however, the entire medical center was on one system and the surgical rooms required lower temperatures.

Due to the challenge, it was decided to purchase a 170-ton HVAC system and backup generator to operate as completely separate units for only the surgery department. It was installed at the back of the hospital close to the surgery unit.

Unfortunately, soon after the HVAC and stand-by generator were installed Baxter started to receive complaints from residents on the hill behind the hospital. The units had been installed at the bottom of the hill and the sound was creating an amphitheater affect; the sound was traveling directly up the hill into residents’ homes.

Campbell headed up the project to find a solution to the noise problem. An independent acoustic consultant was called in to do a site analysis and give his recommendations. The initial sound measurements were a 250-315Hz constant tone on the hill where the residents were being impacted.

The engineer submitted several options; after reviewing the choices, BRMC decided to go with Acoustiblok’s IAWSP to reduce the noise problems.

HVAC and generator noise are two common noise problems in commercial and industrial settings. Organizations such as healthcare facilities are increasingly aware that HVAC/generator noise can contribute to customer complaints and possible health issues for guests, hospital staff and neighbors. Nowadays, addressing the acoustical issues of air handling systems and generators is just as important as taking care of air flow heating/cooling requirements.

Installation of the Industrial All Weather Sound Panels

The Industrial All Weather Sound Panels, originally designed for offshore drilling rigs and tested to withstand 270 MPH wind loads, were installed around the hospitals HVAC chillers /generator equipment with a hinged door for maintenance access and a custom panel for the intake and exhaust.

According to Campbell, an independent acoustical engineer took sound measurements before and after the installation. A final site analysis done after the installation found the residences on the hill who had been experiencing the 315 Hz tone were no longer hearing anything audible, and the sound measurements did not show any evidence of any tone whatsoever.

Marshall says, “The installation went smoothly and the panels look great. Our Acoustiblok consultant, Jay Boland, was helpful, knowledgeable and called me back quickly with the answers to my questions. I would recommend the panels for similar noise problems. We are currently considering Acoustiblok products for a new project to reduce noise on our medical/surgical floors. We are a patient-centered organization and want to do everything possible to facilitate patient healing.”

Lahnie Johnson, president and founder of Acoustiblok says, “We are thrilled with the results. Our Industrial All Weather Sound Panels are constructed to be both sound absorbing (NRC 1.00) and sound blocking (STC 29-35) to stop sound from penetrating through the panel. The sound absorbency of the panels brings down the acoustical energy around the generator and HVAC chillers by eliminating all sound reflections in the area, while the Acoustiblok Blok16 material in the panels allows it to also be a sound barrier. These qualities made Industrial All Weather Sound Panels the right solution for Baxter Regional Medical Center’s HVAC/generator noise problem. They will perform year around, even in harsh winter weather and hot humid summers.”

He went on to say, “Water, moisture, humidity salt air or salt water, dirt, dust, UV, chlorine air, corrosion, and most harsh chemicals do not affect the Industrial All Weather Sound Panels. The sound panels are also available with an acoustically transparent five micron stainless steel dust filter for outdoor use, from the mining industry to the desert areas of the Middle East, or anywhere dust is a concern. Acoustiblok IAWSP are durable and are in use by the U.S. military and industries throughout the world, including power plants.”

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