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Week of Sound 2024: Interview with Virgile Gueret

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From January 15th to 28th, France is celebrating the 21st edition of the UNESCO "Week of Sound" centered around the theme "Towards a Sound Ecology". This period provides an opportunity to delve into discussions about the sounds that surround us and to illuminate their impact on our health.

This year, various topics will be explored, with a particular focus on auditory health, the sound environment, and strategies aimed at enhancing and safeguarding the acoustic surroundings.

Given our deep commitment to this cause, we have extended an invitation to our branch director, Virgile Gueret, to share his insights on what sound ecology means to him and the challenges faced in France.


What defines "sound ecology"?

Sound ecology refers to the study and management of sounds in a given environment, encompassing the sound interactions among living beings, human activities, and the surroundings.

A healthy sound ecology aims to maintain a harmonious balance among the various sound elements in a location, promoting both the well-being of individuals and the preservation of biodiversity.

What are the main causes of noise pollution in France?

In France, the main causes of noise pollution include road, rail, and air traffic, as well as industrial activities. Urban areas are particularly affected, with a high concentration of sound (noise) sources. Awareness of reducing noise emissions from these activities is essential to mitigate the impact of noise pollution.

Is the construction sector addressing the issue of noise pollution adequately?

Encouraging early design integration of acoustic and vibro-acoustic solutions can contribute to improving the acoustic quality of buildings. Unfortunately, despite progress being made, there are still challenges to address in the field of acoustics.

Indeed, some stakeholders are not giving sufficient attention to acoustic standards, leading to potential issues of sound comfort for occupants. The current legislation is limited to the acoustics of residential collective buildings, and there is still no specific regulation regarding vibrations (or vibro-acoustics) for any type of building.

Fortunately, an increasing number of acoustic professionals in France recognize the importance of establishing such regulations, and public authorities also share this perspective.

What solutions exist for addressing noise? And in your opinion, what measures should construction stakeholders in France implement to improve the situation?

Solutions to mitigate noise include the use of acoustic/vibro-acoustic insulation materials, designing buildings with absorbing features, and implementing noise reduction devices. It is crucial for construction stakeholders to involve acoustic specialists from the early stages of design, primarily by engaging acoustic consultancy firms. More broadly, it is necessary for all stakeholders to incorporate vibro-acoustics as a factor for building efficiency in their actions.