Investigation of Airflow and Sound Transmission through Vented-Acoustical Panels for Natural Ventilation


  • James Higgins VanAir Design Inc
  • Vivek Shankar UBC
  • Murray Hodgson UBC


Between June and December of 2015, VanAir Design, in collaboration with Dr. Murray Hodgson and MApSc Vivek Shankar of UBC’s Acoustics and Noise Research Group (ANRG), studied airflow and sound transmission through vented thin panel partitions. The research is a continuation of separate work done by both VanAir and the ANRG. The focus application was ventilation openings for naturally ventilated buildings. As such, low pressure and low velocity airflow were investigated in more detail than before.

The research was conducted in labs built for directly testing acoustical transmission loss and airflow on the same specimen installation, in full-size. First, four simple partition channel shapes were tested and evaluated; they were named ‘straight’, ‘L’, ‘U’, and ‘Z’. These tests provided justification for continuing detailed research into mainly the Z shape. By varying the dimensions of the Z channel and the arrangement of sound absorbing materials, many permutations were tested. The performance data was then organized into a test inventory spreadsheet, which can be used to design a vented partition for size, sound transmission, and ventilation requirements.

The wings of the Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) building at UBC are naturally and mechanically ventilated, and therefore very low pressures drive airflow. In the original design, large open areas were left above the movable wall partitions for airflow, but these openings transmit sound which causes a distracting work environment. The operating conditions of these wings were studied, and six finish-quality vented partition prototypes were designed and installed in the openings of four meeting rooms. Finally, in situ measurements were taken to find the installed performance of the vented partitions and the new operating conditions of the meeting rooms.

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How to Cite

Higgins J, Shankar V, Hodgson M. Investigation of Airflow and Sound Transmission through Vented-Acoustical Panels for Natural Ventilation. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2016 Aug. 24 [cited 2024 Jul. 13];44(3). Available from:



Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada

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