Blog: Aggreko on minimising noise pollution at events

In this exclusive blog, David de Behr, head of events at Aggreko, discusses the steps that can be taken to minimise noise pollution for the events industry 

The sporting and entertainment event industries are constantly evolving to meet consumer demands. Each year we expect bigger and better: larger screens in stadia, faster Wi-Fi connections, brighter lighting and, more recently, the convenience of electronic ticketing. These are just some of the reasons why a reliable source of power is more mission critical for major events today than ever before.

The flexibility and reliability of temporary power means that it is a perfect fit for event organisers, particularly for those held in remote locations or where grid connections are not viable. However, on-site power generation, as well as additional essential temporary infrastructure like temperature control systems, can pose their own challenges to an organiser’s ability to minimise the noise pollution associated with their event.

There is a need to meet stringent regulations with regards to noise levels – which vary around the world – and contravening them can lead to financial penalties and a negative impact on attendees, performers and the reputation of the organiser.

Consideration about noise levels should come early and, ideally, during the first stages of the event’s planning process. Could noise levels impact athletes or performers? Will noise pollution disrupt the local community and residents? Will it meet local and country specific regulations? Every event is different; each requires detailed planning from layout and installation to maintenance and project management.

There are two strategies to minimising noise emissions where power generation and temperature control are concerned. Either the organiser can adopt technology specifically designed to operate quietly; or it can improve the event’s energy efficiency in order to reduce the number and size of generators or coolers in situ.

For instance, we provided temporary power to the 2014 Ryder Cup, where there was an obvious need to keep noise levels to a minimum. Tournament golf requires a discreet audience and an even quieter built environment. We provided 17 MW of power to and around the golf course, adopting our new innovative “Super Silent” generators that produce very low noise emissions (48-55 dBA at 50 feet).

Noise levels also cause a significant challenge for city centre events and, sometimes, innovative ideas need to be explored in order to minimise disruption to residents. In planning for the London 2012 Olympic Games (right)Opening Ceremony London 2012 Olympics August 2012, it was clear that steps would need to be taken to do this, given the infrastructure and proximity many of the events had to local residents. We took this challenge on and placed generators on floating platforms on the River Lea, moving the noise out of the built-up area.

Noise barriers are another great way of minimising disruption for city centre events, reducing noise levels in areas overlooked by residents and businesses. Under typical installation conditions, our Generator Set Enclosure Barrier, for example, can reduce noise levels by 90 per cent (10dB) for residents on the sixth floor of an overlooking building and by 84 per cent (8dB) on the ground floor.

Where temperature control is concerned, such as for a typical city centre ice-rink, there is often restricted space in which to work, meaning minimising noise from chillers and associated generators is increasingly important. To get around this, efficiency is key. Having high efficiency chillers with variable speed condenser fans, acoustic compressor enclosures and variable capacity control can all contribute to optimising efficiency and noise performance. High efficiency chillers ultimately lead to a need for smaller generator sets, lower powered engines and, consequently, less noise, less fuel consumption and reduced emissions.

Planning early is the first step to making sure your event, whether it is sporting or entertainment, offers as little noise impact on the local environment as possible. And whether your strategy is efficiency or technology-based, new innovations are constantly in development to help organisers minimise sound emissions.

For more information on Aggreko’s role within the global events industry please visit www.aggreko.com.