Cirrus Helping to Stop Residents Getting in a Lather Over Car Wash [Case Study]

Environmental noise is part of every-day life, from traffic in city centres, children playing at school break time to church bells ringing on a Sunday morning. None of these activities may sound particularly ear-shattering but they have one thing in common – they have all attracted noise nuisance complaints at one time or another.

Not every noise is deemed a nuisance and, likewise, seemingly innocuous activities can create an environmental blight.

The Client

Tony Higgins at Enviroconsult Ltd

The Project

Planning permission for a hand car wash facility

The Product

Optimus Green Sound Level Meter and NoiseTools

The Solution

Enviroconsult Ltd was asked to support a planning application case that, at face value, wouldn’t seem to raise too many eyebrows – a hand car wash. Hand car wash facilities are increasingly common and, despite their low key and relatively low-tech appearance, the noise they generate can be significant.

In this case, the proposed car wash needed a change of use from a defunct garage forecourt. The site had significant planning history and a number of complaints had been raised relating to noise from other sources on the site. The proposal centred on adapting an existing ‘up and over’ car wash building into a hand wash facility.

A BS4142:2014 assessment was required for the on-site activities and the preferred time for measurements was the busiest period – nominally Saturday afternoon. Consultant Tony Higgins’ field observations noted that the principle sound source in the area was road traffic from the local network. Measured levels for ambient and background during the day were considered high.

“Measurements were taken for two activities on site – hand car washing, in particular the power jet wash, and vacuum cleaner valeting,” explained Tony. “I used the Cirrus Optimus Green 171B Sound Level Meter with audio recording capability.

“The outputs from the meter were evaluated using the Noise Tools software and provided robust and compelling source data with the minimum of effort.”

The times marked in red indicate the use of the jet wash and Noise Tools provides helpful table of all the marked periods along with their respective LAEQ’s (see below).  The total average LAEQ for the period (10minutes) has been quoted. The data was taken from a distance of 7.5m from source.

Start Time End Time Time (seconds) LAeq (dB)
19-Mar-16 12:20:53 19-Mar-16 12:21:09 22 71.5
19-Mar-16 12:23:25 19-Mar-16 12:23:33 8 73.5
19-Mar-16 12:23:38 19-Mar-16 12:23:47 9 73.7
19-Mar-16 12:25:15 19-Mar-16 12:25:22 7 69.9
19-Mar-16 12:25:37 19-Mar-16 12:25:44 7 70.9
19-Mar-16 12:25:51 19-Mar-16 12:25:56 5 70.6
19-Mar-16 12:26:02 19-Mar-16 12:26:21 19 73.7
19-Mar-16 12:26:29 19-Mar-16 12:26:29 1 75.9
19-Mar-16 12:28:00 19-Mar-16 12:28:16 16 74.0
19-Mar-16 12:28:21 19-Mar-16 12:28:30 9 74.2
19-Mar-16 12:28:35 19-Mar-16 12:28:38 3 71.8
19-Mar-16 12:28:39 19-Mar-16 12:28:41 2 73.9
19-Mar-16 12:28:43 19-Mar-16 12:28:47 4 74.4
  Total 112 73.0

Tony added: “The results for both jet washing and valeting were obtained rapidly provided good data to characterise the sources under investigation, and the use of the marker facility in the Noise Tools software automatically calculated the period LAeq. With the minimum of effort this translated into a BS4142:2014 assessment for evaluation of the impact of noise from jet wash activities on the site.”

The BS4142:2014 assessments noted the following:

Receptor Location Rating Level Impact assessment Comment
Spraying 64 +13dB Unacceptable impact
Hoover & Valeting 58 +7dB Adverse Impact
Garage repair 67 +16dB Unacceptable impact

Based on the Optimus Green measurements and data, recommendations to mitigate noise issues were put forward by Environconsult:

  • Spraying activities should be located inside the car wash building.  Additional barriers should be put in place and PVC curtains installed to help contain noise from jet wash spraying inside the building, additionally the motor for the jet wash should be enclosed.  These measures should achieve a minimum of 10dB attenuation.
  • The car valeting facility is less problematic, but an enclosure placed around the vacuum cleaner should significantly reduce noise emissions.
  • The car repair activity can easily be controlled by closing the main roller shutter doors when equipment is in use or repairs are taking place.

This may not have been the most glamourous of locations to work in but thanks to the combined expertise of Tony with the Cirrus Research Optimus Green Sound Level Meter, local residents were assured a quieter environment whilst allowing a defunct facility to re-open and provide local employment opportunities.

NB: Cirrus meter taking residual and background measurements