2013 Sound attenuation canopy Mid-Atlantic

Award Year 

High sound levels in work settings can have negative effects on worker concentration and productivity. Even offices separated by walls and doors transmit sound between them. As office buildings optimize space, the allotment for each person, office, or work area often decreases. With more office workers in a given area, localized noise levels are increasing beyond optimal levels for worker productivity.Some gains in controlling unwanted sound transmission can be made either by addressing the (more) composition or construction of the walls and doors that separate adjacent spaces, or by using insulation to seal voids or penetrations that could transfer sound. These conventional approaches still do not deliver the degree of sound attenuation often desired in a work setting since most noise travels from office to office through the space above the suspended interior ceiling, called a plenum, which is now common in modern office and laboratory buildings.The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Office of Research Operations (ORO) was confronted with this sound transmission problem while developing new office and laboratory space for its employees. The problem was solved by the invention of the Sound Attenuation Canopy (SAC), an inexpensive, green, simple, passive, low-cost invention that diffuses the transmission of sound from one office or laboratory to another. As an Institute within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIAID supports NIH’s mission to foster creative discoveries, innovative research strategies, and their applications as a basis for protecting and improving health. The SAC directly affects human health by improving workers’ working conditions and productivity.The NIAID Office of Technology Development advised ORO regarding the intellectual property protection process and, together with one of the inventors, identified a potential licensee. The NIH Office of Technology Transfer successfully negotiated a nonexclusive license with Transwall, a manufacturer of demountable architectural wall systems. The technology currently is used in an existing NIAID leased building, and will be installed in a NIAID facility currently under construction. Installation and use in other federal office and laboratory buildings is anticipated. The licensee is actively marketing the technology contemporaneously. (less)