October 10, 2014 | Written by: Naomi Millan | Featuring: Robert Berens | Original Publication: Building Operating Management

Open Plenum Ceilings Pose Acoustical Challenges

When considering interior design choices for office spaces, especially when dreaming up ways to attract and retain the newest generation of workers, the image that pops to mind is the high-tech warehouse look, in which an open plenum factors heavily. The space is left open to the deck, exposing joists and ductwork. It looks young and on-trend. The acoustical challenges aren’t necessarily a consideration. As anyone who has been a slave to fashion can attest, being trendy often comes at a price. For when it comes to open plenum designs, the major tradeoff is indeed in the acoustical performance of the space. For some use types, speech privacy, noise control, as well as control over other factors such as odors or vapors, are so important that an open plenum is highly undesirable. For many other use types, most offices for example, an open plenum design can be made to work, but only after rigorous evaluation of the space and meticulous management of the systems used.

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