Archive for September, 2011

Beating the Heat: Sound Insulation Provides More than Noise Control

Monday, September 19th, 2011

by J. Eric Cox

It has been a very hot summer; in fact it was the fifth warmest on record for the Northern Hemisphere. Several parts of the country are experiencing severe drought, including Texas. HMMH has recently been conducting pre- and post-construction sound insulation measurements around several airports in these particularly hot and humid conditions:

 Working outdoors in extreme weather with the heat index typically approaching 110 has presented HMMH personnel with many unique challenges. In addition to always remembering sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses as well as being careful to stay hydrated, we have learned to avoid burns from hot metal equipment, evade Texas red wasps, dodge Florida thunderstorms, record information on and preserve sweat-soaked data sheets, politely convince residents to turn off air conditioning and open curtains/blinds during acoustical testing and work around increased indoor activity since it is often too hot for homeowners to take children, the elderly, or pets away from the home.

While the main purpose of a sound insulation program is to reduce residents’ exposure to indoor noise generated by arriving and departing aircraft, there is another significant ancillary benefit that should not be overlooked: increased thermal insulation. That’s right, sound insulation also makes a building greener, decreasing energy consumption and homeowner utility costs. I have always found interacting with homeowners and assisting in a program that improves their quality of life quite rewarding. It is nice to know we are also helping to reduce their carbon footprint and associated monthly costs as a bonus.

HMMH personnel have worked in extreme weather at the other end of the spectrum too, where homeowners are also likely to experience benefits beyond noise abatement. As I write this, we are next scheduled to conduct post-construction acoustical testing at Our Lady Help of Christians, a historic Catholic church near to Buffalo-Niagara International. We are also providing on-going acoustical services for the residential sound insulation program at the airport. In addition to Buffalo NY, our team has conducted sound insulation measurements in the snow in several locations, including Alaska and…believe it or not (I have the photo to prove it folks)…Tulsa International in Oklahoma!

Bucket Truck in Tulsa, OK

My 9-11 Heroes

Friday, September 9th, 2011

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I must admit that there’s been so much hype leading up to the 9/11 anniversary that I’ve been dreading the idea of reading yet another blog post on the subject, much less writing one.  But here I am.

My daughter (who was four years old in 2001) came home from high school yesterday with an assignment to “interview someone” on the impacts of 9/11 on America, her parents, etc.   As is often the case with her homework, I deflected the responsibility to my husband, who railed about George Bush’s response that day and the loss of civil liberties that we’ve experienced since.

One of the questions in my daughter’s interview was whether we knew anyone who was directly affected.  So over the last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about my two 9/11 heroes, and how their lives were changed forever:

  • Betty Desrosiers is Director of Aviation Planning and Strategy for Massport.  I’ve known her for many years, and our professional lives most often intersect at public meetings or other venues where Betty (and Massport) are working to mitigate the impacts of Boston Logan Airport (or Hanscom Field) on the surrounding communities.  Which includes noise, of course.   As part of her strategic planning responsibility, Betty developed Massport’s Family Assistance Center, which quickly fills a critical void in an emergency by providing information, aid, comfort and compassion to friends and family of individuals involved in a transportation disaster. Betty activated and directed the Family Assistance Center at Boston Logan on 9/11 and maintained the center for many days after the terrorist attack.  
  • Mike O’Neil was my first real boss and mentor.  In 1979, I was a counselor at Camp Marycrest in Grande Isle (VT) and Mike was Head of the Waterfront.  I learned much from Mike: how to tie a bowline, how paddle a canoe well enough to teach campers (my first practice at consulting, I guess), and other extra-curricular activities that the camp nuns shouldn’t have known about (but somehow did).  I lost touch with Mike for many years, but we reconnected at a Marycrest reunion a couple of years ago (turns out he also got a lot out of that summer, most importantly meeting his wife).  Mike has served as Fire Chief in both South Burlington and Burlington, and is now Emergency Management Director for the State of Vermont (a busy job the last couple of weeks in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene!).  In 2001, though, Mike worked at Ground Zero for four weeks, starting on 9/12.  Mike’s reaction to Osama Bin Laden’s death and his story was chronicled in the Burlington Free Press

It occurs to me that what I’ve chosen to remember about 9/11 is not the pain or fear caused by the attacks, but the humanity and goodness demonstrated by so many people in their response to that day.  That is what patriotism means to me.  And this post is for them.