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Energy consumption to create an acceptable indoor environment is an important factor which defines a “Green” building. Natural ventilation can help reduce the energy required to effectively ventilate the interior of a building provided that the outdoor air is fresh or not polluted. However, adopting natural ventilation in residential buildings is not a straight-forward task as the provision of the former requires openings on the building façades such that noise intrusion from the outdoor will worsen the indoor acoustical environment. This problem is very serious in a high-rise densely built residential environment. Over the past few decades, researchers have made good effort in finding out effective natural ventilation-enabling noise reduction devices for use in buildings. Balconies, eaves, louvres and solar shadings have been investigated, but the various reflections, such as those from these devices at the upper floors, have largely erased their overall noise screening effect. Recently, a plenum window design has been proposed and tested at sites. Results show that it can offer about 8 dB higher traffic noise reduction than the traditional casement windows, while it can maintain an acceptable level of natural ventilation. The installation of sound absorption and/or rigid sound scatterers can further improve its noise reduction capacity by 4 to 5 dB, depending on the size of the plenum.
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