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Acoustics (Noise) Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce acoustical impacts (noise) from biomass energy development.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce noise impacts depending upon site- and project-specific conditions. Noise impacts are related to the source of the noise (e.g., vehicles, construction equipment, agricultural equipment, forest-harvesting equipment, workers, blasting, and project facility components), the proximity to the noise receptor (e.g., humans and wildlife), and the times of day at which noise-producing activities are taking placer. Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when taken into account during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for the project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:

  • Proponents of a biomass energy facility should take measurements to assess the existing background noise levels at a given site and compare them with the anticipated noise levels associated with the proposed project. Nearby residences and likely sensitive receptors should be identified at this time.
  • Locate all stationary equipment (i.e., compressors and generators) as far as practicable from nearby residences and other sensitive receptors.
  • Locate permanent sound-generating facilities away from residences and other sensitive receptors. In areas of known conflicts, consideration should be given to the installation of acoustic screening.
  • Where feasible, incorporate low-noise systems, such as ventilation systems, pumps, generators, compressors, and fans.
  • To the extent practicable, site any transmission line right-of-way (ROW) to avoid residential areas and important wildlife habitat areas (e.g., rookeries, raptor nesting areas, and calving areas).

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a biomass energy project include:

  • Limit noisy activities (including blasting) to the least noise-sensitive times of day (weekdays only between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.).
  • All equipment should have sound-control devices no less effective than those provided on the original equipment. Motorized equipment should be adequately muffled and maintained.
  • Enclose the noise source, if feasible.
  • Notify nearby residents in advance when blasting or other noisy activities are required.
  • Whenever feasible, schedule different noisy activities (e.g., blasting and earthmoving) to occur at the same time, since additional sources of noise generally do not add a significant amount of noise. That is, less-frequent noisy activities would be less annoying than frequent less-noisy activities.
  • To the extent feasible, route heavy-truck and rail traffic away from residences and other sensitive receptors.

Project Phase-Specific Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures specific to a particular phase of a biomass energy project include:

Biomass Production

  • Implement no-till agriculture to eliminate noise from this phase of farming.
  • Displace annual crops with perennial biomass crops to decrease the overall level of activity involving large farm machinery each year.


  • Insulate the buildings housing the biomass facility to minimize noise from large turbines, generators, pumps, transformers, and other equipment.
  • Install sound control devices (baffles, silencers) to limit noise levels of facility equipment.
  • Locate cooling towers so that the louvered side faces away from sensitive receptors. If possible, locate cooling towers in such a manner that nearby equipment can act as a barrier to provide additional noise reduction.
  • Limit noisy activities such as chipper equipment to the least noise-sensitive times of day (weekdays only between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.).
  • Post warning signs in high-noise areas and implement a hearing protection program for work areas where noise exceeds 85 A-weighted decibels (dBA).