I recently ordered a privacy noise machine to test out for our long-term care projects in spaces where HR or payroll/billing issues are discussed. The noise that comes out of the machine is similar to that of really loud air conditioning unit. At first it was very noticeable; then I suddenly found myself able to focus more on the tasks at hand. The machine does not take away noise—it just makes it so that you can't understand conversations being had by others around you.
I was surprised at how this reduced my stress and allowed me to concentrate. People passing by would comment about how noisy and annoying the machine must be for me, but I actually found that I preferred having the “loud air conditioned sound” to being able to hear everything said in the office. And this got me thinking about resident rooms and PTAC units (through the wall heating and air-conditioning units that are typically placed under windows).
When we are working on new build projects, the owners and operators always have negative thoughts about these PTAC systems due to fact they look like those in a less expensive hotel and are noisier than a VAV duct system. Ultimately, these people succumb to the Value Engineering process and end up with PTAC units.
Once installed, they rarely get brought up again.
The largest complaint by fair during the design process is the noise these units create. Although I have not encountered a resident complaining, I know that staff does. The noise brings me full circle to the noise of my privacy machine. I wonder if we were able to do an actual study or survey (at the least) if residents would prefer the noise of PTAC units, as I have come to prefer the noise of my privacy machine. It's certainly worth talking about.