Healthcare Acoustics Project


The Healthcare Acoustics Project (HAP) is an independent, all-volunteer community of professionals that develops national and international codes and standards for the $2.8 trillion health care industry. HAP was formed in 2005 by David M. Sykes, William J. Cavanaugh, and Gregory C. Tocci to develop the USA’s first comprehensive, evidence-based criteria for acoustics (sound, vibration, privacy and noise control) in health care facilities. Its first comprehensive draft guidelines were published for peer-review by FGI in June 2006, and formally published in January 2010.

HAP members are thought leaders drawn from six fields: medicine, public health, acoustical science and engineering, architecture and design, and healthcare facilities management. HAP has been honored to receive research grants, publishing contracts, and other forms of support from several foundations, science publisher Springer-Verlag, and other sponsors who value it as an independent, objective authority.

HAP is a program of the non-profit organization, Quiet Communities, Inc.


HAP is commissioned by and responsible to the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI), a former unit of the U.S. Public Building Service. In 1947, FGI was charged under the Congressional Hill-Burton Act with developing national building codes and guidelines for the healthcare industry, today worth $2.8 trillion or nearly 20% of US GDP.

*FGI was privatized in 1985 but continues to be supported by and to work in cooperation with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service, the American Hospital Association, the American Institute of Architects and with federal and state regulatory agencies to ensure that all types of “environments of care” are designed, engineered, built or renovated consistent with America’s health care needs and priorities. 


The work of FGI and HAP is continuous and dynamic, modeled on a Continuous Improvement Process. The process is punctuated every four years by the publication of updated FGI Guidelines. The Guidelines are distributed to regulatory agencies across the USA (44 states adopt the Guidelines as state building codes; the remaining states use the Guidelines to draft their own codes and standards), as well as to practitioners and regulators in 87 countries, and to other national and international standard-setting groups like the U.S. Green Building Council’s “LEED for Healthcare,” the International Code Council, ASHRAE and others. The most recent edition of the FGI Guidelines was published in early 2018 and consists of ~900 pages, divided into three volumes: one volume each for hospitals, outpatient facilities, and residential care. The next edition of all three volumes of the FGI Guidelines will be published in 2022.

Rationale & Goal

FGI’s Continuous Improvement Process provides HAP with unique and frequent access to clinical settings and healthcare professionals as well as unprecedented opportunities to organize and conduct clinically-based, trans-disciplinary research. This work serves as the foundation for developing evidence-based best practices about the effects of sound, vibration, privacy and noise on patients and their families as well as doctors, nurses and all types of health care providers from across America’s economic and geographic landscape. This trans-disciplinary, national focus anchored in clinical settings has helped restore the health effects of noise, sound and vibration to the public health agenda in the USA.


HAP consists of three separate committees:

  1. The Executive Committee (known as the Acoustics Proposal Review Committee: is a 15-member trans-disciplinary group whose members are nominated by the HAP’s leadership and appointed by FGI’s board for 4-year terms. A list of the current members of the Executive Committee may be obtained from the chairman of HAP, or from FGI;
  2. HAP’s core group, a ~400 member “open community” that meets virtually to advise and act as a sounding-board for the Executive Committee;
  3. An independent ~1000-member online forum hosted and managed by a vice-chair of the HAP. This forum fields inquiries about healthcare acoustics from the USA and around the world and poses questions and research topics for consideration by HAP and its Executive Committee.


HAP is actively engaged in six types of activities in addition to its core activity of writing, editing, interpreting and responding to inquiries about the FGI Guidelines:


  1. Organizing, fundraising, and participating in third-party research, e.g., Sleep disruption due to hospital noise: a prospective evaluation, Annals of Internal Medicine, 2012
  2. Leading or supporting the development of consensus-based standards through recognized standards development organizations like ASA/ANSI, ASTM, and ASHRAE, e.g.,  ANSI S12-70
  3. Organizing delegations to participate in national “summits” on urgent public health topics such as “alarm fatigue” in order to encourage decisive action by regulatory authorities;
  4. Conducting outreach to organizations such as USGBC-LEED, and ICC in order to “harmonize” and/or “internationalize” the development of comprehensive criteria, e.g., LEED HC-Acoustics 
  5. Publishing books, technical papers, and articles on topics related to the work of HAP, e.g., Sound & Vibration 2.0 (Springer-Verlag), Sound Matters (US GSA)
  6. Presenting at national, international and regional professional conferences to encourage awareness of the importance of clinically-focused work on the public health effects of sound, vibration, privacy and noise, e.g.,  Sixty-Fifth Anniversary of Noise and Health

Additional Resources


David M. Sykes, Co-founder and Chairman at [email protected].


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