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Technology-forcing to reduce environmental noise pollution: a prospectus
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  • Lauren M Kuehne,
  • Ed Habtour,
  • Tomás Méndez Echenagucia,
  • Steven J Orfield
Lauren M Kuehne
Omfishient Consulting

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Ed Habtour
William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, University of Washington
Tomás Méndez Echenagucia
Department of Architecture, College of Built Environments, University of Washington
Steven J Orfield
Orfield Laboratories Inc


Environmental movements of the late 20th century resulted in sweeping legislation and regulatory actions to reduce the prevalence of diverse pollutants. Although the consequences of noise pollution to public health, the environment, and the economy have been recognized over the same time period, noise has received far less policy attention. Correspondingly, even while recent decades have seen robust advancements in assessing the impacts of noise pollution, solutions and actual reductions in environmental noise have remained seemingly out of reach. To address this shortcoming, we developed a prospectus for environmental noise reduction through technology-forcing policies. Technology-forcing describes intent to encourage technological solutions for pollution control through policy and regulations, and has been a critical component of national and global progress in reducing environmental pollutants. We take advantage of the unique policy history for noise in the United States - which initially enacted, but then abandoned federal noise regulation. We compare this history against outcomes from contemporaneous environmental legislation for air, water, and occupational pollution control, to demonstrate the potential for technology-forcing to reduce noise pollution. Our review then identifies promising solutions, in the form of existing technologies suitable for innovation and diffusion through technology-forcing regulations and incentives. Based on this review, we outline a program for noise policy development that is intended to support efforts to reduce environmental noise pollution worldwide. The proposed program consists of three steps, 2 which are to (i) identify dominant sources of noise pollution, (ii) combine legislative or regulatory provisions with suitable systems of enforcement and incentives, and (iii) anticipate and prepare for stages of technological change. This work is intended to support and advocate for noise policies designed around technology-forcing, to advance technologies that not only improve public health and sustainable development, but ensure that these benefits are distributed equitably.
29 Dec 2023Submitted to TechRxiv
02 Jan 2024Published in TechRxiv