Environmental Noise

Last Updated: February 05, 2024
Meter showing decible level

​​​Environmental Noise Branch

​​Environmental Noise produced by military training and testing activities (i.e., military weapons firing or weapons systems operations and aircraft) is often referred to within the DoD as Operational Noise. Thus, these terms may be used interchangeably.

Services offered by the Environmental Noise Branch include Installation Compatible Use Zone (ICUZ) studies, National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) support, consultative services, noise modeling, and on-site noise monitoring of military noise sources​.

Populations served by environmental noise ma​nagement activities include patients in Medical Treatment Facilities (MTF); including wounded warrior facilities, children in Child Development Centers (CDCs), soldier and civilian office workers, family housing occupants and deployed troops. Environmental noise management also pertains to individuals and/or communities outside the installation boundary, but in the vicinity of military ranges and airfields.

Note: Representative C-weighted Day-Night average sound Level (CDNL) Noise Zones generated by demolition and large caliber weapon activity.​


An Installation Compatible Use Zone (ICUZ) study provides a strategy for noise management in the areas surrounding a military facility. Elements of the ICUZ include mili​tary noise analysis, noise background and metrics, complaint management, and when necessary, noise abatement procedures. The ICUZ study examines noise exposure associated with military testing/training operations, and provides land use guidelines for achieving compatibility. The ICUZ can assist both installation personnel and local government officials.


The Environmental Noise Branch can assist in all aspects of military noise analysis for compliance with National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requirements. Services include range and aircraft noise modeling, development of noise assessment reports for existing activities and proposed alternatives, and review of noise specific sections in Environmental Assessments (EA) and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS).


The Noise Branch has expertise in DoD approved computer based noise models for aircraft, small arms, and large caliber weapons (including explosive charges). Noise contours are used to evaluate land use compatibility and determine audibility/complaint risk of existing and proposed operations. 



The Environmental Noise Branch can assist Army and other DoD personnel with information and/or document review for matters pertaining to noise generated by military training and operations.  This can include information and/or document review for Army Compatible Use BufferExternal Link and Compatible Use Plan (formerly Joint Land Use Study)External Link​ development, as well as guidance on using contouring to establish priority areas and Military Compatibility Areas (MCA). Additionally, the Noise Branch can offer information regarding aspects necessary for developing effective and comprehensive Noise Management Programs. 



Although noise modeling is the primary means of assessing environmental noise impacts, the Environmental Noise Branch has the expertise and equipment to conduct on-site noise monitoring. Monitoring can offer valuable information regarding specific noise levels, when the source or operations cannot be modeled or in instances when recorded data are used as a community relations tool.


Traditional training opportunities for 'military' Environmental Noise are generally limited. However, there are resources available online, such as webinars produced by REPIExternal Link​ w​hich provide an introduction to noise, and a variety of other topics including JLUS, Natural Resources, Sentinel Landscapes, and TE&S. 

Effective Community EngagementExternal Link

Can You Hear Me Now? Addressing Noise Impacts in Your REPI PartnershipExternal Link

Additional relevant webinar files:


For those with a CAC there are two courses available on Navy E-LearningExternal Link​:

  • Introduction to the Air Installations Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) Program (NAVFAC-AICUZ-INTRO-1.0)
  • Advanced Concepts in Air Installations Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) Program Implementation (NAVFAC-AICUZ-ADVANCED-1.0)​

The Department of Defense Community and Environmental Primer Resources websiteExternal Link​ contains various DODIs, laws, policies, and technical bulletins related to environmental noise for all Services.​ 

​Fact Sheets/Tip Sheets


• ​ ​DoD Operational Noise ProgramExternal Link​. Established policy and assigns responsibilities for a coordinated DoD noise program. It also provides for establishment of a DoD Noise Working Group (DNWG).

​• Title 40, Chapter V, CFR Part 1500-1508External Link – National Environmental policy Act (NEPA). Federal law that requires the review of all federally supported activities that have the potential to impact the environment.

• ​​AR 200-1 Environmental Protection and EnhancementExternal Link​ Chapter 14 contains policy to develop, implement, and maintain noise programs that promote long-term compatible land use on and in the vicinity of Army installations.​​​​

​​Environmental Noise:

Noise levels below where hearing protection is required (i.e. Health Hazard or Hearing Conservation thresholds), but are high enough to produce other negative effects and/or interfere with quality of life. Characteristically tied to land use and/or annoyance/quality of life. Applies to populations both on and offpost.​​​


TG 044 Suggested Procedures for Handling and Documenting Noise Complaints at Army Installations

Provides practical information on developing and maintaining a Noise Complaint Management Program

DoD Community and Environmental Noise Primer 

A resource for involvement and education of public citizens and local government officials, as well as installation personnel. http://dodnoise.org/External Link


The primary effect of environmental/operational noise on exposed communities is short-and long-term annoyance, defined by the USEPA (1974)External Link​ as any negative subjective reaction on the part of an individual or group. Other negative effects of noise include classroom learning disruption, sleep disturbance, speech interference, and productivity loss. In addition, Studies have been conducted to examine the non-auditory health effects of aircraft and weapons (impulsive) noise exposure, focusing primarily on stress response, blood pressure, birth weight, mortality rates, and cardiovascular health. To date, direct results have been inconclusive; however, more research is needed in this field.​​

Note: Representative A-weighted Day-Night average sound Level (ADNL) Noise Zones generated by aviation activity at an airfield.