Thursday, 19 December 2019 16:43

A sound solution to bypassing landfill

    Roughly 12 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year. It’s a sobering thought and finally seems to have the Government’s attention but some of us are already committed to the environment – with Soundtect one of many companies that uses more than 70% of recycled polyester to manufacture its acoustic solutions.

    Long gone are the days when a business was judged solely by its ability to deliver goods. Today, the way of delivery and how the products themselves impact the environment and society are also considered important, and rightfully so.

    In fact, Soundtect panels are a third-generation product, having been recycled from post-consumer plastic to exhibition carpets before their next use as sound-absorbing solutions, and guess what? They can be recycled again; so the cycle continues.

    But why is sustainable acoustic treatment in today’s buildings so important? Besides awe-inspiring decor, sound ambience is often the most direct factor impacting a customer’s experience at a restaurant, a child’s ability to learn at school, an employee’s productivity and a significant factor in stress management in a public place.

    An overwhelming majority of the harsh noise you experience in a room is the result of sound bouncing off the ceilings, floors and any other hard surfaces in that room. As a result, reverberant sound mixes with direct sound and causes an acoustic issue that makes listening and communicating extremely difficult.

    Given that only a mere 5% of the echoes produced in the room can be absorbed by hard, reflective surfaces, the remaining 95% will continue to carry through the space, creating an unpleasant background noise that pushes conversations to raise in volume; compromising privacy and reducing wellbeing.

    So how do they work? There are generally two types of treatment for reverberation – absorption and diffusion. Absorption is the trapping of noise by the fabric of the acoustic panel and diffusion is the breaking up and scattering of the soundwaves. Most acoustic panels on the market address sound absorption. Sound diffusion, on the other hand, is more challenging to address because it requires acoustic panels to have (instead of a flat, linear surface) surfaces with varying depths, curves or other three-dimensional construction.

    An acoustic product that addresses both absorption and diffusion is far more effective in controlling noise, and for this reason, many acoustic panels are manufactured from fabric.

    Wool, polyester fibres and foam are all porous so allow the sound that hits them to be absorbed into the panel themselves where it becomes trapped. Soundtect goes a little bit further, however, by working with the environment – not against it – and using wasted PET to manufacture its products. This sustainable approach to noise control is as important to the business as the products themselves.

    Clerkenwell-based Soundtect offers a wide range of solutions to cover any sector and noise issue. Its 3D panel range is both highly decorative and super absorbent, adding a touch of something special to a room whilst addressing the noise with ease. The Class range of suspended baffles, rafts and circles and flat wall panels are a proven superb solution to reverberation – especially in areas with a large volume of people such as call centres, school sports halls and restaurants – and the newly launched ‘Freestyle’ is the latest string to its bow. This latest offering is proving highly popular as it offers designers complete freedom to create something entirely unique and the Timba range is already a highly sought-after product, offering a lightweight, absorbent and sustainable alternative to heavy wood products.

    Whether you need to install acoustic panels for your office, conference room, classroom, auditorium, retail outlet, restaurant, theatre or any other setting where managing the level and quality of sound is paramount, you can heave a sigh of relief that you won’t have to sweat over it. Installation is very straightforward. In fact, most manufacturers have created systems that are very easy to install for wall or ceiling applications.

    And whilst it is easy to retrofit acoustic panels into a building, it is challenging to upheave an office and costly to the company in lost working hours while the building is treated.

    The beauty of the acoustic solutions on offer in today’s market allows the reverberation treatment to be very much a part of the design and in many cases, the feature in an otherwise understated concept. It seems we are finally listening to the roar of the people to create the silence we crave.

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    Inex magazine and its complementary website is the ultimate specification resource for design professionals working in both the domestic and commercial marketplaces.

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