When it comes to designing commercial environments, the impact of acoustics is often underestimated.
We all know that loud noise can be annoying and distracting—even painful. But the non-auditory effects of noise exposure are as widespread as they are unrecognized. The good news? Today, you can find sound control solutions that add style while they suppress sound. And they don’t have to break the bank.
In this installment, you’ll discover:
The effects of excess noise
Key terms and sound control techniques
Popular acoustical solutions
How to choose acoustical solutions
Why do acoustics matter? Noise puts the entire nervous system into a state of acute alertness. In this state, the body is flooded with hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, causing increased heart rate, breathing and muscle tension. That’s ideal for a brief fight or flight situation—but not ongoing exposure.
75% of employees feel that better acoustics are important to an effective workplace.
Good acoustics in the classroom provide a healthier environment for students and instructors and help improve educational success.
Better acoustics encourage guests to stay longer, spend more per visit, and be more likely to return.
Before we look at ways to manage unwanted sound, let's review a few important terms and techniques related to sound control.
A few key terms to understand:
The ability of a material to reduce reverberant sound in a room. Measured on a scale of 0 (absorbs no sound) to 1 (absorbs all sound).
NRC Ratings: 0.70=Good, 0.80=Better, 0.90=Best
A rating that indicates a product’s effectiveness in reducing airborne sound transmission. The higher the STC, the better.
STC Ratings: 25-30 Poor, 30-35 Fair, 35-40 Good, 40-50 Very Good, 50-60 Excellent
Sound absorption materials reduce the reverberant sound in a room, lowering the effective sound level.
A physical barrier between the source and listener helps to stop sound energy from traveling from one area to another.
A masking sound such as white noise can help neutralize conversation and ambient noise for more privacy and focus.
Scattering or spreading out the sound energy within a space improves speech intelligibility and clarity.
Here are some of the simplest and most popular acoustical treatments for light commercial applications, including offices, schools and hospitality venues. New materials are creating exciting color, style and design possibilities.
These decorative panels are attached to existing walls to help absorb sound and reduce reverberation.
This cost-effective, easy-to-install solution “drops in” to a suspended ceiling grid to reduce unwanted noise.
Modular cubicle partitions and privacy screens block and absorb sound while visually separating workspaces.
Suspended from high ceilings, sound baffles help reduce ambient echo and reverberation in large open spaces.
Acoustic flooring materials and techniques help mitigate impact noise from walking and daily activities.
From seating and storage to cord management solutions, look for options made of acoustical materials.
Sound control solutions come in a wide variety of materials from wood to fiberglass, fabric and foam. Traditional acoustic ceiling tiles made of mineral fiber and wastepaper pulp are inexpensive but prone to breaking and staining. Designer acoustical treatments can be artistic but expensive. Recently, another alternative has been gaining popularity for its many physical, aesthetic and acoustical advantages: eco-friendly PET.
Despite its complicated name, Polyethylene Terephthalate, or PET, is an incredibly eco-friendly and versatile material. Here are a few of the reasons why designers, architects and contractors are turning to innovative acoustical solutions made of PET.
PET acoustic panels can outperform traditional acoustic ceiling tiles with sound absorption performance of 0.75 to 1.00 NRC or more, depending on the manufacturer. (Genesis Products ceiling tiles can reach an NRC of 1.00 in some situations.)
Decorative acoustic panels like Qwel™ designer acoustic tiles add style while controlling sound. Lightweight, affordable and easy to use, they drop into a standard ceiling grid to give any space an instant upgrade.
PET can be custom fabricated in many colors, thicknesses, densities and shapes. An experienced PET fabricator like Genesis can devise innovative solutions that suppress excess sound and help you to meet specific acoustical requirements.
PET is made of up to 50% recycled material (like discarded water bottles) and is 100% recyclable, helping to keep plastic waste out of the landfill.
Unlike some fiberglass acoustic panels, PET acoustic panels have no formaldehyde or phenolic resins. PET is nontoxic and odorless with no leaching or off-gassing and can achieve Class A ratings for fire and smoke.
PET tiles are washable and water-resistant, can tolerate high humidity, and also resist fading and impact, to help keep any space looking clean, inviting and well-maintained.
While the majority of PET comes from overseas, Genesis offers domestic supply, design and manufacturing capabilities. Working with a domestic provider can help to streamline timing and cost while offering better responsiveness and quality control.
And because of our in-house design, engineering and materials expertise in laminated panels, wood component and custom molded solutions Genesis can work with OEMs, architects and developers to streamline solutions for office, education, hospitality and healthcare projects.
“Consumers have become more aware of increased noise levels in their everyday lives. One of our goals is to improve the sound quality of spaces for work, relaxation, learning, or healing…to provide quiet spaces to enjoy life.”
– Jennifer Shaw, Product Development Engineer, Genesis Products
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