Welcome back to part two of our conversation with Simon Gosling, chief marketing officer at Quiet Mark, about how noise is affecting our modern lives. In this concluding discussion, Simon joins us to explore how we can reduce noise pollution in our built environment to create a quieter, healthier and more productive world.
Designflooring: In the first part of our conversation we chatted about the problems caused by noise and how, as a result of Covid lockdowns, consumers, employees and businesses are becoming more aware of the health and wellbeing impacts of noise pollution. Are you seeing more manufacturers innovating and producing the noise reducing materials specifiers require and what do you think will be needed for the future?
Simon: Product manufacturers have come on leaps and bounds, creating products that transform acoustics and user experience in the built environment without necessarily impacting on the visual aesthetic.
It was interesting to speak on our podcast with Shane Cryer, concept developer for Education at Saint-Gobain Ecophon Ltd, about acoustics in education and a project where sound-absorbing ceilings and extra low-frequency absorbers were installed in classrooms. As a result of this acoustic treatment pupil absenteeism reduced, teachers reported better wellbeing and mental health and exam results improved.
Designflooring: Last February Quiet Mark launched its Acoustic Academy. What are the objectives for the academy and how do you envisage that this resource will help the construction sector reduce noise pollution?
Simon: Each year, Quiet Mark reassesses the products it certifies and only the top 20-30% get certification for that year so to retain the award manufacturers are continually improving the quality of their products. Our new Acoustics Academy is a one-stop online hub which aims to inform and empower the building industry by providing a catalogue of these expert-approved acoustic materials, products and solutions.
With the launch of our Acoustics Academy Quiet Mark can now offer specifiers and consumers a more informed choice about products which can reduce unwanted noise and create the most pleasant soundscapes. In addition to the appliances and technologies that generate noise inside our homes and offices, we also list certified acoustic products that build our homes and offices, including glazing, wall panels, heat pumps, doors, flooring, stone wool insulation, commercial ventilation and acoustic plaster ceiling surfaces.
Designflooring: The Acoustics Academy is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to make improvements to the internal environment but do you think the external environment and nature also has a role to play in creating peace and tranquillity within our indoor spaces?
Simon: Incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into the built environment has been demonstrated to reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity, creativity and self-reported rates of wellbeing.
On our podcast I talked to designer Oliver Heath (Oliver Heath Design, globally recognised as an expert in biophilic and interior design) about the many benefits of biophilic design in a range of settings, including workplaces, healthcare, residential and hospitality, and how this can increase value and return on investment. We discussed how biophilic design and access to nature can bring benefits such as improving productivity in offices by 8%, reducing post-operative recovery time by 8.5%, reducing crime in residential areas by 7-8 % and increasing the price hotel guests are willing to pay by 23%.
Designflooring: It has been interesting to hear many employees say that they have enjoyed working at home during lockdown but they would like to combine this with time in the office to collaborate with colleagues. What do you think employees will expect from the workplace going forward?
Simon: Lockdown has provided us with an opportunity to recognise the chaotic pace of our lives and take stock so I think many workers will be reluctant to return to their offices even once it becomes safe to do so.
We are seeing businesses at the vanguard of workplace design invest heavily in biophilic design to improve worker concentration, engagement and cognitive ability but also to attract and retain talent in a competitive world. When we work with businesses to improve the sound quality of their buildings, we often suggest they may like to consider getting certified by the International WELL Building Institute.
The International WELL Building Institute is leading the global movement to transform our buildings and communities in ways that puts people before places and helps them thrive. On our podcast, I spoke with Ethan Bourdeau from the Institute about how the WELL certification takes a holistic approach to building health assessing aspects such as air, light and sound qualities. We talked about how this award will help businesses demonstrate a commitment to health and wellbeing and so entice workers out of their homes and attract them back into the workplace.
Designflooring: Does the outlook on acoustics in Europe differ in any way to the UK when it comes to design?
Simon: Quiet Mark is a global certification and we work with 80 manufacturers across 61 product categories. Since the outbreak of the pandemic when people started spending so much more time at home, quiet and Quiet Mark certified products have become more in demand. We have seen an increase in manufacturers applying for certification and this has seen the number of certified products on our website rise from 350 to over 1000. The majority of the manufacturers we work with are global businesses serving international markets so this suggests that concerns with noise disturbance is increasing all across Europe and the rest of the world.
With this awareness of the dangers of noise pollution and commitment to long lasting improvements to our health and wellbeing, we hope that we can inspire a ‘quiet revolution’ which will help us all improve the acoustics of our built environment and achieve a more harmonious aural environment for the future.
A big thank you to Simon for taking the time to chat with us. To find out more about Quiet Mark, to listen to the Quiet Mark Podcast or to explore the Acoustics Academy, visit www.quietmark.com