Noisy neighbours, colleagues shouting into mobiles, impatient traffic jams, the stop-start of construction drilling or just the relentless bark of a dog next door — we all know the agony of noise pollution.
And it is a problem with serious implications. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says excessive noise is responsible for health problems ranging from heart disease, disrupted sleep and stress to reduced work performance, impaired learning for children and negative social behaviour. Noise pollution is also becoming widespread in places where it matters most — our homes and workplaces.
In Europe, for example, traffic noise is harmful to almost one in three people, says the WHO, with 20% of Europeans suffering noise at night that could impact their health. Maro Puljizević knows a lot about noise pollution. As the new Acoustics Project Manager at our Core Research and Development Department, he believes everyone deserves a quiet life.
Why are we more aware of noise pollution?
Our world is being urbanised on an unprecedented scale. Populations keep growing, cities are more crowded and our lives are supercharged with technology and endless social interactions. People realise this way of life is negative — particularly constant exposure to unwanted sounds and high levels of noise. Stress and the inability to relax have skyrocketed, so it is unsurprising people are claiming back the peace and quiet they deserve.
How can we improve our acoustic health?
First, we must become aware of our acoustic footprint and its impact. For example, installing a paper shredder next to our colleague’s desk might not be the most responsible thing to do. Secondly, people should turn to proven acoustic solutions; and properly isolate themselves from unwanted sounds. That is where Knauf Insulation is at its best, with numerous tailored solutions for all aspects of noise control.
Has acoustic well-being entered the building mainstream?
For some time, the notion of ‘green buildings’ has been gaining the recognition it deserves. Initially, that action was driven by energy consumption requirements. However, it was soon realised that quality of life goes beyond energy consumption; with acoustics playing an important role.
And this is changing building requirements?
Acoustics are gaining importance in sustainability frameworks around the world — and we will see more solid acoustic requirements for design and construction of future buildings. Moreover, acoustics will also become central to renovation works. Exceptional acoustics will no longer be a privilege of opera halls and theatres alone.
What new product trends are you seeing?
Trends in material development continue to focus on sustainable, recyclable and environmentally-friendly solutions. Acoustic performance will continue to improve and possibly see integration with ‘smart’ systems and 3D printed solutions that are gaining in popularity. Knauf Insulation will be at the forefront of this technology.
What really matters when it comes to acoustic performance?
The acoustic properties of insulating materials are paramount, but we rarely rely on a single material alone to do the job. An entire system — whether walls, roofs, facades or even washing-machine enclosures — has to perform. As well as improving the acoustic capabilities of our products, we work with manufacturers of systems and components to optimise the acoustic performance of their final product. At the pinnacle of that synergy are Knauf Group acoustic solutions, particularly for new builds and building renovation. Acoustic, thermal and fire-resistant performance is synchronised to perfection.
How is Knauf Insulation improving acoustic performance?
We continuously work to increase sound insulating and sound absorbing capabilities of our products at a microscopic scale, looking into the optimal chemical composition, fibre size and synergy with other materials. We utilise cutting-edge technologies and invent new materials that might shape the future.
And customer input is vital too?
We carefully listen to the market and genuine needs of people. That is where most of our ideas for improvement come from. We improve acoustic performance to address real life problems. Whether that leads to an insulation that is thinner, lighter, biodegradable or just aesthetically more appealing, we are committed to solve real life problems with our technical expertise.
What examples of innovation you would like to highlight?
DRS Sound Supreme Board provides excellent sound insulation and it is made with a combination of our Mineral Wool and other environmentally-friendly materials. It is a result of acoustic research and is made by a unique patented technological process. It is important because it presents a simple, effective solution to a common complaint: noise propagation through doors. DRS Sound Supreme Board has been intelligently designed as the insulation for door cores, and has been embraced widely by the market due to its high sound-insulating capacity and ease of installation.
How successful has it been?
If you have recently spent the night in a very quiet hotel room, it could be that our innovation did the job. We are also exploring other advantages of the innovation — it reduces impact noise, acts as a sound absorber and has excellent fire and thermal properties. We are excited to continue the research and fully realise its potential.
What does the future hold for acoustic performance?
Limits will be pushed to provide higher acoustic performance with lower mass, thinner materials and reduced cost. While Mineral Wool will remain at the centre of the industry, new composite structures will be developed and intelligently engineered to manipulate sound waves in ways we cannot yet imagine.
How does Knauf Insulation fit into this future?
We are continuously improving our products today, but we aim to lead the insulation world of tomorrow. Imagine acoustic insulation you can activate with your smartphone or turning your living room wall into a loudspeaker. It might sound Utopian but challenges like that make us deliver the outstanding and maintain Knauf as the synonym for insulation.
• To learn more about how our solutions can improve your acoustic health visit https://www.knaufinsulation.com/what-we-do/expertise/acoustics.