Free webinar and expert panel to discuss strategies for optimizing workplace acoustics

SoloOfficeHow does noise affect the occupants of the buildings you design? A growing body of research shows that prolonged exposure to noisy office environments can negatively impact productivity and job satisfaction. Daily exposure to common noise levels in offices—50 to 60 decibels on average—can result in lower productivity and more missed work days. Did you know it can take up to 15 minutes for an office worker to regain concentration after being distracted by noise?

Even scarier, studies have linked high levels of office noise to increased stress, fatigue, accidents and illness. And statistics show that when noise hits 65 decibels, the risk of heart attack increases.

These are impactful figures, and they represent an opportunity for architects and designers to positively influence people’s lives during the design phase of an office project. CertainTeed Ceilings will gather an expert panel of leading architects, physicists and engineers in the field for a discussion on these topics during a free AIA-accredited webinar on Wednesday, June 17, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. ET.

During the AIA-accredited course, we will cover the primary acoustic issues in office environments and why acoustics matter, along with strategies for:

  • Designing flexible spaces that maximize sound containment and meet the privacy needs of conducting business
  • Address acoustics in environments in which sound quality is paramount, such as multi-media training spaces and conference rooms
  • Minimize noise intrusion in office spaces near or adjacent to high-noise areas or city traffic
  • Achieve acoustical quality, enhance productivity, and maximize the worker experience in open-concept office environments
  • Remedy sound problems in retrofit applications

CertainTeed’s Building Knowledge Academy of Continuing Education is the industry’s most extensive and engaging collection of CEU course content. Our courses provide AIA credits and help architects specify smarter. Register today.

Smarter Skins 2 for Higher Performance Buildings

CertainTeed is pleased to introduce Building Knowledge insights that are focused on the Canadian market.  This is the second blog published by one of our Canadian experts.

There is a push globally for all building codes, including at the international level, towards net-zero construction by 2030.  Europe, which is somewhat ahead of the rest of the world in energy efficiency, in pushing for mandatory zero energy requirements by 2018.

Canadians are experts in adapting to cold extremes, developing performance codes and innovative Building Skins solutions and, therefore, have many insights when it comes to achieving this goal. Accordingly, Toronto (See my previous Blog) and Vancouver are two of the top energy efficiency leaders in buildings in North America.

I had the opportunity to share building science insights to several hundred architects at Building Industry events in Vancouver and Toronto. In Toronto, the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) are leaders with their own OAA+2030 program and I had the chance to co-present with a leading Architect, Contractor and University Team; the Smarter Skins 2 sequel in 2015 (SS 2015).  We know it was successful; as Smarter Skins 3 is already planned for 2016! What are some of the smarter building skin solutions from SS 2015 that contribute to higher performance and most important provide sustainable habitat for building occupants?

Halifax libraryIt is crucial to assess sustainable innovations at the design phase. You can’t change the window/wall ratio, air barrier system, insulation, or gypsum wall assemblies during or after construction, so it is critical to get it right!

SS 2015 presented the key principals for building smarter skin solutions including a case study from the CNN eye-popping and award winning New Halifax Library.

Halifax drawing

 

What is the principal lesson learned for large glass buildings if we also want to achieve higher performance?  It is the need for better architectural design that includes Building Science principles.  In the case of the Halifax Library, behind the glass skin veneer 54 percent of the walls are opaque walls constructed with insulation and drywall (See sample detail).  Therefore, by focusing on smarter wall and window assemblies, you can have inspirational views to the harbor and higher building envelope performance at lower cost.

In summary, design and build with smarter skins and your customers will come.  The recently opened Halifax Library has been experiencing Community usage approximately two times greater than expected and patrons are being inspired by the views to advance their knowledge.  Blog readers can also benefit from more Smarter Skins Higher Performance Buildings insights by following My Blog and attending CertainTeed’s  Architectural Insights Symposiums and Industry Partner Events that share smarter skins knowledge.

If you are working on creating smarter skins for all types of sustainable buildings, I would be interested in hearing about your projects and the materials and system skins you are using. For example, smarter skins are essential for more affordable mid-rise wood buildings now permitted in most Canadian Codes. Together, with Smarter Insights, we will achieve higher performance buildings today for our customers and move toward the goal of Net-Zero Energy.

Tips for Architects from the 2015 AIA Convention

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton

I asked Lucas Hamilton, Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation:

What is the most critical design element that Architects need to be aware of going forward in the built environment?

There are challenges in the new environment due to changes in the building codes but the most critical is indoor air quality – both with regard to building air tightness requirements and materials development.

This could be offset or decreased in importance if product transparency actually drives clear and better materials over time.

All that product transparency is showing us right now is just how bad the things we are using really are.  But that’s a starting point.  When we start looking at the transparency documents that are available in the market today, we realize that the things we are using are emitting a lot of materials and are not what we would start with in an ideal world.

One thing that transparency does drive is organic improvement in our building materials to be healthier for us.  But until that occurs, we have to take the information available to us which is so much more than we’ve ever had before and begin to address the issues.

The challenge has clearly been put before us.  Until materials improve, we have to pay very close attention to the materials we are currently using and how they work into our indoor air quality goals because the benefit of haphazard or uncontrolled natural ventilation has been removed from our future.

Free Webinar Tackles Optimum Energy Efficiency Performance for Low-Slope Roofing Systems

FlintBoard-Polyisocyanurate-Roof-Insulation-CertainTeed-Roofing--Low-Slope-L-Sweets-514613The right insulation product and application method is fundamental to a well-designed low-slope roof system. Thermal needs of a building, energy codes, cost savings and insurance criteria must also be considered. For these reasons polyisocyanurate, also referred to as PIR, polyiso, or ISO, is the most prevalent form of low slope roofing insulation, specified primarily for use in offices, health facilities, warehouses, retail and industrial manufacturing facilities and educational institutions.

Learn more by joining me for a free, hour-long lunchtime webinar, Low Slope Roofing Featuring Polyisocyanurate, on Wednesday, May 27 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. ET.

During this AIA accredited, Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) course, I’ll cover the background and current best practices of insulation in low-slope roofing applications with specific focus on this closed-cell, rigid foam board insulation.

I’ll also go over the terminology and application basics of how and when it is used, including how to:

  • Define R-value in technical terms
  • Describe the two types of insulation based on R-value
  • Describe some of the features of polyisocyanurate as an insulating material
  • Explain what the industry is doing about ozone depleting substances
  • Describe some of the uses of polyiso insulation
  • Describe some of the physical properties of polyiso insulation
  • Describe tapered insulation and explain its function

CertainTeed’s Building Knowledge Academy of Continuing Education is the industry’s most extensive and engaging collection of CEU course content. Our courses provide AIA credits and help architects specify smarter. Register today.

CertainTeed Set To Inspire at the 2015 AIA National Convention

CertainTeed is in Atlanta for the 2015 AIA National Convention with a team of experts guaranteed to provide insights and inspiration. From May 14 – 16 at the Georgia World Congress Center, our experts will be on hand to provide building knowledge expertise.

This year is a bit different for CertainTeed.  In our booth (#4037), attendees will be able to earn valuable learning units by chatting up our experts.  Expo Chat enables architects to qualify for 0.25 LUs following brief, 15-minute conversations with designated subject matter experts on key topics including indoor air quality and acoustics.

Learning Lounge AIAThis complements our robust CEU courses in our Building Knowledge Learning Lounge (#4027LL) where attendees will earn credits for our subject areas:

Net Zero Energy Home – Design Strategies and System Optimization;

Integrated Window & Lighting Systems Help Meet Challenging Building Codes;

Transparency Docs: How LCAs, EPDs & HPDs support product selection;

Balancing Act: Sustainable office design from multiple viewpoints;

Sustainable Landscape and Residential Fence Systems;

Optimizing Classroom Acoustics to Overcome HVAC Noise;

Electrochromic Glazing – Dynamic Control of Solar Energy

We are continuing our Down with Decibels campaign and will have a “Roving Report” talking to architects and distributors and asking for their perspectives on acoustics in the office environment.

But our booth itself is a reason to stop by if you are at the show to take a sneak peak at the making of a sustainable headquarters. In conjunction with our parent company Saint-Gobain’s 350th Anniversary, we are transforming more than 320,000 square feet of office space in Malvern, Pa., into a new LEED-Gold certified headquarters that will also serve as a learning lab utilizing CertainTeed and Saint-Gobain products. Lucas Hamilton, manager of building science applications for CertainTeed, will be on hand to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the dramatic transformation underway.

So join us in our booth (4037) or, if you are not attending AIA, follow @CertainTeed on Twitter for real-time updates from the show.

 

CISCA Honors Inspired Acoustic Design at Construction Excellence Awards

This week the Ceilings and Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA) recognized construction projects from around the world at its prestigious 2014 Construction Excellence Awards gala in Long Beach, California. I’m proud to say that installations involving our custom ceilings products were among those honored. In fact, this year we won silver and bronze in the acoustical solutions category and silver and bronze in the international category.

Our award-winning projects feature ceiling and wall materials crafted by Decoustics, CertainTeed Ceilings’ custom acoustic product division. These projects brilliantly bridge form with function to create inspired acoustic design. Don’t just take my word for it though, see for yourself. I’m posting a few shots of these award-winning projects because, after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

 

Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus

Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus

The dynamic design of the Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus, Law School and Residence Hall in New York City includes unique curved and shaped Nuvola fiberglass ceiling panels, Quadrillo wood veneered acoustic ceiling and wall panels, and Claro fiberglass panels installed into a Ceilencio suspension system.

 

 

Statoil

Statoil headquarters

 

The spectacular dome ceiling created for Statoil’s headquarters in Stavenger, Norway, features custom curved two-inch fabric wrapped panels and a custom curved aluminum suspension system that masterfully mimic the contour of the vast dome and greatly improve the acoustics within the space.

 

 

 

Bridgepoint

Bridgepoint Health Care

The renovation of Bridgepoint Health Care in Toronto, Ontario, includes customized mini-perforated acoustical natural wood veneer ceiling panels installed in a Ceilencio suspension grid with custom butterfly clips. The wood ceiling panels span the interior and exterior of the building to create the illusion of open spaces while maintaining the heritage of the iconic 150 year-old building, which was originally built as a jail.

 

 

MinnesotaOrchestra

Minnesota Orchestra Hall

 

The beautiful and expansive renovation of the event space within the Minnesota Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota, features custom Solo acoustical wood ceilings and walls that span over 10,500 square feet. The redesign is just spectacular.

 

 

 

We are thrilled to have these CertainTeed Ceilings installations recognized by CISCA this year. Congratulations to all my colleagues and peers who worked so hard on these and other award-winning projects!

Free CEU Course Takes A Systematic View of the Exterior Wall

How can an exterior wall system help stymie chronic heat and moisture-related problems?

Find out by joining me for the upcoming CEU course A Systematic View of the Exterior Wall. This free and interactive session will be offered on Thursday, April 30, from 1 – 2 p.m. ET.

During the hour-long session, you will learn how to develop a plan that enables exterior wall systems Dutchlap_Res Iso_PD_MDWand materials to work together for the overall health of a house. Learn how proper design and installation of framing, sheathing, insulation, airflow retarders, vapor retarders and siding can minimize, if not eliminate, heat and moisture-related problems and be able to ask me questions

At the conclusion you will know:

  • What an exterior wall system is and why it’s important for the house and its occupants
  • The role airflow retarders and vapor diffusion retarders play in controlling the flow of moisture through the exterior wall system
  • How four kinds of insulation can best perform in an exterior wall system
  • How four types of framing materials and two forms of sheathing materials can effect the exterior wall system
  • How window performance is measured and enhanced
  • The importance of caulking, flashing and gaskets to the exterior wall system
  • Advantages and disadvantages of seven kinds of sheathing materials as each relates to the exterior wall system

CertainTeed’s Building Knowledge Academy of Continuing Education, is the industry’s most extensive and engaging collection of CEU course content. Our courses provide AIA credits and help architects specify smarter. Register today.

 

 

Architecture Week is the Perfect Opportunity to Take Notice of the Sounds Around Us

This month, many local chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) from Washington, D.C., to Spokane, Washington, will be observing Architecture Week by reflecting on the buildings around us and the great minds behind them. Drawing inspiration from art, nature and history, architects are responsible for shaping the environment in which we work, learn and play every day. As such, those designs have a profound impact on the way we live.

Architects are charged with balancing beauty with practicality, form with function. Often overlooked in the pursuit of breathtaking aesthetics is the potential impact acoustics can have on a space. Out of sight, out of mind—until you discover your son or daughter isn’t able to understand their teacher due to a noisy classroom, or a loved one recovering from surgery can’t get any sleep amidst the hustle and bustle of a hospital corridor.

As the manufacturer of multiple products designed to contain and/or absorb unwanted sound, we’ve come to know a thing or two about how acoustics impact the wellbeing and productivity of a building’s occupants. In fact, we’ve developed a campaign aimed at raising awareness of these very issues among the architects and designers whose efforts will shape our built environment for years to come. That effort—Down With Decibels—and its associated website, www.nonoisenow.com, offers powerful stories and research-derived information on how noise adversely affects those who spend their days in buildings that are acoustically inefficient.

So this month, when the architectural community ponders its impact on the world, I would encourage anyone responsible for designing the interiors of our schools, office buildings, and hospitals to consider how noise affects all of us, every day. Then stop by our site and sign a pledge to “restore the silence.” We’ll all be grateful to you for it.

Range Hoods with Fire Suppression Systems vs Residential Sprinklers

mElFRFhKH0pOoTU8RZfawHgThe 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) recommended the inclusion of residential sprinklers in all new home construction as added protection from fires.

However, according to a recent FEMA report, about 50 percent of the American home fires between 2002 and 2013 were cooking fires and contained to a specific area of the home.

Rather than requiring the installation of whole house sprinkler systems why don’t we evaluate the impact of range hoods with automatic fire suppression such as those used in commercial kitchens?  This technology is already available for residential kitchens and would not require as drastic a change to the building assembly.

To borrow a quote from Al Franken’s alter ego Stuart Smalley “it’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world”.

 

Tide Turns for Home Devastated by Hurricane Sandy

IMG_4853The Sunset Green Home, once a charming 1940s cottage resting five feet above sea level, was damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and decimated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In 2015, however, the tide will turn as it will be rebuilt as a sustainable, energy-efficient home registered through the LEED® for Homes Green Building Program. The certification goal is actually LEED Platinum.

Kim Erle, the homeowner, also happens to be a LEED AP. She and her team of architects and designers recently identified CertainTeed as a company with a range of industry-leading products that would work well in her sustainably built home. We are pleased that AirRenew® Essential Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) gypsum board, FortiCel™ Mold Prevention System, SMARTBATT™ with MoistureSense™ Technology batt insulation, GlasRoc® Diamondback® Tile Backer, and CertaSpray® open and closed cell foam were all specified for this project.

IMG_4722These products are bringing Kim and her family peace of mind. She says mold was visibly rampant in the walls and floorboards when the remains of her cottage-style home were demolished. She’s convinced this mold was there before Hurricane Sandy took out the house. Many of the products she has chosen, including ours, are there to help mitigate her mold concerns. The specified FortiCel, for instance, is a protective coating that is sprayed into the wall cavity to help prevent mold growth on structural framing surfaces. SMARTBATT also helps reduce the potential for mold and mildew growth as it comes with a smart vapor retarder that changes its permeability with the ambient humidity condition. This means the wall can essentially breathe when SMARTBATT senses moisture that needs to be released from within the wall. To further improve indoor air quality, the AirRenew wallboard will actually clean the air in Kim’s house by capturing VOCs and converting them into safe, inert compounds that safely remain within the board for up to 75 years.

Her home will be under construction through June, at which time the family hopes to move in for the summer. Check out her blog for updates on the project. It’s a great study on residential LEED design and construction.