Tone It Down, I’m Trying to Eat Over Here!

restaurant2As someone who has spent 30 years preaching to the architectural community about the negative effects of poor acoustic design, I was pleased to see a recent feature article in a major U.S. newspaper take up the issue of how restaurant owners and designers are/are not addressing noise in their establishments. After all, noisy restaurants are a prime way to illustrate to the general public the importance of well-crafted acoustic design. I am a long-time believer that restaurant noise is a huge reason why many one-time patrons never return—even if the food is sublime.

For years, Craig Laban, a local restaurant critic here in Philly, has included decibel readings in his reviews. I often reference these evaluations in conversations with architects and designers as evidence that “noise matters” and that I use Mr. Laban’s acoustic evaluations as a deciding factor for where I will spend my hard-earned restaurant dollars.

I don’t think I’m alone in having had otherwise wonderful meals compromised by overly loud dining rooms. As detailed in a new white paper from the Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA), a 2011 Zagat survey revealed that noise was second only to poor service as diners’ most common complaint. Furthermore, in a Consumer Reports survey of 47,565 readers, reflecting 110,517 experiences at 102 different table-service chain restaurants, one out of four complained about the noise level at least once.

Yet some restaurateurs maintain that a lively space (what some might call noise) is a desirable ambiance that will attract diners. So you’re seeing a trend toward live music, densely packed dining rooms, and spartan designs that are open to the structure or to the kitchen with many hard, reflective surfaces. Curtains, tablecloths and sound absorbing ceilings—all of which traditionally helped control the decibel level in restaurants—are no longer as desirable as they once were. This is bad news for those of us who want to be able to carry on a conversation while we eat.

The good news is that there are options for restaurant owners and designers who want to control noise without compromising the modern design aesthetic. Though a traditional ceiling is usually the best way to add sound absorption, materials like fiberglass wall panels, acoustical trim and softer flooring options can help lower decibel levels where an acoustical ceiling isn’t possible or desirable. And in some cases, owners have found success painting or printing ceiling panels to combine style with superior acoustics.

At CertainTeed Ceilings, we’ve started a movement—Down With Decibels—to drive home the message that the sounds around us play a significant role in our wellbeing. Check out www.nonoisenow.com for real stories from architects, designers and building occupants detailing how acoustical design has impacted their lives. And while you’re there, we’d love to hear whether noise has ever negatively affected your dining experience.

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.

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!

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.

Free Continuing Education Webinar: Acoustical Ceilings for the Eye, the Ear and the Mind

CTC_TCH_case study_409x240Unwanted noise in interior spaces can profoundly impact the way people work, learn and heal in the built environment. Well-designed interior spaces are key to combating this serious problem. Choosing the right ceiling panel material for a project makes a huge difference in managing the acoustical response of a room.

Studies also show that natural light that is more evenly distributed in a room can increase productivity. Ceilings manufactured with light reflectance properties can have a positive impact on the comfort of a room and decrease electrical costs.

To learn more, join our Building Knowledge Academy of Continuing Education (ACE) this Tuesday, December 16, from 1 – 2 p.m. ET, for a free educational webinar on acoustical ceilings. The course provides an overview of the principles of sound attenuation and light reflectance and can count toward CEU credits.

Robert Marshall, Manager for Marketing Technical Services for CertainTeed Ceilings, who has extensive experience with acoustical ceilings as a private contractor and now in the manufacturing sector, will lead the webinar. During this engaging discussion, you will learn:

  • The main properties of acoustical ceilings, their function and performance, and how they are tied to positive outcomes in healthcare facilities, schools and places of business.
  • How to calculate the Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) when determining the acoustical performance of a product and compare acoustical materials as they relate to sound absorption and frequency.
  • The Luminous Reflectance Factor of acoustical materials as it relates to sustainable work environments.

Click here to register.

The CertainTeed Building Knowledge ACE program offers the industry’s most extensive and engaging collection of CEU courses available. Its breadth of educational courses provides architects, specifiers and others in the building industry with knowledge and skills needed to specify products smarter.

We hope you will join us for this informative session.

Acoustic Ceilings: Classroom Acoustics Webinar and Panel Discussion

ASSAABLOYWhat impact can you as the designer bring to a classroom setting given that you are not going to be teaching? One of the things you potentially bring is the ability to impact the environmental acoustical value of the space.

The 21st C classroom is a more diverse place than ever before. With the mainstreaming of children with learning disabilities, physical challenges and language barrier issues, it is more important than ever to have an acoustically efficient environment. To create a design which does not addresses the lowest common denominator just seems wrong.

On Wednesday, November 12 from 12:00 – 1:30 pm ET CertainTeed will conduct a Classroom Acoustics Webinar followed by a panel discussion that will explore, in depth, the challenges of educational space design. Attendees will learn:

  • Why Acoustics Matter
  • Fundamentals of Sound and Acoustics
  • Understanding the Primary Acoustic Problems in Schools
  • Background Noise
  • Reverberation
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio
  • Classroom Acoustics and LEED
  • Challengers and Solutions through Academic Research

Robert Marshall, Manager for Marketing Technical Services for CertainTeed Ceilings, has spent a career working with acoustical ceilings as a private contractor and now in the manufacturing sector. He will share his vast knowledge on this subject and will also participate in a panel discussion lead by Mark Fowler, Editorial Director, Walls & Ceilings. Also on the panel will be:

  • Christopher Pollock, PE, CTS, LEED AL BD+C – Partner, DC Regional Director, Cerami & Associates
  • Edward Dugger, AIA, ASA, NCAS, INCE – Senior Acoustical Consultant, Edward Dugger & Associates
  • Alana F. Dunoff – Associate Adjunct Professor of Facilities, Tyler School of ArchitectureTemple University
  • Dawn R. Schuette, FAIA, LEED AP – Partner, Threshold Acoustics

 You can sign-up for this webinar/panel discussion right here. We look forward to having you join in this great discussion.

 

 

Greenbuild Attendees to Get an Inside Look at Designing and Constructing a Productive, Healthy Workplace

HQ_LabImagine. You’re the world’s largest building product’s manufacturer. You’ve been in your existing offices for more than a quarter of a century. You’ve identified new real estate and are charged with retrofitting more than 320,000 square feet of office space to create a living lab, model and showcase of your extensive portfolio of industry-leading, sustainable building products.

Want to get an inside look behind the reinvention of the world’s largest building products company’s North American headquarters? Then stop by the Saint Gobain (Powered by CertainTeed and SAGE) Education Lab (Booth #1523) for “Balancing Act: Sustainable office design from multiple viewpoints,” this morning at 10:30 a.m.

The exterior renovations and lobby of the new headquarters are being designed by Bernardon Haber Holloway with the interiors being designed by Jacobs. By leveraging the full range of Saint-Gobain’s portfolio of sustainable products and technologies, the headquarters is expected to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold Certification. The goal is to create a workplace that is energy-efficient, has superior air-quality and moisture management, and makes a material difference in the comfort and health of employees.

Ultimately, Saint-Gobain selected a suburban campus along the Philadelphia corridor that could provide integrated, mixed-use space with significant room for expansion. At the same time, the new Malvern campus remains accessible to the company’s expert employee base, many of whom reside in Chester and Montgomery Counties.

The panel includes:

Lucas Hamilton, manager, building science applications for CertainTeed

Shawn Puccio, senior vice president of finance at Saint Gobain North America

Neil Liebman, principal at Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects PC

Maureen Byrne, manager of projects at Jacobs

Tad Radzinski, consultant, Sustainable Solutions Corporation

New Webinar Hones in on Superior Classroom Acoustics, Evidence-based Design

7403731050_9a1ee480deWhen classrooms are too noisy, learning is significantly impacted. There’s a compelling body of research that supports this notion. I’ve also had the opportunity to witness it first hand through our work at Slatington Elementary.

The good news is that there are readily accessible, achievable solutions that support high-performance classroom acoustics and meet applicable code requirements. In a new webinar, “Creating Superior Acoustic Environments in Schools with Evidence-Based Design”, I will outline specific recommendations on remediation techniques along with specific wall design and installation solutions.

The webinar, scheduled for Tuesday, September 24 from Noon – 1 p.m. EST, will also include the following learning objectives:

  • Identify the benefits of evidence-based acoustical design and distinguish key acoustic performance criteria necessary to create a superior acoustic environment
  • Understand the major factors affecting acoustics and speech intelligibility in classroom spaces
  • Examine the results of an elementary school classroom acoustics case study
  • Identify relevant code requirements and detail how to specify construction materials and methods for sound control

To join this free webinar, which is eligible for AIA continuing education credits, click here to register.

 

Ready for Action: AIA 2014

aia_chicagoOn the eve of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) annual conference, we’re rearing to go and carefully compiling our “must see” list for day one of the show. We have a full schedule of activities at the CertainTeed booth, so be sure to stop by and say hello. If you aren’t in the Windy City for the big event, we’ll do our best to share interesting insights from the exhibit hall. Drop us a line and we’ll report back to you. In the mean time, here’s what’s on our radar.

  1. Architect magazine is hosting Chicago Tribune architectural critic, Blair Kamin for a live interview session on Thursday at 11 a.m. A Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Kamin offers a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities of urban development, public spaces and historic preservation.
  1. Bust a move at the YKK booth. The company will debut its “Do the Architect” video, offering a much-needed respite from a long day of strenuous, CEU courses.
  1. Sign the “Down with Decibels” petition to tackle unwanted noise in interior spaces. The petition was designed to rally attendees around the idea that acoustics profoundly impact the way people work, learn and heal in the built environment.
  1. Experience a whole new dimension of upcycling with Rail Yard Studios. The company transforms old railroad ties into coffee tables, bed frames and bookshelves that are design savvy and sustainable.
  1. Get schooled on classroom acoustics. ASSA ABLOY and CertainTeed will host a panel discussion at Learning Lounge #4067 at 1:20 p.m. From concept to installation to real-world testing, this team of experts has a compelling story to share about their work at a Pennsylvania elementary school.
  1. Ready to put your pedometer to the test? Take a walk to one of the many Chicago-area buildings designed by Perkins + Will. Check out their online map to get the scoop on all of the sites to see.

Looking ahead, there’s still two more days of exploration at AIA. What should we see and do next?

 

 

 

The Risks of Poor Acoustics in Healthcare Settings

CTC_Gyptone_Big_Curve_yellow_818x474Longer hospital stays, higher readmission rates, unnecessary medical errors, high stress among staff — these are just a few of the consequences of unwanted noise in healthcare settings. It is estimated that ambient noise levels in healthcare facilities have dramatically increased since 1972. In a UK survey conducted by the National Health Service, 40 percent of hospital patients cited noise was a major annoyance during their stay—outranking other factors such as cleanliness, quality of food, privacy and amount of staff. Additionally, new research indicates that the risk of a heart attack increases when measured noise levels exceed 65 decibels.

The good news? There are solutions. Join me on Wednesday, May 21 at 2 p.m. EST for a one-hour webinar dedicated to improving acoustics in healthcare settings. You can register for free here and earn AIA and USGBC credit.

Specifically, the Ceilings in the Healthcare Segment course will cover:

  • How evidence-based design is driving healthcare facility construction
  • Strategies for optimizing indoor environments for the best patient outcomes
  • The role of sound attenuation in protecting patient privacy
  • LEED® for Healthcare as it relates to ceilings and acoustics
  • Facility Guidelines Institute guidelines for ceilings in healthcare environments

The simple truth is that there is no excuse for poor acoustics in healthcare settings. Solutions for better acoustical control not only exist but are in reach — however, we need to ban together to truly make a difference for patients and hospital staff alike. To that end, we recently launched the “Down with Decibels” campaign and encourage you to join the movement.