Although noise pollution has been described as the next ‘green’ barrier to overcome, flooring solutions provider KBAC Flooring says noise pollution is often overlooked in corporate environmental policies.
For instance, KBAC Flooring sales director Brandon Park points out that selecting the correct type of flooring plays an important role in reducing noise pollution in the workplace.
“Property developers, designers and architects have a crucial role to play in providing inspirational working environments for employees. High on the list of aspects to consider is the impact of noise on workers. Noise can cause sleeping disorders, stress, headaches, memory loss, aggression and learning difficulties.”
Park notes that floor coverings present extremely important sound-absorption opportunities because carpeting absorbs many times the airborne sound that other flooring materials can deal with. Typically, the thicker and higher quality the carpet, the better it will absorb sound – particularly high-frequency sounds.
He mentions that KBAC supplies a range of flooring for the commercial and residential markets, which includes boardroom carpets, carpet tiles, vinyl tiles, bamboo, laminated or engineered wood, hemp, coir, sisal and natural fibres, among others.
Moreover, Park mentions that some of the flooring is more suitable for commercial installation because of its ability to withstand daily heavy traffic and reduce noise, while other flooring solutions are more suitable for home installation.
Park asserts that the size and shape of a room also plays an important role when deciding on the type of flooring. He adds that chairs being moved or footsteps on a floor are examples of negative-impact sound. Owing to this, the acoustic requirements of an interior will always vary from project to project and building to building.
“A good acoustic environment is always the result of many factors, including choice of ceiling and acoustic panels. However . . . to effectively control noise from footsteps and other impacts, nothing is more effective than carpet,” he points out.
He highlights that wool carpets, for example, have been extensively used by designers to create more acoustic-friendly environments. Wool flooring dampens noise and reduces sound transmissions between floors and rooms.
“Sound is transmitted by the vibration of air molecules. The fuzzy porous structure of wool carpets and soft furnishing means that sound waves can penetrate into the pile rather than being reflected back into a room.”
He further points out that wool carpets are extremely effective sound absorbers because the individual fibres, tufts and underlay have different resonant frequencies at which they absorb sound.
Moreover, Park explains that the sustainability of a particular type of flooring depends on a variety of factors, from the manufacturing process and the producers’ carbon footprint to the installation stage, when the health hazards of various types of adhesives have to be considered.
Park concludes that some adhesives emit fumes hazardous to both the installers and subsequent office occupiers and are therefore not acceptable in green building.