Time to make a noise about acoustics

Mark Barsby, Head of Technical at The VEKA UK Group, explains more about noise reduction ratings and how The VEKA UK Group is ahead of the curve once again.

Heathrow’s potential third runway and ‘Boris Island’ are stories that have been all over the news recently. While additional airport capacity may well be required in future to support the UK Economy, the current political battleground is being fought on the impact that noise pollution from an airport expansion would have on those affected and their long-term health.

Indeed, I read a recent article where the Mayor of London suggested that a third runway would mean there are more than a million people in the city who would be affected by noise pollution of more than 55dB.

I am not attempting to write an article in support of either (or other) airport expansion schemes. Regardless of when and where airport expansion may take place, I think it is safe to assume that eventually it will happen and – as we live on a largely over-populated, relatively small Island – regardless of where it happens, many thousands of people are likely to be affected by noise pollution as a result.

As an industry, we have become relatively comfortable with selling the performance benefits of our products against the onslaught of inclement weather (weather performance), unwanted intruders (security) and also rising energy bills (thermal efficiency and WERS) but what if you were asked to provide documentary evidence about noise and acoustic performance?

In the past, our industry may have been able to easily provide acoustic information about our Double Glazed Unit, but what about a whole frame performance? ( Information we have been providing on U-Values and WERS now quite comfortably for some years).

As a guide, a typical WER ‘A’ rated double glazed window may have a weighted sound reduction capacity of around 40-45dB, still quite some way short of what may be expected for underneath a third Heathrow runway.

In 2012, The VEKA UK Group launched Halo’s TwinSash as among the most thermally-efficient products available on the market anywhere.

For those not aware of this groundbreaking product, the concept of secondary glazing has been modernised and updated and – along with the incorporation of triple glazing – a concept has been realised where a whole window U-Value as low as 0.42W/m2k can be achieved with Krypton Gas and 0.48W/m2k with Argon.

However, we also anticipated the likely benefits that TwinSash could bring to the field of noise reduction and, now coupled with the BM TRADA Q-Mark Noise Reduction Rating Scheme, there is a way of clearly demonstrating the acoustic performance of a glazed product to homeowners and specifiers.

To give an idea of where a typical WER ‘A’ Rated double glazed window may sit in acoustic performance, a window of this type would be likely to reduce sound by between 26-35dB, which would be rated ‘E’ or ‘F’ on the BM TRADA Rating.

To meet the criteria of 55dB described as the noise pollution expected for a third Heathrow runway, a window with a Noise Reduction Rating of ‘A’ would be required. Anything deemed above 50db is classed as ‘A’ rated under the scheme.

After extensive testing earlier this year, I am very pleased and proud to announce that Halo TwinSash is the first window to achieve an ‘A’ under The BM TRADA Q-Mark Window Noise Reduction Rating Scheme.

Indeed TwinSash is not only the first window to achieve an ‘A’ Rating, it has actually achieved nine different ‘A’ Ratings between 52-56dB using a combination of different double and triple glazed IGUs. Indeed 52db is possible with 2x28mm DGU’s using 4mm glass.

In addition to this, Halo TwinSash has been tested to BS 6375 and PAS 24. This ensures that no matter what location or building type in the UK – TwinSash can deliver high end performance; whatever the specified requirements, be it weather protection, security, heat loss, noise reduction or all four!