Keeping the noise down

Posted on 30/01/2015

With the density of new-build developments increasing, the ability for windows and doors to reduce the amount of external noise passing into a building is becoming ever more important. Where a building is located in a built-up or densely populated area, or close to a busy road, the choice of appropriate acoustic windows and doors can improve both the quality of life for those occupying the property and the building’s re-sale value. 

With this in mind, you would think that acoustic or noise reduction performance would be viewed as a fundamental characteristic of a modern window or door, yet until recently it has rarely been considered. 

This is changing, however, as specifiers and purchasers (including consumers) have started to realise that the noise reduction performance of different door and window systems can vary substantially.

Growing demand
A number of large window and door manufacturers are now starting to recognise that the market is increasingly interested in noise reduction and have therefore begun to promote the benefits of the noise reducing capabilities of their products. 

In anticipation of the likely growth in demand for noise-reducing windows and doors, BM TRADA developed an acoustics testing laboratory some 3 years ago and since then has seen a steady increase in manufacturers wishing to test their products for noise reduction performance. During 2014, the number of manufacturers booking tests increased dramatically.

All the indications are that it is only a matter of time before purchasers start to make the noise reduction performance of windows and doors a key requirement when purchasing.  So what should be considered by the manufacturer in order to prove the acoustic or noise reduction performance of their window or door?

Where noise reduction is specified as a performance requirement of the product, manufacturers will often concentrate on the glass. Indeed, some manufacturers will simply provide the acoustic values for the glass. But whilst the glass is important, it is vital that all of the window’s components are taken into account – e.g. the frame, seals and even the hardware.

Experience has shown that when comparing different window systems which incorporate the same glass specification, the performance characteristics for the whole window can vary dramatically. To give a true indication of performance, the manufacturer should subject the entire product to an acoustic test under controlled laboratory conditions in order to determine the weighted sound reduction value for the product (Rw).

Test procedures
Testing involves installing a window or doorset into a partition within the acoustic laboratory. Noise is generated in the source room and recorded on the other side of the partition in the receiving room. BS EN ISO 10140-2: 2010 requires the window or door to be tested at various frequencies, in order to determine the average noise reduction, taking into account various frequencies that the product is likely to be subjected to. This results in a weighted sound reduction for the product (Rw).

By testing specimens of the same size, it is possible to test a number of products in one session at BM TRADA’s facility. Specimens can also be re-glazed enabling manufacturers to achieve results across several variations of their product relatively easily and cheaply. Because of this, most manufacturers test the lowest and the highest performing products in their range, as well as all the variations in between, meaning that they are able to demonstrate the performance of each of their products to their customers. Those using the BM TRADA noise reduction rating label (see below), are able to provide different acoustic bandings to potential purchasers, giving them the ability to “upsell” to a higher performance product.

Having achieved the desired test result, it has up until recently, been difficult to clearly demonstrate the acoustic performance of the product to the market. However, BM TRADA recently launched Q-Mark Acoustic Window and Door schemes that are designed to clearly demonstrate the noise reduction performance of a window or door, with a clear A-G rating label making comparisons between different products a simple process.
The BM TRADA Noise Reduction Rating Label clearly outlines the acoustic performance of the door or window system. The label is available to manufacturers who are certified under the Q-Mark Acoustic Window or Door Scheme and can only be applied to products covered under the scope of certification.

Like other Q-Mark third party certification schemes, the Acoustic Window and Door Schemes require manufacturers to undertake initial type testing as well as meeting stringent factory production control requirements, to ensure that the product is consistently manufactured to the same specification as that originally tested, with the correct components, absence of air gaps, and with the seals compressed as per the tested sample.  BM TRADA undertakes regular factory inspections and audit tests before a manufacturer can be certified.

Ironically, despite the noise reducing properties of double glazing being adopted as an early selling point, this additional and increasingly important benefit has more recently been overlooked when manufacturing and selling a window or door.  However, the growth in demand for acoustically efficient windows and doors and the ability to simply demonstrate the product’s performance through displaying BM TRADA’s noise reduction rating label looks set to change all that.

For further information on the Q-Mark Acoustic Window and Door Manufacturer Scheme, contact Simon Beer on 01494 569821 or email:
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With demand for noise reducing windows and doors increasing, BM TRADA Business Development Manager Simon Beer explains how manufacturers can promote the acoustic capabilities of their products.