How Acoustic Comfort Can Change Our Indoor Experiences
Leading designers the world over face a new set of challenges designing commercial spaces in today’s environment. One challenge that is front and center is the well-being concerns for the “indoor” generation. Recent studies are showing that psychological stress is a major factor in well-being. A little known factor that disrupts our minds and productivity indoors is acoustics.
As modern humans, we spend a vast majority of our time indoors, 90 percent on average. For urban residents, that time is spent working in offices or at home. One of the biggest problems faced by urban residents: becoming increasingly disconnected. From nature, other people, and even everyday tasks. While screens play a large part in this disconnection, there is another, invisible interloper in our focus abilities: Noise Pollution.
Noise pollution is a major factor in our ability to focus, feel at ease and our overall well being in a space. Designing with acoustic comfort in mind is a key priority for any interior designer.
We take a look at how this is quantified and the benefits of implementing acoustic comfort solutions for indoor life.
How Do Poor Acoustics Affect Us?
Sound and Well-Being
When we think of health and wellness, we think about movement, exercise, supplements, and the food we put into our bodies. In actuality, wellness consists of so much more. Our environment has an effect on our health, including the sights and sounds we surround ourselves with.
One of the many considerations in WELL-designed buildings is noise reduction to increase wellness and productivity — this is especially important in shared workspaces. Sounds have a major impact on productivity, mental health, stress levels, and overall well-being.
Strike the right balance between noisy and silent to improve well-being.
As humans, one of our safety and preservation functions is to be listening to our surrounding environment. We’re tuned in and listening for emergency sounds, our name, and words we understand. This has to do with our physical safety as well as social preservation.
Because of these built-in safety mechanisms, we’re not truly capable of tuning out conversations and noise around us. That’s why it’s critical for productivity spaces to have the right balance of sound between noise and silence. Silence can be just as distracting to us as noise.
In fact, multiple studies have found that noise is the number one distraction for office workers. One such study found that workers are interrupted every 11 minutes, on average. This level of disruption cost results in a loss of 2.5 hours of productivity per worker, per day.
A 2016 study examined the overlap between noise and mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. What they found was that those with mental health diagnoses showed a higher sensitivity, or annoyance, to noise. This association can’t show causation, but it does show the correlation between noise and mental health.
For those dealing with depression and anxiety, noise causes chronic, severe annoyance. It’s easy to imagine and extrapolate that those people will have a more difficult time being productive and completing tasks in a noisy environment.
In the workplace, the most common noise triggers are co-worker conversations, phone calls, ringing phones, and people walking around. A 2019 study from Interface found that these disruptive sounds and a generally noisy office space cause increased levels of stress in employees.
Increased stress levels and chronically elevated cortisol levels can lead to a host of health problems, including coronary illness, stroke, and high blood pressure. And, it doesn’t take much noise. The average office noise clocks in between 50 and 70 decibels. One study found that exposure to 55 decibel level noise increased medical visits and incidences of high blood pressure.
A Natural Born Solution: MOSS.
With an NRC rating of up to .99, Moss is nature’s acoustic solution and visual statement piece. Moss Walls are created from natural moss that’s sustainably harvested and crafted into custom installations or easy-to-install tiles. The moss tiles can be installed anywhere, to any design specification, and meet any building code. Additionally, they need zero care. Moss walls/tiles will stay healthy and green for up to or more than ten years. No water or sunlight needed.
In addition to being nice to look at, moss has another health-improving quality: sound absorption.
Our moss tiles have a .55 NRC rating and can reduce reverberation and absorb sound to improve productivity and reduce stress. NRC or noise reduction coefficient indicates the level of sound absorption provided by a product, with a maximum value of 1. With an NRC rating of .55, our moss tiles absorb a lot of sound, without deadening the sound. Remember: silence can be just as disruptive as noise.
Moss and Biophilic Design
Moss Walls have the ability to create more acoustic comfort in any indoor space. Biophilic design is the concept of interior and exterior design to incorporate more natural elements to satisfy our innate desire to connect with nature.
Nature is known to positively affect humans, from lowering stress levels to reducing healing time from illness or surgery. By adding moss walls to your interior design, you can not only lower noise levels, but can increase happiness and connection to nature.
If you’re looking for a noise-reduction solution to improve productivity, reduce stress, and increase overall well-being, a Moss Wall may be just the thing you’re looking for. Moss tiles can be configured to meet any design needs you have and are easy to care for.
Moss is a one-two punch in the interior design industry, and we would love to hear from any designers in the comments below if you have experience adding moss to client spaces!
Learn More About Moss Walls HERE