The 3,600+ practices that use NBS to make 13.6M specification decisions per month can now filter for Quiet Mark certified products and materials, using the left hand navigation menu. This includes sound emitting products such as Dyson hand dryers and Grant Heat Pumps, or acoustic improving building materials including WoodUpp’s Akupanel Decorative Wood Acoustic Panels and ROCKWOOL’s Sound Insulation Slab.
For architects, engineers, designers and contractors NBS provides a cloud-based specification system that enables them to work smarter and reduce their risk. For building product manufacturers, NBS helps grow their business by exposing their products across the construction project timeline.
NBS is also an educational platform that shares the latest thought leadership, trends and products with the construction and design industries in general. It also delivers the The RIBA CPD Providers Network.
For our latest episode, Quiet Mark’s CMO & Podcast Host, Simon Gosling, recorded a conversation with 3 industry expert guests, each representing a different part of that process. Together they explore the role of specification, the ways that they use the NBS platform, and what the new Quiet Mark x NBS partnership means for them, and the industry as a whole.
Stephen Hamil is Innovation Director at NBS - Stephen first started working on NBS products in 1999 and has played a big part in the development of platforms such as NBS Chorus and NBS Source.
Richard Grove is Director | Europe at Inhabit - After 8 1/2 years leading the acoustics team out of BDP's London Studio, Richard recently started an exciting new role as Director | Europe at Inhabit, part of Egis Group.
Gregg Wright is Director at WoodUpp, manufacturer of Quiet Mark certified Akupanel Decorative Wood Acoustic Panels, a product also listed on NBS.
This new partnership between Quiet Mark and NBS will allow acousticians and manufacturers to optimise from early on, filtering for quiet specific products. Richard Grove spoke on how involving all parties in prioritising acoustics from an early stage will reduce room for error.
“As an acoustic engineer we provide our specification report to an architect who inputs it into the specification. This can potentially leave room for interpretation and error”, explains Richard. “The new partnership between NBS and Quiet Mark is a great move for the acoustics industry as a whole but also for ensuring that the buildings we design get built in the exact same way we intended. Furthermore, having access to all these Quiet Mark certified NBS products will improve product knowledge among acousticians and encourage us to work alongside manufacturers to establish what can be done. It will provide knowledge of the industry among acousticians, first and foremost.”
Image: Part of Egis Group, Inhabit is a design-led, multi-disciplinary team of experienced architects, designers, engineers and contractors who are passionate about making a positive contribution to our built environment. View Inhabit Projects
WoodUpp, whose products are Quiet mark certified, was a partner of NBS before the Quiet Mark X NBS partnership announcement. Their Director, Gregg Wright spoke on how the introduction of a third party certification will make the most difference from a manufacturer perspective.
“There are so many products out there so being able to see the pros and cons of a product from a third party perspective on the NBS platform will enlighten the industry and tailor to the specific values of a project. Quiet Mark, as a third party, is able to validate how well our products work from an independent and unbiased standpoint. It’s great to have a platform like NBS to search for specific acoustic and sustainable products - there are so many ways you can search to meet your criteria.”
Image: WoodUpp Akupanel Decorative Wood Acoustic Panels are both Quiet Mark certified and available through NBS
Stephen validated this need for the industry to have third party certification and stated that when NBS started their focus groups between architects and manufacturers, “a third party certification of product performance emerged as one of the top three priorities for all parties involved. Now, in our generic spec, we have a clause item for third party certification.”
To conclude on this point, Richard enlightened us on the importance of product awareness. “Product awareness is where the Quiet Mark and NBS partnership will deliver specific values. We aren’t working in the dark when trying to provide specifications simply based on values but instead we know that the specification can be achieved. By having that knowledge and access to the certification early on, later conflicts in terms of requirements will be mitigated. From an acoustician’s perspective, engaging with that cost element is important in balancing sustainability credentials in a way that works with a client’s budget. Access to information will allow us to contribute more into the specification process.”
As we have spoken about previously on our podcast, the pandemic has also had a propelling effect on generating widespread awareness on the need for acoustic awareness in the construction industry. Specifically, as Stephen informed us, when it came to education via industry CPDs. “The NBS partnership with RIBA allows product professionals to discuss knowledge about a particular subject or project and the pandemic was fascinating in how the delivery of that changed. People couldn’t drive to London and found that online team working pivoted and worked more efficiently. For example, 2000 people attended our webinar compared to when I used to drive to London-based seminars attended by 25 people in one room. We could capture email addresses easier and host more knowledge sessions.”
Gregg expanded on this, noting how the pandemic had “helped in that it spurs acoustic concern. The pandemic and working from home made us really notice sounds we didn’t notice before. Because of that, acoustics are a talking point more so than ever before.” As a consequence, WoodUpp started focusing on creating “zonal areas for small meetings and Zoom conversations, localising the sound qualities to people inside of the buildings”. WoodUpp recognised that “the people’s needs have changed post pandemic” and its products allowed offices and working spaces to capitalise on the desired trend to ‘bring the outside’ into the working area.
Richard agreed wholeheartedly; “over the course of my career, acoustics has become more and more mainstream in both the people’s and designer’s thinking. It was on the cards for a while but the global pandemic meant people talked about it more. I think people have realised not only the level of sounds but also the quality of sound and sound environments we are experiencing. We don’t experience building in single senses. By understanding products more and what they offer - through this partnership - aesthetically as well as acoustically we have a much better chance of getting these products into buildings so they can sound better which is our modus operandi.”
As Gregg indicates, “working directly with manufacturers is definitely the way forward” with Richard expanding on this need from an acoustician’s perspective; “the designs we offer are only as good as the data we have and our knowledge of the product market. There are many benefits to having access to all these Quiet Mark certified NBS products and will improve product knowledge among acousticians and work alongside manufacturers to establish what can and could be done. It will provide knowledge of the industry among acousticians first and foremost.”
Image: Of the 75 hand dryers listed on NBS Source, 9 are Quiet Mark certified and appear when the user selects the Quiet Mark Certification filter in the left hand navigation menu. Empowering architects and interior designers to specify ‘acoustics first’, by providing a short-cut for responsible product sourcing.
In the same way that our partnership with John Lewis & Partners has generated 10,000 ‘Quiet’ searches a month on the John Lewis website, the same growth in awareness for Quiet will make leaps and bounds thanks to NBS’s collaborative platform. Richard succinctly unpacked this modern need to filter for quiet and sustainable products. “We live in a world that is driven towards filtering down towards everything we need. If we can offer a filter that gives the user a sense of control that enables them to follow their values, then that takes us a step further into understanding the art of the possible. Optimisation of products at an early stage will also become much more important in giving specialists the ability to speak to manufacturers and offer optimisation in reducing the amount of materials used in products from a sustainability perspective. In that sense, Quiet Mark enables users to filter what they need and the NBS platform enables acousticians and architects to work with manufacturers early on to optimise what is needed”.
We remain excited and hopeful to witness the benefits - both long and short term - that will blossom from Quiet Mark’s new partnership with NBS; encouraging more collaboration and education surrounding the importance of improved acoustics in the built environment and the elevated wellbeing it brings.
Listen to Episode 37: The Quiet Mark & NBS Partnership - Prioritising Wellbeing in Buildings, HERE.