Having brought energy ratings to windows and doors, Total Installer talks to the British Fenestration Rating Council’s Lis Clarke about the organisation’s new noise reduction labelling system and how she believes it can help installers win more work.
Despite the impact coronavirus has wreaked on the world, one of the positives cited is how peaceful everything had become. Now, with life returning to some sort of normality – especially roads and railways – for many, having tasted near silence, noise pollution has been exacerbated. However, noise pollution has long been an issue and one that Lis Clarke and her team at the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC) have decided to tackle: “Noise pollution increases stress levels which can have a serious impact on our health,” says Lis. “Most of us have anecdotes about incidences of excessive noise, perhaps on holiday for example. But many people have to live with it. That’s why it’s so important when making home improvements that acoustic performance requirements are considered for the whole building.
“However, few homeowners have any real idea about where to start and we recognised the need for a simplified rating system by which window and door manufacturers and installers can measure and demonstrate the noise reduction performance of their products, and by which homeowners may compare products for their properties,” added Lis. “After some consideration and research, we decided to develop the scheme and through the BFRC brand to incorporate noise in addition to energy.”
Quality of life
“Especially in the current climate, people are looking for new ways in which they can improve the quality of their life and especially as they spend more time working at home. There is a clear need for a simple, understandable rating system by which the effectiveness of windows and doors at reducing noise may be understood.”
Where windows and doors are specified with an emphasis on their noise reduction properties it is important to be able to understand their effectiveness, says Lis: “Having a verified rating gives consumers confidence and allows the installer to effectively promote high performing products. Verification is so important when there are many unsubstantiated claims being made to homeowners. BFRC ratings allow installers to substantiate claims and win more work. The noise reduction rainbow label indicates windows and doors have been verified independently by BFRC and shows the consumer how the product will perform.
“BFRC determines the rating band by verifying the technical evidence provided by the manufacturer,” continues Lis. “BFRC accepts an approved acoustic test report produced in accordance with BS EN 10140 or tabulated values from EN 14351- 1. Installers do not need to provide BFRC with any technical information as this will have already been obtained from the manufacturer. They can receive a rating from A++ to E. The only difference for doors is an approved acoustic test report must be provided for us to verify the performance and provide a rating. There are no tabulated values in EN 14351-1 for doors.”
Lis says the scheme is aimed at residential and commercial installations: “Window and door manufacturers may provide proof and clarity around the quality of their products, whilst both homeowners and specifiers can use the labels as proof of performance.”
She does urge caution, however: “It is important to recognise that replacing or upgrading the windows and doors may not provide a single solution to noise entering the building. Noise reducing windows and doors are often requested by consumers and specifiers who are looking
to combat external noise intrusion and we are encouraging our customers to advise what other measures may be required to meet their expectations in addition to our scheme.”
Useful sales tool
For retail installers the BFRC noise reduction rating scheme is a useful sales tool, designed
to provide a simple method of assessing the acoustic performance of competing windows and doors. It allows comparison and selection of products based on independent assessment of acoustic performance.
“Installers receive their own BFRC noise reduction labels that they can use in their marketing materials and provide to the consumer in the form of a certificate,” advises Lis. “Rainbow rating labels are easy to understand and are familiar to both consumer and industry. This gives installers and homeowners the evidence they need to make the right choice for each home’s window and door performance requirements. Installers can also use the BFRC branding and labels on their website to advertise they are a BFRC Approved Installer,” she concludes.