Silencing the harsh sounds of thermally-active buildings

With exposed interior surfaces for natural heating and cooling, thermally-active buildings can be noisy. Two industry behemoths soften the ruckus with acoustic LED panels.
Written by Mark Halper, Contributor

Thermally activated buildings are a staple of modern eco-efficient design. They retain heat and keep things cool through the use of slabs - often concrete - that also form the core of the building. That leaves a lot of exposed surfaces that can lead to disquieting, echoey noise levels undermining the health and productivity of workers.

Now, two industrial behemoths want to soften the ruckus. You could call them the the Gentle Giants. Holland's Royal Philips Electronics and France's Saint-Gobain are teaming to offer Soundlight Comfort - acoustic panels that hang from the ceiling to absorb sound and, at the same time, provide energy efficient LED lighting.

The panels come from the Ecophon Group at Saint-Gobain, the construction materials company headquartered outside Paris. The integrated LEDs are from Philips Lighting, a division of Eindhoven-based Philips. For Philips, the partnership marks another in a series of corporate collaborations. Last month, Philips and German chemical company BASF said they had developed a transparent car roof that allows daylight through and becomes an interior light at night.

While some lighting experts complain that LEDs emit harsh light, Philips and Saint-Gobain say that their product delivers "good quality white light." They were short on details, and did not provide a price.

Still Soundlight Comfort looks and sounds like another solid burst of green in the "green building" movement. Now if only those slabs that the panels are dampening came from newfangled low-carbon cement, rather than from the conventional CO2-intensive cement making processes. Companies including the UK's Novacem, California's Calera, and others are working on it. More on that another time.

Photos from Philips Lighting

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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