In many U.S. classrooms, the speech intelligibility rating is 75 percent or even less, according to the Technical Committee on Architectural Acoustics of the Acoustical Society of America. That means that listeners with normal hearing can understand only 75 percent of the words read from a list. Statistics like this are helping put acoustics in educational settings toward the top of the list for design and construction considerations.
A major component of a comprehensive noise management program is the flooring. Based on a study by the American Society of Interior Designers, carpet is deemed to be 10 times more efficient in reducing noise compared to other flooring options. When a cushioned backing made with polyurethane technology from The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) is added, noise levels can be further reduced.
According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, research shows that background noise from inside and outside the classroom negatively affects learning. Excessive noise and reverberation interfere with speech audibility, resulting in diminished understanding, learning and ability to focus on the lessons at hand. So the pressure is on for those in charge of school facilities to create a quieter environment that's conducive to learning.
That's where Dow polyurethane carpet backing technology can help. “Educational spaces like classrooms and libraries require peace and quiet,” said Scott Lowrie, business manager for Dow Polyurethane Floor Coverings Group. “The addition of a cushioned backing made with our ENHANCER™ Technology plays a major role in a space's acoustic properties.”
Polyurethane technology for commercial carpet creates a unique molecular structure, forming a polymeric bond between the primary and secondary backing. The result is a unified composite material that improves the performance of carpet. Polyurethane cushioned backing serves as an effective noise reducer by minimizing the sound of foot traffic, providing effective absorption of airborne sound and reducing sound transmission to rooms below. Based on acoustical studies and field experience, carpet with an integral polyurethane cushion can be an important part of a comprehensive noise management program.
In addition to offering acoustic benefits, Dow polyurethane backing technology improves the overall performance of commercial carpet, including appearance retention, durability and comfort. For educational environments, that means carpet backed with Dow polyurethane technology can stand up to the tough conditions students dish out including high traffic, spills, stains, snags and pulls. Carpet simply looks better longer when installed with a firm polyurethane cushion - an important characteristic for tight school budgets. Cushioned polyurethane backings also provide comfort underfoot for students and teachers, as well as help prevent slips and falls.