Six Ways to Enhance Space with Sustainable Acoustics

Six Ways to Enhance Space with Sustainable Acoustics

By Anne Kulinski

It’s widely recognized that acoustics are an important element in any built space due to their impact on the health and wellness of the occupants. Noise levels that are too high can impact long-term hearing health while distracting noise can create a loss of focus, impacting student success and employee productivity. Keeping acoustics in the spec can be tough when it comes to budgets, but as designers, we know they’re essential to the overall success of the space. When it comes down to it, it’s good business to have good acoustics. And even better when they’re sustainable.

When designing for sustainability, the makeup of your acoustics is just as important as their performance. With an abundance of acoustic options available, it can be tough to sift through the green-washing clutter to find a solution that delivers on both. While it’s important to advocate for sustainable acoustics to your clients, selecting environmentally-friendly, multi-purpose acoustic solutions to create budget efficiencies will win them over.

It may seem challenging to find these solutions, so we’ve put together a list of 6 ways to blend multi-purpose acoustics into your design using Materials that Matter to make a difference: 

1. Lighten Up to Turn Sound Down

Light is a huge consideration in designing sustainably. Not only does lighting consume energy, but larger windows that bring in natural light may contribute to temperature fluctuations and energy loss. While utilizing soft, natural lighting and minimizing harsh overhead lighting can improve the comfort of the space, incorporating lighter colors into walls and ceilings can help brighten and reflect light to reduce energy usage. 

Impactful acoustic pieces, such as Xorel Artform, can help create a focal point that brightens the room while delivering sound absorption. Cradle to Cradle™ Certified, lab tested, and proven for over 35 years, Xorel is not only the safest, most environmentally responsible textile on the market, it also has acoustic transparency to allow for sound to more simply reach the high-powered acoustic substrate. Available in over 350 patterns, textures and colors, adding energy and light to any space while delivering on style and acoustics has never been more simple. 

2. Infuse Acoustics with Biophilia

In sustainable design, we’re looking to not only care for the ecosystem, but the people who inhabit it. Due to our inherent drive to connect with nature, biophilic design has been shown to have positive effects on the health and well-being of occupants. While direct experience with nature through live plants helps bring in greenery, these plants require delicate on-going care. Incorporating natural materials like responsibly-sourced wood and stone can create the indirect feeling of the outdoors, but they also create more reflective surfaces. 

To bring in nature without the noise, consider the possibilities of the Kirei Ink Biophilia Collection of printed acoustic panels. With stunning stone work and beautiful botanicals, each panel is made from over 200 recycled plastic bottles and is expertly printed using water soluble ink. The panels make it simple to infuse nature and remove plastic from the waste stream while protecting your client’s physical and mental health. 

3. Use Space Division for Sound Diffusion

Product Shown: Kirei Hexa Screens with Kirei Ink Grasscloth Print

Designing with products and materials that stand the test of time is crucial to reduce waste. It becomes even more challenging when you’re not only balancing aesthetics with durability, but also the evolving needs of your client, both immediate and long-term. 

Incorporating hanging acoustic screens to help divide space while absorbing sound offers a flexible, semi-permanent solution that goes the distance for your clients. Easy to install with two simple hang points, Kirei’s EchoScreen diffuses sound in style while offering future flexibility to easily swap locations. If clients need spaces that adapt on the spot, look to EchoScreen’s Rolling Track installation to quickly transform the space with movable partitions.


Provide flexibility with a Rolling Track installation

4. Turn Eyesores into Eye Catching

Product Shown: Kirei Ziggy Clouds

Energy-efficient HVAC and lighting are a must in sustainable design, but can often leave much to be desired when it comes to the look of the ceiling. While it can be challenging to work around these elements to create a ceiling your client loves, fusing acoustics into your design will help ensure your design goes the distance.  

Hide unsightly ceiling elements while turning the volume down on ambient noise by adding acoustic ceiling baffles or clouds. These acoustic elements easily play with HVAC and lighting to create elegant ceilings that invite appreciation. Kirei’s baffles and clouds are made from recycled PET plastic containing at least 60% post-consumer recycled content to help divert plastic from landfills and create a more circular economy while utilizing innovative design techniques to reduce production waste.

5. Think "Whole Room" Acoustics

From floor to ceiling, acoustics are a full-room consideration.

When we approach acoustics, we often think of specific products to solve our sound issues - acoustic wall panels and tiles, ceiling clouds, and baffles. While these are excellent solutions, acoustics are a whole-room game: Anything absorptive helps to combat bad sound that the foundational hard surfaces create. 


Adding acoustically absorbent furniture can help mitigate rogue sound waves while serving the client’s seating needs. Xorel textiles are not only ideal for sustainable fabric-wrapped acoustics, due to their durability, stain-resistance, and acoustic transparency, they’re also outstanding for upholstered acoustic solutions. Always free of PVC, finishes, chlorine, plasticizers, heavy meals, and ozone depleting chemicals, Biobased Xorel is made from the rapidly renewable sugarcane plant and generates a significantly reduced carbon footprint over fossil-fuel based products. 

6. Drape Windows to Dim Sound

Product Shown: Printacoustic Mountain

We love windows for the natural light they bring into a space, but they can be a source of energy loss in addition to their hard surfaces reflecting sound. Balancing privacy and lighting can be tricky, but incorporating sound absorption into your solution will take your design to the next level. 


Using breakthrough technology, our Création Baumann acoustic sheers absorb sound while gently filtering light. Fully vetted through third party certifiers, they’re made of 100% Trevira CS Polyester and are inherently flame retardant, so you and your client can feel just as good about the material as you do the look, sound, and flexibility it delivers. 

Product Shown: Xorel Artform Ridge

Mindfully selected, multi-purpose solutions are essential to the acoustic success of your design and the happiness of your end-users. Navigating these acoustic needs while designing sustainably can be challenging, but with Carnegie by your side, you'll wow your clients in no time.  Reach out to a Carnegie rep today to get started. 

About the Author

Anne Kulinski is the Director of Marketing for Carnegie Acoustic Solutions, working to develop and manage strong processes and teams to help drive our brands' growth. Anne is a versatile, creative leader with a passion for sustainable design, business development, inspiring storytelling, and happy, thriving teams.