International acoustic solutions provider Autex Acoustics’ latest net-zero policy gives the green light to mega-construction projects, without giving up on sustainability.
If you were to run around the perimeter of the new KGX1 building in London’s Kings Cross in under two minutes, you’d be on course to take Olympic glory from Emmanuel Korir. At 330m long, it is longer than the Shard is tall. The latest addition to a zone being dubbed the Knowledge Quarter for its community of learning seats and high-tech media firms, the landscraper is projected to house 7,000 workers when completed in three years time. Imagine what that means in terms of acoustics and the job of fitting out the floors to make of it a high-functioning office space that’s well-engineered for sound. Imagine what the reams of acoustic panelling might mean in terms of material, energy and transport resources.
These are the sort of thoughts that preoccupy Dan Black, who heads up Autex Acoustics in the UK. Acoustic considerations are a huge part of the internal architecture of offices and residences, not to mention educational institutions. Working alongside architects, designers, acoustic engineers and installers to supply the precise customised acoustic treatment requirements is Black’s expertise; in recent times he has collaborated with local teams to successfully kit out Pearson Publishing’s London head office and London’s branch of the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.
When it comes to aesthetics, it’s plain to see why Autex Acoustics might be top of your shopping list; highly creative in its output, products are innovative and sculptural and the company’s commitment to customisation is authentic. But design and architectural choices are about far more than looking good today. ‘Often clients are very quick to ask where the product is made. The environmental impact is very important, and governs buying decisions.’ says Black.
Sustainability is, of course, an essential consideration for any manufacturing business and now that large-scale development projects such as those around Kings Cross have healthy building targets, it’s something all sectors of construction have to work on, or risk obsolescence. Though stylish product may be the visible side of a business, the backroom has to be all about making things happen ethically and environmentally. Never more so than in the acoustics industry, since if left unchecked, the detrimental impact from such volumes of materials and manufacturing processes would be significant.
Autex Acoustics has been working hard on answers, building a clear and transparent approach to sustainability, that aims not only to give them a clear conscience, but to establish them as leaders in the field. ‘Our mission as a responsible and sustainable business is to positively impact our environment, our people, and the next generation and we want to encourage others within our industry to do the same.’ says Autex Acoustics CEO Rob Croot.
The UK government requires all businesses to be net-zero by 2050; actively monitoring carbon emissions since 2017, Autex Acoustics has been reducing its emissions by increasing the efficiency of its plant and infrastructure. While working towards this net-zero goal, the embodied carbon of their product can be offset through the company’s Carbon Neutral Product Initiative. This consideration for climate change is the first of its five-point action plan. Second is a drive to make the business circular, meaning materials are recycled and recyclable and waste is not wasted but another resource. Its durable polyester includes a minimum of 45% recycled bottle flakes – and can be recycled several times in its lifecycle.
Building wellness is another pillar: all Autex Acoustics products are manufactured without harmful chemicals in consideration of human and environmental health. Meanwhile the business is committed to investing in their local community by dedicating funds to social programmes and environmental restoration projects. The final commitment is to ensure social and environmental responsibilities are met all along the supply chain.
This last pledge is perhaps the most important in Black’s environmental armoury and gives him the answer clients want to hear. Though headquartered in New Zealand, Autex Acoustics has satellite sites across the world, which enables manufacturing to happen close to points of use. In the UK, a plant in Huddersfield serves British and European clients, while local sales team are growing globally to limit the movement of people. Though its legacy was born on the other side of the world, the Autex Acoustics that Black leads proudly carries a Made in Britain stamp. If we are going to continue to build mega à la KGX1, while permanently nixing those emissions, perhaps we all need to think global and act local.