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SoundScapeIssue 0132In the UK today, 80% of the population - 50 million people - now live in urban areas. This has a significant impact on the way we live and the amount of noise we generate. As we live ever closer to one another, the twin problems of our noise and our carbon footprint become intrinsically linked. Take London, a city of eight million people living in 659 square miles: in addition to emitting a constant cacophony of noise the city also generates 90 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.A World Health Organisation report from 2007 suggested that over 3,000 people die each year in the UK as a result of coronary heart disease caused by long-term exposure to noise. The report highlighted the impact, globally, that noise has on stress levels and health. It concluded that 2% of Europeans suffer severely disturbed sleep because of noise pollution, 15% suffer severe annoyance and that chronic exposure to loud traffic noise causes 4% of tinnitus cases. These figures were sobering in 2007 and they are likely to be worse now. As we live ever closer to one another, the twin problems of our noise and our carbon footprint become intrinsically linked.Taking these drastic noise pollution figures into account, there is a clear imperative for proactive steps to be taken to protect the population from the severe consequences of unwanted noise. The installation of insulation in public and private buildings is one method of tackling noise pollution by allowing the treated building to become a refuge from urban noise for those who live and work in these spaces. Insulating homes to deliver significant environmental and acoustic benefits has never been easier, with billions of pounds worth of grants, subsidies and schemes now available. There is currently a golden opportunity to address this in residential properties through government incentives such as CERT (Carbon Emissions Reduction Target, www.decc.gov.co.uk). CERT imposes an obligation on energy companies to invest £2.4 billion over the next 18 months to professionally insulate up to 3.5 million of their customers' homes. To date, nearly one million consumers have already chosen to benefit from CERT. Those who have not are still eligible for subsidised insulation installed in their home that will not only reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint but could also derive significant acoustic benefits. This triple benefit ensures that improvements are felt in the natural and aural environment.The UK is looking to boost energy efficiency within buildings to contribute to the UK's ambition of an 80% CO2 reduction by 2050. Insulating buildings is an effective and cost-efficient solution to help the UK meet this ambitious target. If there were greater awareness of the acoustic benefits of insulation it might increase take-up of the

SoundScapeIssue 0133 As we live ever closer to one another, the twin problems of noise and our carbon footprint become intrinsically linkedscheme. Surprisingly, given the huge amount of funds available and the drastic effect a well-insulated home has on homeowners' energy bills, take up of the scheme is still lagging behind government targets. If people were aware that cavity wall, external wall and loft insulation could dramatically reduce noise penetration then take-up of the scheme would undoubtedly be far greater. Following the government's recent announcement that it is extending the CERT programme as part of its Green Deal, time is of the essence to give utility companies and homeowners the flexibility to specify an insulation that addresses the need to boost energy efficiency and provide increased soundproofing within the home. However, schemes to improve the energy efficiency of British building stock does not stop at residential buildings; there is also funding available to commercial and public sector organisations. Businesses can apply for funding through the government-funded Carbon Trust (www.carbontrust.co.uk), an organisation that provides 0% loans of between £3,000 and £100,000 to businesses who can save 2.5 tonnes of CO2 per £1,000 of loan. Last year £70 million was loaned to 5,000 businesses, saving in excess of 500,000 tonnes of CO2. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) funded Salix Finance (www.salixfinance.co.uk) works with public sector organisations to create 'Green' public buildings sustainably. The innovative fund ensures that the savings from projects it finances are poured back into Salix's coffers to provide capital for future projects.Evidently, although in their infancy, schemes exist for homeowners, business and public sector organisations alike to improve inefficient building stock. As 'the lowest hanging fruit', insulation is clearly the first step in achieving the UK's lofty ambition of an 80% CO2 reduction by 2050. The right insulation installed professionally will provide sustainability, thermal properties, in-built fire protection, excellent acoustic benefits and may even give householders a better night's sleep.