John Connell Awards 2021 was held in the Terrace Pavilion, Palace of Westminster, on Wednesday, 20th October 2021. We are delighted that the Minister Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defra and Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds kindly presented the awards, and so pleased that Colonel Bob Stewart DSO, Member of Parliament for Beckenham, once again, kindly hosted the event.

The John Connell Awards are open to local authorities, industry and organisations throughout the UK and Europe. The awards recognise innovative services, campaigns, products and programmes that are shining examples of community co-operation, education and creative solutions to solve noise pollution problems and improve soundscapes. For the 2021 Awards, projects which have been carried out during the past 48 months are eligible. Planning and works may have commenced prior to this period, and the positive results may be ongoing.

John Connell Awards 2021 was kindly sponsored by:

This award recognises that controlling excessive and unwanted noise in the community is one of the many tough responsibilities for Environmental Health Practitioners. Local Authorities are continually challenged to demonstrate imaginative and sustainable initiatives in the management of noise issues. The John Connell Local Authority Award recognises services, campaigns and programmes that are shining examples of community cooperation, education and creative solutions to solve noise pollution problems.

Winner: London Borough of Southwark, Multiplex and SV Acoustics for the construction of the Bankside Yard.

Faced with a large-scale mixed-use construction in Central London closely surrounded by residential streets, involving abnormal load movements, installations and out of hours working, this Local Authority set a goal to produce an exemplar noise mitigation target using noise modelling, monitoring and assessments, as well as effective collaboration between the contractors and the Council, empathetic engagement with the residents, and innovative technology to minimise noise impact.

This successful best practice resulted in no complaints from residents and will now be incorporated into the Local Authority’s Code of Construction for other contractors to follow in the future.

Highly Commended: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Anti-social drivers of modified noisy ‘supercars’, use London streets at night as a destination to show off their vehicles, generating vociferous complaints from residents and businesses alike. This Council team successfully tackled the problem head-on by installing ‘Acoustic Cameras’, effectively gathering evidence of excessive noise to issue enforcement notices, which led to a significant reduction of complaints, as well as a reduction in offences.

This award, kindly sponsored by RHE Global, recognises local authorities that have best used The Noise App to support the assessment and management of local community’s noise problems. This includes how a local authority has communicated the existence of The Noise App service in its area, following up responses to noise complaints made using The Noise App, and successful outcomes in solving noise issues facilitated by The Noise App.

Winner: North Somerset Council

This Local Authority has used the Noise App to its full potential, gathering real time evidence to identify behaviour disturbances out of hours, which would have otherwise been impossible. The Noise App also enabled investigation of cases throughout Covid without a break in their service. For example, one case involved response to multi-agency reports of loud music, harassment, child neglect and domestic violence where a successful injunction was enabled through the Noise App recorded evidence.

Highly Commended: Pobl Group

This Housing Association manages 10,000 properties across Wales and when allegations are made about a tenant causing distress and annoyance to neighbours, it has used evidence gathered via The Noise App to frame the response to a request for a community trigger review, and for supporting court applications; it has also found that the App has helped those cases which do not meet the threshold of breach of tenancy but can help to open up dialogue between victims and perpetrators.

The Institute of Acoustics has been marking the International Year of Sound by holding a secondary schools competition as an opportunity to introduce students to acoustics and encourage them to listen more carefully to the world around them.

Winner: St Oscar Romero Catholic School

The aims of the International Year of Sound are to highlight the importance of sound in all aspects of life on earth so that there is a greater understanding of sound-related issues at the national and international level.

As part of the Year of Sound, the Institute of Acoustics held a Schools’ competition to encourage students to listen more carefully to the sound environment. Entrants were asked to design a Soundwalk, a route in the vicinity of their school, with stops where the sounds at those various locations were identified.

The winners of the competition had an innovative entry with detailed description of the sounds they heard and the sources and understood the emotional aspects of sound as well as its sound levels.

This award, kindly sponsored by Anderson Acoustics, recognises the advancement of Soundscape principles in line with the international soundscape standard BS ISO 12913 series and the practical ‘real-world’ application of the standard. As a member of the ISO Soundscape standard committee, since 2009, the NAS helped to develop, research and evidence new acoustic measurement and assessment methods which more accurately reflect what the listener hears. Soundscape opens up the possibilities of managing sound in a more positive way to benefit our communities, health and wellbeing.

Winner: APEX Acoustics

This cohousing project offered a unique opportunity to work with future residents during the design and development phase. These are the people most highly motivated to balance their soundscape aspirations with the design and development cost implications. This involved using binaural measurements, environmental noise modelling and building acoustics modelling to create virtualisations – sound with video – of conditions in places that do not currently exist. This process required the synthesis of noise control engineering tools with binaural field recordings, sound mixing, and sound mastering techniques – artful composition built on solid engineering. This case study highlights how a soundscape assessment can reveal new and significant aspects of the acoustic environment for which a regular noise assessment takes no account.

Highly Commended: HUSH CITY Project

In order to protect quiet areas in open country and agglomerations, this new mobile app was developed drawing on the soundscape approach and citizen opinion. It allows mapping quiet areas and collecting associated qualitative and quantative data, including audio recordings, sound pressure levels, pictures and 20 perceptual responses provided by answering a pre-defined questionnaire. After the submissions of the data sets through the mobile app, data are geo-referenced and time-stamped in real time to the open-access map, which is available via both the mobile and the web-based version of the app. Hush City received funding from the TU Berlin – Marie Curie Actions Program (2016-2018), the HEAD-Genuit Foundation (2018-2020) and the Brazilian Association for Acoustical Quality – ProAcustica (2020).

This award, kindly sponsored by Brigade Electronics, recognises significant advances in industry awareness and best practice to reduce noise from operations and logistics. This award is for organisations which have developed proven noise reduction programmes, whether through the adoption of quieter transport modes, low-noise ancillary equipment, staff training or other pro-active noise awareness initiatives.

Winner: Lawsons Eco Truck

This company regularly delivers building materials from its Camden base into sensitive urban zones using an on-board crane to lift extremely heavy loads. Normally, the vehicle’s engine must be constantly run to drive the hydraulic pump which powers the crane. This creates constant noise nuisance.

The new Eco Truck has a 7.8-litre natural gas engine producing 70% less NOx than its diesel equivalent, 99% fewer particulates and up-to 15% less CO₂. Its gas-engine is also 50% quieter than an equivalent diesel, and the HIAB crane is powered via battery-pack providing near silent operation.

The Eco Truck has become an essential tool for contractors who carry out work in noise-sensitive locations, a bonus is that drivers say “We are not fatigued because we are not working with the constant drone of the truck’s engine running. After a 10-hour shift, you really notice the difference a quieter vehicle makes.”

The Future Sound Foundation award is the NAS programme to develop multi-disciplinary soundscape research, practice and evidence, to support policy makers and help equip the next generation of acousticians, designers and urbanists.

Winner: Quiet Project, from London South Bank University and KSG Acoustics

The COVID-19 Lockdown created a new kind of environment both in the UK and globally, never experienced before or likely to occur again. The UK had no centrally administrated approach to measure or assess this new normal.

The acoustic community were mobilised through existing networks, Institute of Acoustics, Association of Noise Consultants, and the UK Acoustics Network (UKAN) engaging 100+ private companies, individuals, public organisations, and academics to gather data and observations in safely accessible locations (302 locations).

The Natural History Museum created a virtual exhibition through their website entitled Nature Liberated by Lockdown which featured data from this project, which will also form an arm of the newly formed IoA Noise Centre for the Coordination of Acoustic Research, meeting one part of the UKAN’s research objectives.

Innovation is the key to successfully solving noise pollution for the benefit of all. This award, kindly sponsored by the Institute of Acoustics, recognises original thinking when faced with particularly challenging acoustic issues, whether through noise control or reduction programmes, management, technology or good acoustic design.

Winner: Carrier Transicold UK

This pioneering technology is the first fully autonomous, all-electric, engineless refrigerated trailer system that delivers zero-emissions and no mechanical noise – one of the most exciting new products this company has ever brought to market.

The Vector eCool is an example of this company’s commitment to develop technology that answers the noise and emissions restrictions faced by operators in our town and city centres. Sainsbury’s was so impressed with its performance it has become the first UK retailer to introduce the system to its delivery fleet.

The winner for its innovative Vector® eCool™ refrigerated trailer system is Carrier Transicold UK.

Highly Commended: Arup

Highway upgrades are being planned between the A1 at Scotch Corner and the M6 at Penrith, notoriously busy junctions on the A66, a key national route across the north of England.

This company used a set of sound demonstrations to simulate the traffic noise impacts that this scheme will create, to enable residents to better understand changes to the 50-mile route’s existing soundscape.

An innovative object-based audio road noise auralisation engine was developed, which enabled the creation of accurate and flexible sound demonstrations for National Highways’ public consultations.

The STEM Award, kindly sponsored by the Association of Noise Consultants and ANV Measurement Systems, is part of The Association of Noise Consultant’s #ExploreAcoustics initiative and recognises short video communications aimed at inspiring young people to consider acoustics as a STEM career and encourages the acoustics community to get more involved in delivering STEM activities.

Highly Commended: SRL Technical Services ‘Exploring Tranquility’

This video was a great walk around the world of the acoustician showing the variety of interesting jobs and varied environments where sound measurement data is essential. Really engaging presenters who were easy to watch, good script and creative production.

Winner: AECOM ‘Theo’s Soundwalk’

This video is aimed at younger children aged 4- 6 using a cartoon format which works well. The message is simple and easy to understand encouraging the young viewer to listen and be aware of the everyday sounds around them.

The John Connell Next Generation Award’ recognises and encourages the next generation of acoustic and soundscape practitioners.

Winner: London South Bank University and Callux

Creating awareness amongst younger people about environmental noise is a big challenge, but one that has been met by this engaging YouTube video. It has a fun script transcending age and location called ‘Staying in the Quietest Room in the World… until I went crazy’. This involved filming the presenter sitting in an anechoic chamber in the dark, not allowed to sleep and only allowed to speak for one minute, every five minutes. During which time he described his deteriorating condition. After an hour and a half he had had enough…This video is fascinating and obviously very gripping as it has been viewed well over 14 million times and the TikTok video has had over 55 million views. It has managed to create an interest in acoustics amongst a new younger audience in an amazingly engaging way – do watch it!

This award, kindly sponsored by ROCKWOOL UK, recognises significant advances in acoustic excellence within the Built Environment.

Winner in the Acoustic Design category: Hawkins\Brown

The exciting new Bristol University Library features thoughtful acoustic design throughout, based on extensive consultation workshops with the potential users of the space – 1st and 2nd year students, university staff and an array of community members of all ages. Board games and word card games were used to illicit exactly what people wanted from the space. Surprisingly there was a constant request from the students to digitally disconnect – they wanted to escape from digital noise in this library space. This has been successfully achieved by thoughtful acoustic design, skilfully weaving in designated spaces for the digital and the analogue.

Winner in the Acoustic Materials category: BuzziSpace

This company burst onto the acoustic scene in 2007 with a fresh set of ideas for acoustic interior architecture to create effective and high-quality acoustic solutions, lighting and furniture for the discerning home and workspace that are both functional and inspiring, and believes that a well-balanced acoustic space is a key factor to performance and well-being.

For more information about the John Connell Awards:

John Connell Award Winners 2021


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