From ceiling to wall: reuse is everywhere!

Reuse is often a matter of having the right idea at the right time. When we were looking for soundproof panels, we ended up with ceiling panels from a renovated Dreambaby store.

Preventing noise pollution

Our technical units* are noisy and this limits our options in terms of installation on the site. After all, we don't want to both our neighbours. Project engineer Collin Bootsveld: “To remedy this, I went in search of a suitable material to insulate the units. During my search, ceiling panels proved to be an effective and budget-friendly option. In other words, the solution had been hanging over my head all along. I took this idea to purchaser Paul Neirinckx at the beginning of June.”

He knew that the renovation of Dreambaby Waterloo was scheduled for August, which included replacing the ceiling panels. “It presented an excellent opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. The panels were given a second life and we didn't have to buy any panels to test our idea. It also meant a large stock was immediately available if our solution proved to work in practice.”

From theory to practice

To test the operation, we looked at three configurations. Project engineer Pieter Detand: “A container without insulation and two containers, one covered with the ceiling panels and one covered with a more expensive insulation panel. We placed a controlled sound source of 100 dB in the container and measured how much sound the various walls let through and to what extent the sound was reduced inside. The equipment we used for this is also used to measure sound insulation in offices.”

100 decibels is loud. Pieter: “And there's good reason for that. By testing at such a high sound level, we prevent ambient noise from disturbing our measurement results. The tests confirmed our suspicions: the ceiling panels scored best in terms of sound insulation and reduction. They're also considerably cheaper than the insulation panels we included in our test.”

Next generation technical units

Pieter: “I'm currently investigating how we can design the technical unit more efficiently. I'm not only looking at ways to make the unit more compact, but also at ways to tackle the potential noise pollution. In the meantime, will all current technical units be insulated with ceiling panels? Pieter: “We don't know in advance where a technical unit will be installed. That's why we do indeed insulate every container.”

This initiative is part of our participation in Iceberg, a European project on urban mining. Sustainable building materials project manager Hilde Carens: “Construction and demolition waste is a primary waste stream in the EU in terms of volume. Within the Iceberg project we're looking for cost-efficient ways to produce circular products from urban mining. In addition to reusing our existing materials, we're also investigating innovative systems that are already designed for circularity. As Belgium's largest retailer, we manage and (re)build more than 700 buildings. We therefore consider it our social responsibility to do our sustainable (building) bit!”

*A technical unit is a container with a cooling installation inside, the residual heat of which is used to heat the store. We use the system in places where we only need a cooling system for a short period. For example, a temporary store that we install near a store that is undergoing renovation. The plug-and-play concept also helps us to reopen shops more quickly.