4  FM quick reads on interiors

1. Ceiling Tile Recycling Can Help With Green Efforts


Ceiling tile recycling programs have been offered for more than a decade. Manufacturers that offer these programs will generally take back ceiling tiles from any company, as long as the tiles do not contain hazardous materials like asbestos or lead.

Many manufacturers incorporate this recycled content into their products. Hunter Douglas, for example, offers metal ceilings with 70 to 95 percent recycled content.

Armstrong's ceiling-to-ceiling tiles contain 15 to 18 percent post-consumer content. Armstrong's tiles vary in percentage of recycled content overall, with its greenest tile at 79 percent.

What's more, companies that recycle do not have to pay for dumpsters or landfill tipping fees. And depending on the number of tiles involved, the manufacturer may cover shipping. As a result, it doesn't cost more to recycle, says Anita Snader, environmental sustainability manager, Armstrong World Industries. "Our investment is in freight and processing," says Snader.

Manufacturers also offer other help with logistics. For example, if less than a full truckload of ceiling tiles is involved, USG Corporation will help businesses arrange to get those ceiling tiles removed through a network of local consolidators that the company has set up, says Al Zucco, senior director for sustainability.

"We want to increase post-consumer content in our products," Zucco says. "Ninety percent of our tiles are recyclable, and we have an HRC (high recyclable content) program." Zucco says that large number of the company's tiles have more than 50 percent of their content made from recyclable material.

Armstrong coordinates runs so if trucks are going to a certain location to deliver tile, they will, whenever possible, bring back a load of old tile for recycling. Armstrong also coordinates with local waste-management companies to bring the necessary equipment to the site of renovation so that the tiles can be hauled away.

From the building management side, it's up to the building owner, architect, or general contractor to develop a waste-management plan at the inception of a renovation, Snader explains, and register a project as early as possible.


2.  Ceiling Manufacturers Offer Recycled Content, Recycling Programs

Many ceiling manufacturers incorporate recycled content into their products. Hunter Douglas, for example, offers metal ceilings with 70 to 95 percent recycled content.

Armstrong's ceiling-to-ceiling tiles contain 15 to 18 percent post-consumer content. Armstrong's tiles vary in percentage of recycled content overall, with its greenest tile at 79 percent.

"We want to increase post-consumer content in our products," says Zucco. "Ninety percent of our tiles are recyclable, and we have an HRC (high recyclable content) program." Zucco says that large number of the company's tiles have more than 50 percent of their content made from recyclable material.

Ceiling tile recycling programs have been offered for more than a decade. Manufacturers that offer these programs will generally take back ceiling tiles from any company, as long as the tiles do not contain hazardous materials like asbestos or lead.

What's more, companies that recycle do not have to pay for dumpsters or landfill tipping fees. And depending on the number of tiles involved, the manufacturer may cover shipping. As a result, it doesn't cost more to recycle, says Anita Snader, environmental sustainability manager, Armstrong World Industries. "Our investment is in freight and processing" says Snader.

Manufacturers also offer other help with logistics. For example, if less than a full truckload of ceiling tiles is involved, USG Corporation will help businesses arrange to get those ceiling tiles removed through a network of local consolidators that the company has set up, says Al Zucco, senior director for sustainability.

Armstrong coordinates runs so if trucks are going to a certain location to deliver tile, they will, whenever possible, bring back a load of old tile for recycling. Armstrong also coordinates with local waste-management companies to bring the necessary equipment to the site of renovation so that the tiles can be hauled away.

From the building management side, it's up to the building owner, architect, or general contractor to develop a waste-management plan at the inception of a renovation, Snader explains, and register a project as early as possible.

3.  Open Work Spaces Require Careful Noise Management

Today's tip is to minimize extraneous noise in open office settings. Many organizations have found that a more open environment, with movable partitions and plenty of meeting places, is more conducive to productivity than the permanent offices that prevailed 30-some years ago.

But openness means that employees are likely to be distracted by other employees' conversations, cell phones ringing, etc. To get the benefits of open office designs while minimizing distractions, a range of acoustical goals come into play, says Jeffrey Fullerton, director of architectural acoustics with Acentech. These include controlling the noise in common areas, creating some level of privacy and sound absorption for workers at their desks, and creating private rooms for confidential discussions.

It's easiest to achieve specific goals when the building is designed with acoustics in mind from the start, says Raj Patel, principal with Arup, an engineering and consulting firm. Otherwise, the costs to remedy any noise problems tend to spike.

When developing the acoustical environment, the acronym ABC comes into play, says Fullerton. That is, you want to absorb, block and cover sounds. Absorption requires what might be called passive tools, such as sound-absorbing ceiling panels. "It may be a greater cost initially, but it requires no maintenance or additional changes," says David Joiner, principal with JaffeHolden. Without sound-absorbing ceiling panels, employees' conversations and similar sounds will reflect off the ceiling.

Effective sound-absorbing ceiling materials will have an NRC, or noise reduction coefficient, of .85 or greater, meaning that they remove 85 percent of the sound bouncing off the ceiling. Fiberglass ceiling tiles with a painted finish tend to have NRCs that are about 25 percent higher than what mineral fiber tiles provide, says Thomas Trask, senior associate with Newcomb & Boyd. Fiberglass "is more absorptive at the same thickness versus mineral fiber."

To offer tiles that both block sound from the plenum and also absorb sound from offices below, some manufacturers are developing tiles that combine fiberglass and mineral fiber, Fullerton says.

Another situation where sounds need to be managed both from above and below is in open plenum spaces, where the bottom of the exposed concrete deck reflects sound. One solution is to incorporate sound-absorbing material into the design. Ceiling system manufacturers have developed products specifically for open plenum spaces.

4.  Balancing Innovation With Practicality in Green Interiors

As sustainable interior choices continue to mature, facility managers are faced with an ever widening array of possibilities in everything from paints to furniture, wall coverings to carpeting. Just about everywhere you look, a green choice is an option. And designers love to play with new toys, which leaves facility managers to balance out how to pursue higher functionality and performance with the realities of running a facilities management department.

Here is what Peter Strazdas associate vice president, facilities management at Western Michigan University, has to say on the matter of balancing green innovation with practical considerations. First of all, whatever product is selected requires training the staff on how to use it and maintain it. And then, "if you keep adding new stuff, the operating folks become less efficient, because now they have to stock more," he says. "Your maintenance stock is going to be inefficient. So the more new stuff you get on a campus, the more variety that you have, designers love it and maintenance people hate it."

More variety equals less efficiency in maintaining stock. Which is not to say stick with the same old same old just for the sake of inventory management. At Western Michigan, they have a maintenance storeroom with $1million worth of product. If they had one of everything, that would be an inefficient storeroom, Strazdas says. On the other hand, he adds, only one light bulb type for the whole campus would be inefficient.

"You have to introduce the new stuff in a smart way to have a reasonable shot at maintaining a balance for the operating side of the budget," he says.


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interiors , ceiling recycling , sustainability , green

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