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4  FM quick reads on interiors

1. Ceilings Can Help with Green Efforts


The ceiling isn't the first place most facility managers look for energy savings, but it can play a role in making a space more energy efficient. A ceiling with a high light reflectance will bounce a higher percentage of the light that strikes it back into the space below. That's important whether the light source is a fixture or the sun. Either way, a more light-reflective ceiling can help reduce the amount of electricity used to illuminate a space.

Ceiling system manufacturers are branching out to make related products. For example, Hunter Douglas has created a light shelf that works hand in hand with the ceiling to distribute daylight into the interior of a space. A traditional light shelf, a horizontal, reflecting surface, is placed in the window plane, and has a wave-like design that is intended to spread and diffuse light over a larger ceiling surface.

Acoustical design is an element in an overall green design, and acoustic properties of tiles are an important piece in controlling noise in a building — one element of indoor environmental quality. But green interior designs can sometimes create additional problems for acoustical engineers as they try to control sound.

The problem comes when ceilings are eliminated in favor of an open-plenum approach. While that strategy does reduce the use of materials, it also introduces acoustical problems.

In the ABC equation for improving acoustics — absorb sound, block sound, and cover sound — ceiling tiles play the largest role in absorbing sound. Green design isn't the only reason that office spaces are more acoustically challenging than in the past. Design strategies like lower partitions between workers, less space between workers and open work areas with conference tables,

A ceiling also plays a role in hiding speakers and wires. If there is no ceiling, the appearance of sound masking speakers and electronic components becomes a consideration. Ceiling companies have developed products to help absorb sound in open-plenum offices. These products, which are available in a variety of shapes, may be suspended ceiling products designed to be installed over parts of a space or may be mounted directly on the deck.


2.  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.

3.  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.

4.  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.


RELATED CONTENT:


interiors , ceiling recycling , sustainability , green

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