Five Ways to be Green With Ceilings, Soundmasking
For facility managers interested in sustainable design, careful selection of ceiling systems is crucial. Green ceilings and soundmasking can address a range of important sustainability issues, from materials to indoor environmental quality and even energy efficiency. Here's a look at five of the areas facility managers should check out when evaluating ceiling options.
1. Ceiling Tile Recycling
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.
2. Recycled Content
Many 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.
3. Ceiling Product Composition
Ceiling companies are also working to become more green by becoming more transparent about what's in their products through the promulgation of environmental product declarations (EPDs).
For example, Armstrong has issued nine EPDs on its mineral fiber and fiberglass family of products, beginning in May of 2012.
"This is still new to the industry," says Snader. "The driver has been the inclusion of EPDs as part of LEED." New standards for LEED certification, expected to be released in the second half of 2013, will include a new credit for issuing EPDs.
Hunter Douglas has started the process of producing EPDs, says Ko Kuperus, general manager for specialty product. "It is worthwhile to explain how products are made, where they come from, and what their impact is," he says. "With official third-party declarations you can compare apples to apples."
USG is also moving toward release of EPDs through its internal life cycle assessments, which help the company determine the environmental impact of its products.
Here's a look at five ways to be green with ceilings and soundmasking.