Oct 13 2011

One Ceiling Tile at a Time

Helping the environment at UMHS

Speaking of looking up, did you know the new C.S. Mott Children’s and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital was designed with a green roof to reduce heating and cooling costs as well as water runoff?

Here are some other environmental highlights of the new hospital:

  • 93% of the materials harvested from the hospital site were recycled for use in the new building
  • 95% of wood materials are certified in accordance with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) principles
  • Interior materials such as carpet, paint, adhesives and composite woods were chosen for low-emittance characteristics that ensure indoor air quality
  • HEPA filters will enhance air quality for immuno-compromised and other high-risk patients

Read more here.

To catch a glimpse of the latest efforts to create a more environmentally-friendly Health System, all you have to do is look up.

Ceiling tiles from areas throughout the University Hospital and Alfred A. Taubman Health Care Center have been replaced and recycled during various Construction Services renovation projects.

“We find ourselves looking closely at waste created during renovations,” says Donald Wesley, senior architect, Facilities Planning and Development, UMHHC.  “One of the big items that frequently end up in landfills is ceiling tiles.”

This trend began to change when Wesley and his team partnered with Armstrong Industries to implement a pilot ceiling tile recycling program. Armstrong retrieves and recycles ceiling tile waste from UMHHC, regardless of whether it is produced by their company or another vendor.

After picking up pallets of tiles from the Waste Management building on Dean Road, Armstrong ships them back to their world headquarters in Lancaster, Pa.  There, the tiles are ground up and reused to make new ones.

“This provides an opportunity for us to minimize materials going to the landfill, reduce the use of raw virgin materials, reduce the energy used to make ceiling tiles, and reduce the fees for landfill dumping,” says Wesley, who oversees design renovation projects that include everything from moving departments into different buildings to converting office spaces to exam rooms.

These recycling efforts are part of a new initiative coordinated by Wesley along with Paul Guttman, Construction Services director, U-M; Tracy Artley, sustainability programs coordinator, U-M; and Sam Moran, U-M Waste Management Operations.

From July 2010 – June 2011, 16,000 square feet of ceiling tiles from U-M have been collected to be recycled, about half of which came from Health System buildings. This equates to 16,000 pounds. UH corridors, exam rooms, conference rooms and the anesthesia library have recycled tiles during this time.

For every 100 square feet of ceiling tiles collected at UH:

  • 100 pounds of waste is diverted from landfills
  • 1 ton of virgin raw materials are saved
  • 70 kilowatts of energy are saved
  • 95 gallons of potable water are saved
  • 23 kilograms of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions are avoided

Visit the Armstrong Industries website to calculate for yourself.

Next steps could include collaborating with outside contractors who conduct major renovation projects at UMHHC to recycle tiles.

Wesley hopes to incorporate ceiling tile recycling into upcoming projects such as the renovation and reallocation of space in Mott Hospital and sections of Taubman after the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital opens.

2 Responses to “One Ceiling Tile at a Time”

  1. Stefanie Hearing says:

    I think this is amazing and very important!

    Suggestion: as a patient and parent visiting hospitals, I would love to see the ceiling tiles with artwork on them.

    For example: in the pediatric words, examination rooms, hallways, ER, etc.

    Depending on the setting, it may require calming scenery, motivating scenery, U-M signage or just child-friendly ceiling tiles. Perhaps just one per room, not overbearing.

    Thanks Donald and team…well done.

  2. Jill Nabozny says:

    This is a great strategy and I was pleased to read of the initiative and environmental benefits. Please keep up the good work.

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