Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Solutions is offering its Health Zone ceiling systems and Clean Room Grid systems—currently contributing to protection of staff and patients in hospitals and health-care facilities—to all building owners who want occupants to be and feel safer indoors.
Employers preparing for return to work will likely have two major concerns: protecting against workplace disease spread and helping employees feel safe. Airborne transmission of pathogens can pose a threat to people indoors, including tenants, employees, students and customers. Armstrong solutions are designed to contribute to cleaner, quieter and healthier spaces, all of which are important attributes to help building owners address post-COVID-19 safety concerns.
A recent survey shows that 60 percent of architects and designers are finding that most or all their building owner clients are discussing how to make their interiors safer and healthier because of the pandemic. The three most popular actions beyond enhanced cleaning are: space layout or reconfiguration changes (85 percent), upgrades or changes to HVAC systems (64 percent), and the addition of walls or dividers (61 percent).
Indoor air flow is impacted by many variables, particularly in interior environments where air movement is affected by fans, diffusers, ceilings, walls and people. Architects and building owners looking to retrofit existing facilities or design new spaces can incorporate products being used today to help protect people from diseases in healthcare environments, for use in any indoor space.
“Health-care organizations across the country are using negative pressure rooms, gasketed ceiling systems and filtration devices to reduce transmission of viruses,” says Dr. Jeffrey Siegel, leading air filtration expert at the University of Toronto. “This approach hasn’t been widely adapted to the workplace or education settings yet but could provide a health benefit or cleaner air in those settings.” Ceilings play an integral role in the effectiveness of these approaches used in health-care facilities.
Armstrong Health Zone ceilings with BioBlock Plus performance resist the growth of bacteria, mold, mildew and odor on the ceiling tile surface. Health Zone ceilings are safe for use with CDC-recommended disinfectants and are also water repellent, washable, sustainable, and recyclable.
Health Zone panels also exceed Facility Guidelines Institute requirements for cleanability and acoustics in general healthcare spaces. They can be paired with gasketed Clean Room Suspension (grid) systems in areas where air pressure is used to redirect contaminated air away from occupants.
“In most buildings, the ceiling grid and panels are effectively part of the supply and return air ducting,” adds Rives Taylor, director of Design Resilience at Gensler architecture. “Investing in a gasketed suspended ceiling where there are concerns about recirculation of contaminated air should be considered. This potentially helps any effort to filter the air.”
“Armstrong’s Health Zone ceiling systems, originally designed for healthcare environments, can help meet the demands of creating healthier spaces beyond healthcare,” says Victor Grizzle, CEO of Armstrong World Industries. “As we collaborate with architects, designers, building owners and leading experts, they consistently reinforce the important role ceilings systems play in healthy space designs. As the leader in ceiling systems, we have dedicated resources to continue the innovation leadership required to meet these changing design requirements. We are committed to providing best-in-class healthy space solutions.”
Beyond the ceiling, Armstrong is also introducing a new line of vertical partitions that provide a design-oriented approach to creating greater separation between people. The nonporous and easily cleanable translucent wall panels can transform existing shared spaces into protected and segmented zones. Placing physical barriers is among recommendations in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) “Reopening America: Strategies for Safer Buildings.” Called Infusions Resilient Partitions, these large format, standard 24- by 96-inch wall panels are easy to install and can reconfigure existing layouts to meet social distancing guidelines. Unlike plain plexiglass sheets, they are artfully designed in a variety of patterns and colors and can be hung from ceilings or walls.