Acoustic ceilings to support occupants’ health

GreenGuard certification

“Products that have achieved GreenGuard certification are scientifically proven to meet some of the world’s most rigorous, third-party chemical emissions standards, helping to reduce indoor air pollution and the risk of chemical exposure, while aiding in the creation of healthier indoor environments.”

For next-level verification, products that earn the GreenGuard Gold Certification standard also meet “health-based criteria for additional chemicals and requires lower total VOC emissions levels to help ensure products are acceptable for use in environments like schools and healthcare facilities. In addition to limiting emissions of more than 360 VOCs and total chemical emissions, GreenGuard Gold Certified products must also comply with requirements of the state of California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) [Section 01350].”

Review the selected ceiling product’s GreenGuard Gold Certification to ensure it complies with the room application. Remember the larger the room, the greater its volume, which means there is more air to disperse chemical emissions. For example, the same emission levels will have a greater concentration and potentially greater affect in a small, enclosed office versus a large, spacious lecture hall.

Declare labels

Compliance with CDPH Section 01350 is also required for the ILFI’s Living Building Challenge 4.0 standard. Specifically, Imperative 10 requires all interior building products that have the potential to emit VOCs to demonstrate their compliance. Imperative 13 further requires manufacturers disclose the ingredients in their products to ensure they are free of Red List chemicals.

ILFI explains, “The Living Building Challenge (LBC) Red List represents the ‘worst in class’ materials, chemicals, and elements known to pose serious risks to human health and the greater ecosystem that are prevalent in the building products industry.” Included on the LBC Red List are VOCs in wet applied products, monomeric and polymeric flame retardants, and antimicrobials marketed with a health claim.

The Declare Label 2.0 by ILFI supports the Living Building Challenge by providing a transparent materials database that project teams can select from to meet the Red List requirements. There are three types of Declare Labels:

• Declared—This indicates 100 percent disclosure, but contains one or more Red List chemicals that are not covered by an existing exception.

• LBC Red List Approved—This indicates a minimum of 99 percent disclosure, but relies on one or more exceptions to demonstrate compliance.

• LBC Red List Free—This provides the highest assurance, indicating 100 percent disclosure and that the product does not contact any chemical on the LBC Red List.

Beyond complying with the CDPH’s state-specific requirements, and meeting ILFI’s Living Building Challenge 4.0 standard and Declare Label 2.0, products verified and certified for low VOC emissions also are recognized by Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Criteria, Fitwel, and as mentioned earlier, USGBC’s LEED v4.1 and WELL v2.

In addition, ILFI, WELL, and LEED recognize and reward more expansive product ingredient reporting through health product declarations (HPDs).

Several ceiling products’ HPDs are publicly available and published through the Health Product Declaration Collaborative’s Open Standard v2.2. This voluntary, standard format uses basic inventory methodology for reporting product-level thresholds and compositional chemistry down to 1000 ppm.

Providing architects, interior designers, and specifiers with Declare Labels, HPDs, and other transparent certifications gives them the right information to evaluate and select ceiling products based on their merits and performance.


Corgan specified acoustic stone wool ceiling panels for Pioneer Natural Resources corporate offices in Irving, Texas. The office’s stone wool ceilings are certified for low-emitting products, provide 85 percent light reflectance for energy efficiency, and achieve an NRC of up to 0.95 for high sound absorption. Photo by Corgan/courtesy Rockfon

In every commercial building project, design and specification professionals balance aesthetic choices and performance requirements, including IEQ factors influencing people’s health and well-being.

While there are many choices in acoustic ceilings, stone wool’s inherent properties meet multiple performance criteria:

• Achieve high sound absorption, NRC 0.90 or higher, for an optimal acoustic experience;

• Support good IAQ, certified with GreenGuard Gold for low emissions and LBC Red List approved Declare Label;

• Resist moisture, humidity, and mold without antimicrobials;

• Provide high light reflectance, 0.85 or higher, contributing to energy efficiency; and

• Meet a Class A fire rating, indicating it will not spread flame or smoke.

As part of a suspended ceiling system, stone wool panels also:

• Deliver high durability and clean easily;

• Offer a 30-year standard warranty for most applications; and

• Provide access to the plenum for future building upgrades.

Working closely with a qualified ceiling system manufacturer will help ensure the project achieves its IEQ goals and other design objectives.

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