Research that CISCA has conducted research reveals that suspended ceilings reduce a building’s lifetime operating costs through energy and maintenance savings. “The Life Cycle Study: Suspended Ceilings vs. Open Plenum” shows that even though suspended ceilings cost more initially, they can achieve a life-cycle payback in less than 11 months over open plenum (exposed) designs, depending upon the building type and the region.
generate a rapid payback because they significantly lower building operating
costs by reducing energy consumption and ongoing maintenance costs. Based on
2006-2007 energy rates used in the study, suspended ceilings can lower energy
costs by 9 to 17 percent. Maintenance costs are estimated to be at least 10
percent less than open plenum designs.
“The higher initial
construction costs of a suspended ceiling are offset by the increased energy
savings compared to an open plenum design, often generating a remarkably fast
payback,” said Barry Donaldson, Principal, Barry Donaldson & Associates,
Croton on Hudson, NY, who conducted the
The CISCA Life Cycle
Study is the first initiative spearheaded by association’s Industry Marketing
Advisory, whose goal was to evaluate the performance of suspended ceilings
versus open plenums and quantify the cost benefits.
The CISCA Life Cycle
Study, updated in August 2008, has ramifications for architects, designers,
construction specifiers, building owners, facilities managers and other building
industry professionals who may be looking for ways to reduce energy costs in
buildings. The results show that a continuous wall-to-wall suspended ceiling
system can help them do that.
“This study is an
important step forward for the interior ceiling construction industry,” said
CISCA Executive Director Bonny Luck. “According to the data, wall-to-wall
ceiling systems save energy, lower maintenance costs and represent a ‘green’
Based on the Life Cycle
Study’s energy analysis, suspended ceilings may contribute to LEED EA credit #1
on a building project. LEED EA credit #1 requires a 10.5 percent energy
reduction to earn one point and a 14 percent reduction for two points. Some
buildings could earn credit toward two LEED points just by installing a
suspended ceiling system.
The study methodology
involved a thorough review of available building construction and energy data.
The study looked at two building “prototypes”-a low-rise/mid-rise office
building and a single-story retail food store. Construction and operating costs
were evaluated for both building types in each of five cities-Charlotte,
Chicago, Oklahoma City, Orlando and Phoenix-which represent a broad range of
climate zones, labor markets, construction practices/costs and energy rate
The study’s prototype
buildings were evaluated using data derived from the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and
the Building Owners & Managers Association. Construction characteristics, such as equipment loads, lighting systems
and envelope thermal performance, were based on the minimum code criteria
described in ASHRAE Standard 90.1. RSMeans’ “Construction Cost Data 2007”
supplied the construction and operating cost data-by city and by building
The report found that
suspended ceilings reduce energy consumption, provide remarkable Simple and Life
Cycle Payback schedules and offer excellent sustainable design potential on
has published a Summary Report of “The Life Cycle Study: Suspended Ceilings vs.
Open Plenum” in electronic PDF format. A free copy of the summary is available.
Call CISCA at 630-584-1919 orCISCA@ciscafor a copy.