Projects: Office and Manufacturing Facilities

SMALL BATCH ORGANICS, Manchester Center, Vt.


CEILING INSTALLER: Small Batch Organics


Ceilume thermoformed acoustic panels can be installed to completely conceal fire sprinklers. If a fire starts, heat softens the thermoformed panels, which drop out of the grid, exposing the sprinklers so they can suppress the fire. PHOTO: Ryan Bent

When this specialty granola-making company outgrew its first production facility, the firm’s leaders took over one bay of a mattress factory that had been vacated by the mattress manufacturer. The bay’s ceiling featured a forest of sprinklers, HVAC ducts, compressed air piping and other industrial leftovers from its previous use.

“It’s easy to figure out how to build a wall, but I had never had to think about ceilings,” explains Small Batch Organics’ President Lindsay Martin. “I knew the Food and Drug Administration and local health department had food-safety requirements for ceilings and overhead surfaces. I saw all the sprinkler heads and wondered how I was going to cover them with a ceiling.”

She started doing research online and read about Ceilume and its thermoformed acoustic panels’ drop-out capability. These panels can be installed to completely conceal the sprinklers. If a fire starts, heat softens the thermoformed panels, they deform and then drop out of the grid, exposing the sprinklers and allowing them to function and suppress the fire. This idea intrigued Martin because it offered the possibility of using the existing sprinkler system without the expense of modifying it.

“We showed the product to our local fire marshal, and we got permission to do the ceiling without modifying all the sprinklers,” Martin says. The fire marshal wanted documentation that the proposed drop-out ceilings met National Fire Protection Association standards, and he approved the project based on testing Ceilume has conducted and the product’s approval by IAPMO-UES, an agency that evaluates product compliance with building codes.

BEFORE: This specialty granola-making company had to cover the existing ceiling of its new facility because of food-safety requirements. PHOTO: Small Batch Organics

Martin engaged a friend to install the standard T-Bar ceiling suspension grid; then, she, her husband and another friend installed the ceiling panels. The lightweight panels have occasionally had to be moved for access to above-ceiling mechanical systems but Martin notes moving the panels is easy.

“The ceiling is something I sort of obsessed over because I was really intimidated at the thought: How was I going to cover that warehouse ceiling?” she recalls. “It turned out to be one of the more seamless parts of the build-out of the space.”

CEILING PANELS: 2- by 4-foot Southland Panels in White from Ceilume

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