A New Approach to Referencing Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) for the Construction Industry

By:  Jim Nugent, Regional Sales Manager

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Badger State Fruit Processing Expansion

For many years the EPS industry has used material density as a way to identify material types, in the construction industry, the time has come to reevaluate that terminology. While I have been in the EPS industry for over 25 years, I am not really sure how we evolved to using the density of our products as a way to identify the material (other rigid insulations do not). I suppose I can speculate that target densities are relevant to the expansion and molding in our manufacturing process, but to an architect or engineer knowing the weight of EPS insulation is not very helpful.

Characteristics like R-Value, compressive strength, and flexural strength can be used determine what EPS material should be used to thermally protect a building or structurally support a slab, paver, and soils.

In the architectural division at ACH Foam Technologies we have started an initiative to change the way we communicate about our products both internally with our teammates and externally with our customers, architects, and engineers.

Architects and engineers are very comfortable using ASTM designations in their specifications. However, we understand that for our distributors and their contractor customers it will take time to adapt to referring to EPS products by something other than density. A good example of this evolution is the Badger State Fruit Processing facility in Pittsville, WI where the owner and management team at Badger State saw the value and versatility of Foam-Control Plus+ architectural EPS insulation and specified Foam-Control Plus+ 150 (15psi) for their roof and Foam-Control Plus+ 250 (25psi) and 400 (40psi) for the their perimeter and under-slab insulations.

This new approach to referencing EPS insulation is not an easy task, especially since the industry has become accustomed to density when the other physical properties are a much more effective way to find the right EPS material for a project.  We understand it will take time; however, this change is part of the evolution of EPS becoming the most specified insulation and structural fill material for commercial construction projects.

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Rooftop Plazas – Valuable Real Estate

By: Pat Austin, Sales Representative – Architectural Products

Pat Austin November 3875004-R1-E004In today’s urban landscape, green space is often a valuable commodity in short supply. Real estate values in these environments often make outdoor landscapes impractical. Yet people still crave views of the sky with green open spaces. The developers of Lucky Apartments in Madison, WI realized this and gave their occupants exactly that – by transforming a rooftop space from a barren utilitarian canvas to an outdoor gathering space, complete with fireplace, patio and gazebo.

Creating rooftop plazas does not come without challenges, however. Weight is a significant consideration, both dead and live loads. That’s where Foam-Control® Geofoam comes in. By offering the ability to create complex geometric configurations capable of bearing tremendous loads, all while adding minimal loading to the structure, making achievable designs possible.

At Lucky Apartments, a layer of tapered Foam-Control® Geofoam flattened out the structurally-pitched roof deck. A second layer of tapered geofoam on top of this provided drainage to a synthetic turf lawn area, while carrying the accompanying live loads of occupants enjoying the outdoors.

The end result is that residents can enjoy cookouts and music concerts on spaces previously reserved for HVAC units and air-handling equipment. Pretty lucky if you ask me!

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Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

By: Chris Benson, Packaging Specialist

As Thanksgiving nears and we all start thinking about what and who we are thankful for, I wanted to recognize some ACH Foam Technologies team members who are behind the scenes. As this is a blog and not a novel, I cannot recognize everyone in this space. I have selected a few employees from ACH’s Kansas City Shape Molding facility. For these key personnel, I am very thankful and they make all of our jobs easier at ACH Foam in Kansas City.

Brad Wilbur blog pic

Brad Wilbur- Production Schedule/Inventory Control

Brad schedules all the orders for the facility and makes sure stock levels and large orders are scheduled and produced in a timely manner. He does a great job balancing hundreds of different products we manufacture and the quick turnaround times we are able to achieve.

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Chris Kramer- Quality Technician

ACH produces top quality EPS foam products and this would not be possible without Chris checking quality for every product daily and ensuring all of our customers receive our absolute best quality product.

 Thadd Tweet- Production Manager

Thadd Tweet blog pic

Thadd is in charge of production at the facility and the employees who run the shape mold equipment. He works closely with Brad, Chris, and Brian, along with maintenance staff, so the whole production cycle runs smoothly and to ensure all of our customer’s needs are met.

Brian Kirk- Logistics Manager

Brian Kirk blog picBrian handles all the logistics for the facility. He coordinates all the shipments every week for every customer ordering product out of this manufacturing location. Keeping hundreds of shipments organized and getting the product to each customer on time is no easy task, but Brian handles it day in and day out.

From scheduling to manufacturing top quality shape molded EPS products to shipping the finished goods, these key behind the scenes employees help ACH remain the industry leader in EPS manufacturing.

Thank you to all ACH Foam employees for keeping us successful. Everyone is an important cog in the wheel that makes ACH Foam go.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Are you thinking Green as in Recycling?

By:  Bryan Buchanan, Packaging Specialist

75627420copyMany are not aware polystyrene (EPS) packaging is recyclable and is being recycled successfully by businesses and consumers across the United States. The 2013 EPS Recycling Rate Report indicated over 125-million pounds of EPS were recycled that came from commercial, post-consumer and post-industrial sources.  The 2014 Recycling Rate Report will be available this fall.

EPS recycling is definitely growing.  EPS accounts for approximately 50% of all post-use polystyrene recycled in the United States. The EPS industry has worked diligently to make recycling easier for the consumer.  The most significant and visible benefit to recycling are improvements to curbside recycling.  Improving post-consumer recycling helps with the ability to reintroduce recycled EPS back into products which enhances sustainability and is immensely beneficial to the manufacturer as well as the consumer.

Please contact your local sales professional at ACH Foam Technologies and they will help you in the in your recycling.

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What You May Not Know About Your Roof Insulation

By: Jim Nugent, Regional Sales Manager

In Recent years, building codes increased minimum R-Values for commercial buildings which also increased the cost for new and replacement roofs. The insulation in the roof assembly is the most expensive component in the assembly. For this reason owners, architects, consultants, and contractors should be aware of the cost and performance characteristics of this component of their roof assembly.

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Since the late 1980’s Polyisocyanurate (polyiso) has been the dominate rigid foam insulation used in commercial roofs. The growth in Polyiso can be tied to the time frame when membrane manufacturers started producing Polyiso and offering their roof membranes with the insulation, along with their full system warranty.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) roof insulation has been used in commercial roof assemblies for over 50 years providing long-term, stable R-values. As the membrane manufacturers invested in producing Polyiso the use of EPS roof insulation became more prevalent in tapered systems, retrofit metal roofs, green Roofs, plazas decks, and other specialty applications.

From 2011 to today the roofing industry has begun to learn more about the long-term R-value of Polyiso, specifically how temperatures above or below 75 degrees can negatively impact the R-value of Polyiso. In 2011 Mark Graham the technical director of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) published a technical bulletin about the R-value testing of Polyiso. Graham recommended to owners and architects that R-5 per inch was appropriate for parts of the United States where there are more heating days than cooling days, such as the northern part of the US. Whereas, R-5.7 per inch is recommended for areas with more cooling days with warmer climates.

In 2012, Building Science Corporation, a well-respected building envelop consulting firm, published their own findings on the temperature sensitivity of Polyiso. In this article written by Joe Lstiburk, the findings were consistent with Mark Graham’s NRCA technical bulletin. The article confirmed that the R-value of Polyiso drops below R-5 per inch as the mean temperature dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

In 2015 Mark Graham published another technical bulletin on this same topic based on new sampling and testing of Polyiso R-values at 75°, 40°, and 25° degree Fahrenheit mean temperatures. The results of the testing were compelling: average Polyiso R-value at 75° is R-5.55, 40° is R-4.99, and 25° is R-4.05 per inch.

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Why is all of this so important and why should building owners be concerned about the findings? Historically Polyiso has published one R-value. In the 1980’s Polyiso’s R-value was as high as R-7 per inch. Today Polyiso’s published R-value is 5.7 per inch. EPS has always published R-values at 3 mean temperatures; 75°, 40°, and 25°. These published R-values have never changed. As a matter of fact, the thermal value of EPS increases as weather conditions get colder. For example, Type II EPS roof insulation insulation has an R-value of 4.2 at 75°, 4.6 at 40°, and 4.8 at 25°. When temperatures fall below 40° it becomes more crucial for your insulation to be effective. The R-values of EPS are equal to or higher than Polyiso! Wait, did I just say EPS R-values are higher than Polyiso….? Yes!

Each year in the US billions of dollars are spent on Polyiso roof insulation, often without any consideration of its effectiveness. Articles published by industry respected organizations confirm that the insulation in those roofs, especially in certain regions of the US, are most likely under-performing. What does this all mean? That there is a large percentage of commercial buildings in the cooler, northern climates that would benefit from a better performing insulation such as EPS. The added benefit of its lower cost per R-value also saves building owners significant material costs. It’s a winning combination: effective, stable performance at a lower cost.

Learn more about Foam-Control® EPS roof insulation.

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