2017 Media Coverage

News & Feature Stories about ACH Foam Technologies & the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Industry


Civil + Structural Engineer
August 2018


Among Chicago’s latest legacy assets, one of Goettsch Partners’ newest additions to the cityscape — 150 North Riverside — stands out as an immediately obvious example of the incredible made possible. Hemmed in by a combination of barriers, including the city’s set-back zoning requirements along the Chicago River and a bustling, seven-line Amtrak right-of-way spanning more than 140-feet, the developable parcel offered only a small sliver of land just 55-feet wide upon which
to build. Meeting the challenge of building a cost-effective high-rise on this site came down to delivering the required floorplate area with a 45-foot lease span supported by four-story trusses on either side of the 39-foot-wide core.

“From the hard edge of the building, we were able to secure the air rights over the Amtrak right-of-way,” said Erik Harris, an associate principal with Goettsch Partners. “We decked over it to create two and a half acres of public greenspace that conceals the parking structure, lobby area, and loading dock enclosing about 28 percent of the site. Though the building is extremely vertical, the site is quite horizontal — both presented equations to solve.” Filling the horizontal void and creating beneficial pedestrian connections to the urban fabric surrounding 150 North Riverside was a multidisciplinary effort involving every aspect of civil, structural, and mechanical engineering integrated within the unique landscape. Craig Soncrant, a principal with Wolff Landscape Architecture led the firm’s
work on the project, relishing the challenge.

“Complicated green roofs and innovative plaza design is where we thrive,” said Soncrant, relaying that Wolff had 21 such projects under construction in 2017 in Chicago alone. Wolff Landscape Architecture’s experience with an alternative, lightweight, structural fill was extensive, and Soncrant proposed geofoam as a workable surface substrate substitute. “EPS geofoam has been a go-to product in our designs for many years,” Soncrant said. “We use it whenever we need a light, strong, durable material to fill voids and make architecturally contoured surfaces.” Read More.
Walls & Ceilings
March 2018


Builders know when formulating the true value of a building product, one must consider a combination of the purchase price,
the installation cost and the possible long-term operational savings that the product provides to the owner during its lifecycle. At Enterprise Precast Concrete of Texas, Operations Manager,
Scott Davis is certain that a high performance building envelope is one of the wisest investments that can be made on any commercial construction project regardless of client or purpose. “I’m confident that there is no better value for a wall system than an insulated architectural precast panel,” says Davis, who has been in the construction industry for more than 18 years and now is the operations manager at Enterprise’s Corsicana, Texas office.

“Insulated precast panels didn’t exist when I started in the business and today they account for more than half of all of our production,” states John Arehart, General Manager of Enterprise Precast, agreeing with Davis’ assessment of architectural precast’s value
in commercial construction. Using carbon fiber technology, the award-winning Altus CarbonCast panel sandwiches the insulation between the architectural exterior wythe and a
smooth grey concrete interior wythe to become the only type of architectural precast panel to provide 100 percent composite action for exceptional structural capacity. With all of the forming, mixing, pouring and curing technology in-house, Enterprise relies on Foam-Control® rigid foam insulation as the most effective core for their CarbonCast panels
and generally achieves an R-value of between 4 and 5 for every inch of EPS foam thickness. Read More.
Roofing Contractor
February 2018


In roofing, they say “It rains every night,” which means that no
matter how much gets done on a reroof project, at the end of the
day the entire roof must be completely watertight before the crew
can leave. Shane VonWald leads the commercial roofing division at Signature Roofing, a specialty contractor serving the Boise, Idaho area since 2002. The firm’s roots, like VonWald’s, are in residential roofing. Determined to break into growing local markets in public works and large private projects, Signature Roofing brought VonWald into a new commercial division in 2013.

“Commercial roofs can be quite a bit more complicated than residential projects,” said VonWald. Signature Roofing recently worked with Hutchinson Smith Architects (HSA) to reroof Maple Grove Elementary School for the Boise School District, addressing a set of
challenges along the way. “The Maple Grove Elementary reroof project is a great example of the way designers and builders have to work together to solve roofing challenges in the field,” shared Glenn Robinette, project manager with HSA. “The roof was a borderline failure when we got involved in 2015,”continued Robinette. “There was a lot of ponding and we needed to add a significant amount of slope to get it to drain properly. This can’t be done exclusively on the drafting table. It has to be defined in the field just about as much as on paper.” Creating a consistent, directionally-controlled roof slope to eliminate ponding also requires working around rooftop mechanical units, skylights, and other protrusions using a customizable material. HSA and Signature Roofing turned to ACH Foam Technologies’ Foam-Control® PLUS+® tapered roof insulation. Read More.

Modern Contractor
January 2018


ACH Foam Technologies announces Foam-Control® PLUS+®’s water absorption max volume results of 0.3 percent in laboratory testing proves that molded polystyrene insulation resists moisture absorption as well or better than other rigid foam insulations on the market. Even more important is molded polystyrene’s ability to quickly dry after wetting conditions, which results in R-value retention over the life of the building. This is real-world performance. Foam-Control PLUS+ performs better, is less expensive than extruded foam insulations, is backed by ACH Foam
Technologies’ 50-year R-value warranty, and is available in wide range of thicknesses including very thick panel sizes. Foam-Control PLUS+ is used in many applications: perimeter, under slab, plaza decks, green roofs, commercial roofs, cavity wall, and
EIFS. Exposure to moisture could occur in any of these applications. Read More.


Geosynthetics
October-November 2017


The tram at Hidden Peak is where founder Richard “Dick” Bass envisioned The Summit, a high altitude guest services center and mountain restaurant with limitless views of spectacular surroundings. The vision was to provide non-skiers with panoramic mountain top views in a comfortable, secure space yet is in an environment that faces winds of up to 135 miles an hour and temperatures in the low negatives. 

The Tram’s foundation represented a possible vulnerability. Backfilling with the excavated soil would potentially expose the foundation’s walls to lateral pressures caused by natural soil resettling after construction.  “We didn’t want any additional loading in the form of settlement to be added to the tram’s foundation walls as the result of the new building,” says Tang Yang, Principal with GSBS Architecture.. “We developed a structural barrier between the foundation and the mountain by filling the void with EPS Geofoam blocks from ACH Foam Technologies. EPS Geofoam is a lightweight material with high compressive strengths and predicable performance.” Read More.


Civil + Structural Engineer
September 2017


Ed Bell Construcion was working on a highway rehabilitation project for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in 2010 when Phillippee Falkner, Operations Manager, was presented with a rare opportunity.  “The US 67 bridge over SH 174 outside of Cleburne needed to be rehabilitated and they asked Ed Bell to add it to our scope of work on the adjacent section of highway,” Falkner said. The bridge header was settling because deteriorating embankments at either end were causing the pavement to bunch up where the road connects to the bridge. TxDOT had already attempted to rehabilitate the embankments using traditional soil stabilization methods but moisture issues and settlement continued.

“Since traditional methods hadn’t worked, they asked us to do a side-by-side comparison of two different fill materials, sort of an R&D project,” Falkner said. Working with two different structural fills, Ed Bell’s assignment on the embankments was to plan and complete the work on each side of the bridge. They would also install electronic pressure monitors beneath the restructured embankments so any future settlement could be monitored independently on each side. TxDOT indicated it wanted to compare a kiln-processed lightweight clay aggregate and solid, lightweight geofoam blocks as alternative fills. On the surface, Falkner’s early expectation was that the aggregate materials would behave similarly to soil. Thinking about the geofoam block side, however, he had some concerns. Read More.

Concrete Products
July 2017


Savvy builders know the true value of a building product must consider a combination of the purchase price, the installation cost and the possible long-term operational savings the product provides to the owner during its lifecycle. At Enterprise Precast Concrete of Texas, operations manager, Scott Davis is certain that a high-performance building envelope is one of the wisest investments that can be made on any commercial construction project regardless of client or purpose.

ACH Foam Technologies is currently supplying Enterprise with a steady stream of their Foam-Control 130 product for CarbonCast panels going into a new $1 billion data center for a well-known technology company building out more than 250,000 square feet of new space in Fort Worth, Texas. With operations and production responsibilities, both Arehart and Davis appreciate ACH Foam Technologies’ willingness to organize and develop detailed product numbering systems for each order to Enterprise’s specifications. Read More.


Walls & Ceilings
June 2017


Completed in the spring of 2016, Calacci Construction’s new, 15,800-square-foot office building was configured on two floors, with mechanical systems located in the basement.  Thinking beyond initial costs, Calacci was interested in building strategies that would help him reduce operating expenses during Iowa’s hot summers and cold winters.  The Calacci Construction building maintains a steady 57 or 58 degrees, circulating cooler air in summer and warmer air in winter. Along with the heat pump, the new building also benefits from a high performance thermal envelope, which helps maintain constant temperatures despite external conditions. 

“We wanted a good tight seal on the building; we sourced all the materials from within 50 miles or so; we used recycled concrete and such; but for us it’s more about efficiency than being particularly green,” says John Calacci.  Because the architecture combines a glass curtain wall with punched window masonry, a tight seal required a bit of precision in materials and workmanship. “To meet the new UBC building code, walls have to have a complete thermal break, so we needed a masonry cavity insulation. We chose ACH Foam Technologies for several reasons,” continues Calacci. “Of course, they are local, about 30 miles from here, but their products also come in a wide range of thicknesses, which really helped us fill in around some complex architectural detailing.”  Working with their local White Cap representative, Calacci purchased 19,200 board-feet of Foam-Control PLUS+ 250 scored architectural insulation, which provides a mid 20s R-value. Read More.

Rocky Mountain Construction
June 2017


Snowbird Ski & Summer Report’s acreage is covered by an average of 500 inches of low-density “dry” Utah powder annually and accessed by a collection of 10 chairlifts and one aerial tram. The tram at Hidden Peak is where founder Richard “Dick” Bass envisioned The Summit, a high altitude guest services center and mountain restaurant with limitless views of spectacular surroundings. “The vision was to provide non-skiers with panoramic mountain top views in a comfortable, secure space yet is in an environment that faces winds of up to 135 miles an hour and temperatures in the low negatives. These are not everyday design challenges and that really speaks to what it takes to build on such a site,” states Tang Yang, Principal with GSBS Architecture.


The Tram’s foundation represented a possible vulnerability. Backfilling with the excavated soil would potentially expose the foundation’s walls to lateral pressures caused by natural soil resettling after construction.  “We didn’t want any additional loading in the form of settlement to be added to the tram’s foundation walls as the result of the new building,” says Yang. “We developed a structural barrier between the foundation and the mountain by filling the void with EPS Geofoam blocks from ACH Foam Technologies. EPS Geofoam is a lightweight material with high compressive strengths and predicable performance.” While architects and engineers take comfort in ACH Foam Technologies’ Foam-Control Geofoam’s performance, builders often find it to be particularly well suited to difficult circumstances where a lightweight structural fill is needed.  Read More.

Utah Design & Construction
May 2017


The biggest issue on the Brigham City Bridge project was the natural geological conditions surrounding the site. The scope of work was to widen an existing highway overpass and improve the associated interchanges where I-15 and US 91 intersect to relieve traffic congestion. Offering only a single lane in each direction, traffic was frequently backing up and the interchange was identified as a place where UDOT was not keeping Utah moving. In response, the design team began investigating adding a sister bridge adjacent to the first as a means of increasing the roadway capacity; however, early analysis indicated that might cause more harm than good.


“Initially during design the plan was to put two additional lanes on a second structure adjacent to the first,” says Jeff Gilbert, a Geotechnical Engineer with Terracon in Salt Lake. “However, calculations on both settlement and global stability indicated that the weight of a traditional embankment built with soil for the second bridge would adversely impact the original bridge and we had to look for other options.” Other options included trying to improve the embankments’ foundation soil slope stability using driven piles or other intensive methods. Lead engineering firm, Michael Baker International, suggested using EPS geofoam as an embankment fill to reduce load settlement and decrease the driving force in the stability calculations. Lightweight and versatile, Foam-Control® geofoam is made from expanded polystyrene, a strong closed-cell material known for incredible compressive strength specification and determine how to configure the blocks to best support the weight of the roadway and live traffic loads while also being mindful of the budget. Read More.

Architectural Products
May 2017


Savvy builders know the true value of a building product must consider a combination of the purchase price, the installation cost and the possible long-term operational savings the product provides to the owner during its lifecycle. At Enterprise Precast Concrete of Texas, operations manager, Scott Davis is certain that a high-performance building envelope is one of the wisest investments that can be made on any commercial construction project regardless of client or purpose.

“I’m confident that there is no better value for a wall system than an insulated architectural precast panel,” says Davis, who has been in the construction industry for more than 18 years and now is the operations manager at Enterprise’s Corsicana, Texas office. Davis’ confidence in insulated precast panels is shared by general manager, John Arehart, who has seen the signifi cant evolution of architectural precast panels over a 29-year career.
 
ACH Foam Technologies is currently supplying Enterprise with a steady stream of their Foam-Control 130 product for CarbonCast panels going into a new $1 billion data center for a well-known technology company building out more than 250,000 square feet of new space in Fort Worth, Texas. With operations and production responsibilities, both Arehart and Davis appreciate ACH Foam Technologies’ willingness to organize and develop detailed product numbering systems for each order to Enterprise’s specifications. Read More.

Civil + Structural Engineer
May 2017


For even the most experienced professionals involved in designing, building, and maintaining roads, bridges, and highways there is always something new on the horizon. The biggest issue on the Brigham City Bridge project was the natural geological conditions surrounding the site. The scope of work was to widen an existing highway overpass and improve the associated interchanges where I-15 and U.S. 91 intersect to relieve traffic congestion. Offering only a single lane in each direction, traffic was frequently backing up.

In response, the design team began investigating adding a sister bridge adjacent to the first as a means of increasing roadway capacity; however, early analysis indicated that might cause more harm than good.  The calculations on both settlement and global stability indicated that the weight of a traditional embankment built with soil for the second bridge would adversely impact the original bridge. Lead engineering firm, Michael Baker International, suggested using expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam as an embankment fill to reduce load settlement and decrease the driving force in the stability calculations.

“Using the geofoam blocks to support the bridge embankments was certainly a first for me,” said Betty Purdie, P.E., of Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction, despite a long tenure of tackling similar situations all over Utah. “When we were awarded the contract, I was excited to be working with a new material. Discovering geofoam manufactured by ACH Foam Technologies right here in Utah opens up a lot of new possibilities in the future.” Read More.


Modern Contractor Solutions
February 2017

In retrospect, it sure seems simple, at least to the traveling public. Whether we are driving through a neighborhood or on a highway at speeds in excess of 70 miles an hour, the general public is largely unware of the time, effort, and expense that goes into creating safe, drivable roads. Yet, for the professionals who design and build our roads, the well-known complexities are both inevitable and ever-changing. Experienced designers and builders know each project is a new set of challenges and the solutions can only be found in the variables themselves. 
 
Take the example of a roadway improvement project in Willowbrook, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago where State Highway 83 crosses 63rd Street in a mostly commercial intersection bordered by a golf course on the northeast side. The scope of work was to replace a box culvert crossing beneath 63rd Street that was used to move water runoff from the golf course to a small pond on the south side of the road. With water draining from the golf course to the pond, the soil along the southeast side of 63rd Street had been settling for a long time. The result was a swampy area dividing the road from the pond and stabilizing the roadway base would require new fill material. Anselmo Presisto, P.E., the project manager with Greco Construction, was a bit surprised to see a line item for a product he’d never used before as Greco was putting their bid together. Foam-Control® expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam, was specified as a structural fill to stabilize the area between the pond and the road. Greco Construction hadn’t worked with the geofoam blocks either, despite having been in business for more than 70 years. Read More.
Modern Contractor Solutions
January 2017


With more than 22 years in the field and 11 years with Uline, Copenharve recently oversaw construction of a new 1,000,000-square-foot distribution center at Uline’s Wisconsin headquarters. Completed in January 2016, the facility known as W2 is a state-of-the-art distribution center that Copenharve believes is the best organized of all of Uline’s facilities. Since building on past experience is key to efficiency in so many ways, W2 is largely a duplicate of its predecessor W1, includingmany important design and construction material decisions.

One key decision on such a large, open floor plan facility was thermal insulation to guard against Wisconsin’s dramatic annual temperature swings. With summer temperatures reaching into the 90’s and as low minus 40 in the winter, cost-effectively maintaining Uline’s desired working conditions in such a large building relies on premium quality insulation.  “ACH Foam Technologies is one of our customers and we investigated their rigid foam insulation for durability, firstterm vs long-term costs, and lifetime R-Value,” continues Copenharve. “We wanted materials that could be installed correctly once and not have to revisit the roof for a long time.” Read More.
Los Angeles Times
January 2017


What better place than California to become a zero-waste state? It is the nation’s epicenter of innovation, where creative people think about economic and societal challenges and create unique solutions. As California sets about meeting its stated goal of 75% waste reduction by 2020, we must rise to the challenge by identifying substantive ways to get there and include a comprehensive education program.

Appealing as it might sound in a state that just voted to rid itself of those formerly ubiquitous plastic grocery bags, banning certain single-use food-service containers is not one of these substantive, innovative ways to meet California’s ambitious goal. Some cities would rather use the same path they have trampled before rather than doing the necessary work that would garner real progress, and The Times editorial board, sadly, agrees with them.

But before other cities and even state lawmakers rush to follow The Times’ advice, they should know that not all bans are worthwhile, and many do not result in less waste.

We at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce supported the plastic bag ban. There are reusable options that are accessible and viable and many in the business community supported the ban because it made sense for both industry and environmental groups. However, that is not the case for bans on single-use food-service products. Read More.