What Compressive Strength Do You Really Need?

EPS:  THE FOUNDATION FOR MOISTURE PROTECTION & INSULATION
 
Many projects design & build for higher load bearing densities then are required, thus costing significantly more time and money than is necessary.  ASTM’s D6817 is the specification for rigid cellular polystyrene geofoam. Designing to this standard not only helps engineers meet technical specifications, but also helps save money and time by using EPS (expanded polystyrene) geofoam, which is listed by the standard, as a structural void fill.  Geofoam has the compressive strength to bear heavy loads like concrete slabs, soil overburden, highway trucks and even airplane traffic and has gained widespread acceptance in load-bearing applications with federal and state entities like DoTs, airports and commercial projects.  
 
Similarly referring to ASTM C578 (Specification for Rigid Cellular Polystyrene Thermal Insulation) while selecting your below-grade insulation products, not only helps you design the right product for the job, but also helps avoids unnecessary costs associated with over engineering. 
 
ASTM C578 publishes compressive strength, deformation and dimensional stability values for both EPS & Extruded Polystyrene – XPS. Insulfoam’s wide range of plain and coated-facer insulation products meet ASTM C578 specifications, providing the same compressive strengths and long-term moisture prevention as competing below-grade insulations. But Insulfoam products come at a lower cost to the building owner, helping deliver significant savings in project costs.
 
FEATURED BELOW GRADE PROJECT: 49er’s Stadium
  • Project:  San Francisco 49er’s New Football Stadium
  • Location:  Santa Clara, CA
  • Product:  Insulfoam GeoFoam 2,500 cubic feet of EPS39 and 25,000 cubic feet of EPS15
  • Application:  Below grade structural void fill to support foundation for the fan seating areas

EPS Geofoam

EPS Geofoam

The contractors (Conoco Company of Concord and Turner & Devcon Construction) chose EPS Geofoam due to it’s extremely low weight and high load-bearing capacity to support the dimensional stability required for concrete topping slabs.  Insulfoam’s multiple manufacturing locations in California and nearby states provided just-in-time deliveries direct to the job site, which was a welcome bonus.

The single largest benefit to concrete contractors when using EPS is the ability of the material to constitute half of the form and the fill simultaneously, which completely eliminates the concept of a two pour operation. Read the full project profile here:  San Francisco 49er’s Find EPS Geofoam Useful In Future Home.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Geofoam is 98% lighter than traditional fill
  • Geofoam does not settle
  • Geofoam eliminates lateral stresses from retaining structures
  • Geofoam can be designed for seismic forces

Reducing Loads for Soft Soil Remediation

Geofoam Installation, Phillis Wheatley Elementary

Geofoam Installation, Phillis Wheatley Elementary

Built in 1954, Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in New Orleans has been closed since Hurricane Katrina flooded the area and was left in a state of disrepair.  The 57 year old school was originally built as a segregated school for African Americans and was decided to be demolished and rebuilt after much opposition, debate and protests.  Demolition was completed in 2011 and the new school is in construction.

InsulFoam Geofoam was chosen as a lightweight fill to raise the main slab from its original elevation and lighten up loads on the subsoils.  Geofoam’s lighweight nature takes up space without adding stress to the underlying soil or structure.  There are many benefits of using InsulFoam Geofoam for reducing loads for soft soil remediation such as:  INCREASES speed of installation and productivity, DECREASES rights-of-way concerns, traffic closures, heavy equipment costs, soil removal costs, borrow-fill placement, ELIMINATES surcharging time/cost, soil settlement, and secondary compaction.

InsulFoam Geofoam is also environmentally friendly and 100% recyclable, containing no HCFCs or formaldehyde. With superior stability and long-term R-value, InsulFoam Geofoam resists insects, mold, decomposition and severe weather conditions, including freeze-thaw cycles and moisture penetration.

CLICK HERE to see Phillis Wheatley Elementary GEOFOAM construction installation photos

Phillis Wheatley Elementary, Geofoam Installation

Geofoam Installation, Phillis Wheatley Elementary

Phillis Wheatley Elementary

Geofoam questions or need to discuss your project?

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Geofoam Specialist

nico.sutmoller@insulfoam.com

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Slope Repair Problem & Solution

PROBLEM:  Infrastructure challenge, road creep slide in Santa Barbara, CA

CAUSE:  Gravity

SOLUTION:   InsulFoam Geofoam, a predictable & long lasting foundation for new pavement

Conejo Road

Conejo Road Geofoam Installation, Santa Barbara, CA

The City of Santa Barbara, CA had been experiencing continual maintenance concerns and costs due to a creep slide on Conejo Road. The project engineers and the city decided to permanently fix the problem by addressing the core cause of slope failure, gravity. During this 2012 project, the delivery of the InsulFoam Geofoam was delayed a few days because the contractor found that the asphalt pavement was up to 18″ thick due to continual settlement and repaving operations over the years.   John Madonna Construction of San Luis Obispo, CA was awarded the prime contract which included installing the EPS Geofoam. This was their 1st project using the ultra-lightweight large block fill material. Steve Alkyer of Insulfoam’s Chino, CA plant came to the jobsite to help train the installation crew on reading the shop drawings and hot wire cutting tools both provided by Insulfoam. This project utilized about 400 cubic yards of InsulFoam GF EPS19 which will provide a very predictable and long lasting foundation for the new pavement section in a difficult access residential neighborhood.

Time lapse video of the complete job install for the Conejo Road slope repair project in Santa Barbara.

 

Geofoam questions or need to discuss your project?

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Geofoam Specialist

nico.sutmoller@insulfoam.com

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Geofoam Offers Performance and Efficiency for Bridge Reconstruction

Modern Contractor Solutions Magazine

Modern Contractor Magazine, April 2009

Originally published in Modern Contractor Magazine, April 2009

Full article (pdf)

Known as one of the Top 10 High-Tech metropolitan areas in the nation (as cited by Newsweek magazine), the city of Omaha, Nebraska, leads the nation by pursuing the most innovative technologies in virtually every field imaginable, not the least of which is road construction.  With more than 100 road construction projects currently under contract, the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) strives to utilize the most effective and efficient construction products in its continuous improvement of the state’s road structures.

That is why, when NDOR officials decided to reconstruct the Pacific Street Bridge, they chose to use expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam for the below-grade void fill portion of the construction project.  By spring of 2008, Pacific Street, which provides commuters with convent access to and from downtown Omaha, was experiencing significant traffic congestion, decreasing the ease and efficiency of local commutes.

The Pacific Street Bridge, which spans Interstate 680, experienced the heaviest congestion, affecting the flow of both local and regional traffic.  It became apparent to NDOR officials that this situation required a remedy that would not only be effective in streamlining the flow of traffic, but could also be completed in a short time frame.

The NDOR decided to widen the bridge by adding one lane, while maintaining the current length of the bridge.  Construction, which was managed by Hawkins Construction Company, a local Omaha-based construction contractor, began in March 2008.

The existing 2:1 slope protection was removed and replaced by abutment walls allowing room for t he needed extra lane

Pacific Street Bridge, Nebraska:  The existing 2:1 slope protection was removed and replaced by abutment walls allowing room for the needed extra lane

In order to build an additional lane without lengthening the bridge, Hawkins had to first construct abutment walls at each end of the bridge.  To avoid creating excessive lateral pressures on the new abutments, a lightweight void fill material was needed for filling in the embankments.  Because of this requirement, the NDOR chose to use geofoam for this portion of the application.

After comparing a number of geofoam manufacturers, Hawkins Construction chose to use geofoam manufactured by Insulfoam, the nation’s largest manufacturer of block-molded expanded polystyrene.

“It was vital that we use a product that would not increase the amount of lateral load placed on the new abutments,” said Omar Qudus, NDOR Geotechnical Engineer.  “We chose to use geofoam because it would do just that, and would enable us to fill the embankments while still being able to build the additional lane.”

As this was the NDOR’s first specification of geofoam, Qudus and his team consulted multiple geofoam manufacturers in order to ensure that the geofoam was used correctly and in a way that would enhance both the performance of the bridge and the efficiency of the construction.

“We talked to a number of geofoam manufacturers,” says Qudus, ”because we wanted to make sure that we were using the geofoam product correctly. Insulfoam provided ample feedback and a detailed specification of how InsulFoam® GF can be used in this type of application.”

The construction project required a total of 2,045 cubic yards of type 15 EPS low-density geofoam blocks that were installed as void fill at the bridge abutments.

After pouring the abutment walls, the Hawkins crew installed the geofoam blocks, which not only provided easy handling, but also sped up the installation process. The use of geofoam eliminated both the need for surcharge and the settlement that is experienced with typical fill products, such as soil.

“We used geofoam for this project because we did not have enough time for both the surcharge and settlement that are typical with the application of traditional fill products,” says Qudus.

NDOR

Pacific Street Bridge, Nebraska

Hawkins’ on-site supervisor, Lance Winkler, agreed that the use of geofoam significantly reduced construction time. “With traditional fill products, we typically backfill with sand at 8-inch increments and then compact; with geofoam, we just placed the blocks in position and then backfilled the minimal area that was left with sand. The InsulFoam® GF made installation easier and more efficient.”

Installation of a drainage mat was also necessary in order to ensure that any water that might collect around the abutment would drain properly and decrease the potential for any damage that might be caused by moisture penetration. By ensuring that water drained away from the abutment, the drainage mat would also eliminate the horizontal pressure that standing water would create.

The entire construction project was completed by September 2008, a short 6 months after it was started, and the bridge was re-opened to traffic. The use of geofoam in this project not only offered enhanced labor and cost savings, but also provided the increased, long-term stability and superior performance needed for the ever-moving technological hub of Omaha, Nebraska.

 Full article (pdf)

 

INSULFOAM GEOFOAM QUESTIONS

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Geofoam Specialist

nico.sutmoller@insulfoam.com

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San Francisco 49er’s Find EPS Geofoam Useful in Future Home

 

EPS Geofoam

EPS Geofoam

Candlestick Park was built in 1960 and has been the home of the San Francisco 49ers NFL team since 1971.  “The Stick” was originally built as a baseball stadium for the then New York Giants baseball team to convince them move to San Francisco.  Due to the wide spread popularity of the “Niners” football franchise, a new stand alone stadium in Santa Clara was approved and a groundbreaking ceremony was held in April of 2012.  The project has a very demanding schedule that requires engineers and contractors to employ many methods to speed the construction phasing due to the fact that the new stadium is scheduled to open for the 2014 NFL season.  View the 49er’s blog where you can see aerial photo gallery of the new stadium.

EPS Geofoam

EPS Geofoam

The open air football stadium employs thousands of stepped/ pre-cast concrete panels that will serve as the foundation for the fan seating areas.  These pre-cast structures are steel reinforced and manufactured off site to reduce the forming cost/time on site and increase the consistency of the “skin on the bones” of the steel structure.  These stair stepped panels were installed in late 2012 after a record breaking steel erection timeframe of the super structure.  As part of the overall seating and viewing area plan, hundreds of flat platforms were included in the design to accommodate ADA ramps, wheelchairs, TV cameras and various other uses.  Engineers with HNTB, one of the world’s foremost firms specified the use of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Geofoam to constitute the structural void fill to support the ramps and platforms.   They chose EPS Geofoam due to its’ extreme low density and high bearing capacity to support the concrete topping slabs.  By using an ultra-lightweight soil replacing fill material, EPS Geofoam significantly reduced dead and lateral loads on the pre-cast panels by adding elevation and slope without a lot of weight.

 
EPS Geofoam

EPS Geofoam

Conco Company of Concord, CA worked as a sub-contractor to Turner and Devcon Construction, the prime contractors to furnish and install the Geofoam as part of their large concrete package.  Conco workers installed 3,500 cubic feet of EPS39 and 25,000 cubic feet of EPS15 for various ramps and platforms throughout the new stadium.  The lightweight fill was provided by Insulfoam of Dixon, CA along with electric hot wire tool kits to allow workers to cleanly and easily fabricate the blocks on the jobsite.  The single largest benefit to concrete contractors when using Geofoam is the ability of the material to constitute half of the form and the fill simultaneously which completely eliminates the concept of a two pour operation.

 

INSULFOAM GEOFOAM QUESTIONS?

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Geofoam Specialist

nico.sutmoller@insulfoam.com

Ask Nico to Connect on LinkedIn  |  Follow Insulfoam on LinkedIn

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How to change an existing sloped elevation in a building

Northwest Hospital Auditorium

Northwest Hospital Auditorium

The University of Washington operates the Northwest Hospital & Medical Center on the north end of Seattle.  Recently a remodel of one of the buildings included a change of use for an existing sloped floor lecture auditorium.  The space was redesigned to serve as a state of the art surgical facility to improve care and offer additional professional services for patients.  Part of the construction process involved changing the existing sloped elevation of a slab on grade floor to create a flat usable space for the new surgical suite.  The project Engineers specified InsulFoam GF EPS15 as a structural void fill to reverse the slope.  One of Insulfoam’s territory sales managers, Dan Michaels worked with the contractor to design a custom factory cut puzzle with shop drawing to minimize field fabrication on the job-site   Due to no access for heavy equipment and a prohibition of mechanical compaction noise required with standard soil fill, EPS Geofoam served as an excellent alternative lightweight structural fill material that provided a strong, stable sub-base for the new concrete floor slab.

Northwest Hospital Auditorium Leveling

Northwest Hospital Auditorium Leveling

Prior to this installation, the project manager with Abbott Construction of Seattle had not yet been involved with an EPS Geofoam project.  They received several furnish and installation bids from various sub-contractors as part of the prime bid package.  Abbott received several F&I bids as high as $23,000 from the sub-contractors.  Once the contract was awarded, the GC was considering a value engineering change order to eliminate the Geofoam due to initial high cost of the bids.  The PM contacted one of Insulfoam’s Geofoam Specialists for consultation and soon learned the EPS material package would cost less than $5,000.  Insulfoam provided the contractor education and installation techniques that demonstrated the low labor costs and the GC decided to self-perform the installation.  The PM was very happy to discover how simple the factory cut pieces went in less than 1 day and appreciated the service and fabrication tools that the Insulfoam representatives provided to ensure a smooth installation.
Northwest Hospital Auditorium Leveling

Northwest Hospital Auditorium Leveling

Northwest Hospital Auditorium Leveling

Northwest Hospital Auditorium Leveling

INSULFOAM GEOFOAM QUESTIONS?

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Geofoam Specialist

nico.sutmoller@insulfoam.com

Ask Nico to Connect on LinkedIn  |  Follow Insulfoam on LinkedIn

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Cold Climate Housing Research Center uses EPS Foam to Save on Costs & Energy

Written by:  David Shong, Insulfoam Architectural & Engineering Technical Specialist

CCHRC Expansion, Alaska

CCHRC Expansion, Alaska

The Cold Climate Housing Research Center, CCHRC, in Fairbanks, AK constructed an addition to their facility in the spring of 2012.  The project Engineers specified 12″ of InsulFoam GF EPS39 which has a minimum compressive resistance of 2,160 psf @ 1% strain as a sub-base and below slab insulation.  EPS39 was placed around the perimeter under the exterior wall footings and within the zones of influence of interior columns that required higher bearing capacity to withstand the axial loads of the walls,roof and snow load.

The rest of the areas that were simply supporting the 6″ floor slab used 12″ of EPS22 (1051 psf @ 1% strain).  They were originally considering only 9″ of EPS46 (2,678 psf @ 1% strain) for the entire building footprint, but were happily surprised to hear the idea of using a lower density under the floor slabs where the decreased dead loads justified a lower EPS density.

They ended up being able to install 12″ of EPS under the entire footprint for less than the original budget which provided more insulation while saving on initial costs as well as long term energy expenditures.

CCHRC Expansion, Alaska

CCHRC Expansion, Alaska

CCHRC Expansion, Alaska

CCHRC Expansion, Alaska

Local Governments use Geofoam to Overcome Common Geotechnical Challenges

US50 near Montrose, CO

Over 100 times lighter than soil, EPS Geofoam continues to prove to be successful in high-volume fill and soil stabilization projects such as roads, bridges, levees and buildings.  Local city and county agencies have used Insulfoam Geofoam in many projects to simplify construction and reduce costs for public works projects.  Geofoam has many features and benefits to help overcome common geotechnical challenges:  high load-bearing capacities, does not decompose, decay, or produce undesirable gases or leachates, fully recyclable, durable and does not require maintenance under normal conditions throughout service life, unaffected by freeze-thaw cycles, moisture, and road salts.

Read more on how the following Geofoam applications were used from project to project in Government Engineering Journal’s article, Geofoam:  A Primer.

Slope Stabilization:

  • US50 near Montrose, CO
  • Highway 12 near White Pass in WA State
  • US101 in Northern CA

Lightweight Void Fill:

  • Fairfeld-Suisun Water Treatment Plant channel walls in Solano County, CA
  • Idaho Transportation Department

Lateral load reduction on Retaining Structures:

  • Pacific Street Bridge Widening in Omaha NE

Soft Soil Remediation:

  • Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement in Seattle, WA
  • I-80/I-65 interchange widening in Gary, IN
  • North Creek Levee raising in Bothell, WA