Lighten Up

Originally posted online at Constructor Magazine, Web Exclusive

USING GEOFOAM TO SIMPLIFY COMMON SITE PREP CHALLENGES

Projects built with geofoam include road beds, bridge approaches, levees and other jobs.

Projects built with geofoam include road beds, bridge approaches, levees and other jobs.

Contractors have successfully used expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam to simplify site preparation since the 1960s. Projects built with the material include road beds, bridge approaches, levees and other civil jobs. Now, geofoam is increasingly solving a host of construction challenges in commercial buildings and large residential applications.

GEOFOAM OVERVIEW
Geofoam is an ultra-lightweight, engineered, closed-cell rigid foam. The material is about 100 times lighter than soil and weighs substantially less than other lightweight fills.

Even though it is very light, geofoam is high strength, with compressive resistance values of 317 to 2,678 lbs/ft2 at a 1 percent strain. Geofoam is suitable for a range of heavy loading conditions, including sub-base for pavements and railroads bearing jet aircraft and locomotives.

EPS geofoam changes the traditional soil compaction phasing method in which contractors mechanically compact soil to a percentage of dry density and pay for multiple samples and laboratory tests. Unlike other lightweight fills such as shredded tires or wood chips, EPS geofoam is homogenous, which provides uniform load transfer and eliminates differential settlement.

GEOFOAM APPLICATIONS AND BENEFITS
The combination of lightweight and high strength makes geofoam the ideal material for many building applications, including:
• Creating level building pads on steep-sloped lots
• Stabilizing steep slopes
• Remediating soft soils
• Forming swimming pools and pool decks
• Landscaping
• Creating theater/stadium seating

Creating level building pads on steep-sloped lots
Given its lightweight, contractors can use geofoam to simplify construction of retaining walls needed to level steep-sloped lots. Geofoam drastically reduces or can eliminate the lateral load on retaining walls, so walls do not need to be as robust. Material and labor costs are much lower due to reducing forming, structural steel and concrete volume, and lessening or eliminating the need for geogrids or mechanical tiebacks.

Eckhart Construction Services, a Carolinas AGC member, used geofoam to create a level building site for a McDonald’s restaurant. There, a retaining wall was needed that could accommodate the change in grade, as well as reduce the load over extremely soft soils. Typical soil fill would have caused unacceptable settlement of the retaining wall. The use of EPS geofoam allowed for incorporation of a traditional keystone retaining wall while eliminating the need to use the typical geogrid material to reinforce the retaining wall.

Stabilizing steep slopes
Geofoam’s lightweight makes it an excellent option for stabilizing steep slopes, without the need to change the final slope geometry. Since the material is much lighter than other fills, it greatly reduces the weight of a slope’s driving block and lowers the risk of costly and dangerous landslides. An additional advantage of using lightweight geofoam blocks on slopes is that crews can move and place them by hand. This eliminates the need for heavy earth moving and compaction equipment on steep and uneven terrain.

Remediating soft soils
Ground with soft soils or soft clay makes building construction notoriously difficult. To eliminate or greatly reduce the need for time-consuming and costly surcharging of soft soils, EPS geofoam provides high load support at a low weight for projects of all sizes.

An example is the renovation of an existing office building into a city hall in the Pacific Northwest. Building codes required installation of new handicap ramps as part of the upgrade. The challenge was the project site is situated on extremely soft glacial till at the south end of a lake. As such, the ramps needed a very lightweight void fill to avoid post-construction settlement. After evaluating various lightweight fill options, the project team chose EPS geofoam. Crews installed 5,000 cubic yards of geofoam, which played a role in helping the project be completed two months ahead of schedule and nearly $600,000 under budget.

Forming swimming pools and pool decks
Contractors use geofoam to simplify construction of swimming pools in residential, commercial and institutional uses, including hotels, schools and community centers. Project teams can order the blocks pre-cut to precise dimensions or can easily cut them to size and shape on site. This simplifies the concrete forming process, and greatly reduces weight for construction of rooftop pools or on sites with poor load-bearing soils. Once crews form the pool basin and decks with geofoam, they can apply shotcrete directly to the foam.

Landscaping
Because crews can readily form geofoam into a host of shapes, the material provides a simple way to create landscape topography and berms. This is particularly beneficial when loads must be minimized on underlying structures and utilities. Examples include rooftop gardens and landscaped spaces with shallow buried utilities that cannot bear the weight of soil fills.

Creating theater/stadium seating
Geofoam provides contractors a fast and simple way to change slopes within buildings – either creating tiered seating as in auditoriums, movie theaters, churches or gymnasiums, or leveling out such a sloped space for other uses.

For stadium style seating, crews hand place row upon row of geofoam blocks to achieve the necessary profile. They can then either place concrete over the geofoam as shotcrete or as pre-cast panels. Using geofoam greatly simplifies the forming process and eliminates the need for complex tiered compacting of soil to form the stepped profile of stadium seating.

Crews can also use geofoam to quickly level an existing sloped elevation in a building. For example, a university wanted to convert a sloped floor lecture auditorium into a surgical suite at a hospital. The project engineers specified EPS geofoam as a structural void fill to reverse the slope. The EPS supplier cut the blocks to minimize field fabrication on the job site. Because the enclosed auditorium did not have space to accommodate heavy equipment, and as noise from mechanical compaction of soil would have disrupted hospital patients and staff, geofoam was an ideal alternative. The lightweight structural fill provides a strong, stable sub-base for the new, level concrete floor slab.

WORKING WITH GEOFOAM

Even though it is very lightweight, geofoam is high-strength and suitable for a range of heavy loading conditions.

Even though it is very lightweight, geofoam is high-strength and suitable for a range of heavy loading conditions.

Although geofoam can be manufactured in many sizes and shapes, standard blocks are typically 4 feet wide by 8 feet long, and of varying thickness. If contractors do not order geofoam precut to specified dimensions, they can easily trim geofoam to size using a hot wire cutter (which some manufacturers will supply) or with a handsaw or a chainsaw onsite.

When placing geofoam, the blocks are staggered so their joints are not located in the same vertical plane. At times, the blocks are interconnected with either barbed plates or polyurethane adhesive, in accordance with engineering specifications.

Due to geofoam’s lightweight, crews can maneuver and place the blocks by hand or with small mechanical equipment. A typical installation is to place geofoam blocks on a level course over sand, pea gravel or any locally available permeable leveling course material.

Following are points to keep in mind when working with geofoam:

• Geofoam is subject to damage when exposed to certain hydrocarbon chemicals or solvents. If needed, crews can protect the material with hydrocarbon-resistant geo-membranes or concrete slabs.

• Manufacturers treat geofoam with a fire retardant to avoid the rapid spread of fire. However, the material is combustible at high temperatures, so it is important to be cautious when conducting hot work, such as welding, around geofoam.

• Exposing geofoam to sunlight for extended periods can cause superficial discoloration, which does not impact the product’s integrity and can be removed with a broom or very light pressure-washing, if desired.

• Because geofoam is lightweight, it is important to take care when stockpiling the material on job sites where windy conditions exist. Contractors should weigh or tie-down stockpiles, as necessary.

CONCLUSION
Soil fills will continue to factor prominently in construction given their ubiquity and familiarity, but for challenging projects, geosynthetics like geofoam are increasingly popular. Geofoam offers contractors a simple-to-use, engineered alternative to traditional earthen fills. The material solves a host of site preparation challenges in commercial and large residential building projects.

INSULFOAM GEOFOAM QUESTIONS:

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Below-Grade & Geofoam Specialist

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Below-Grade & Geofoam Specialist

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Maggie Daley Park to Turn Garage into Rolling Hills- ABC Chicago News

More news coverage on the use of InsulFoam Geofoam in Chicago’s newest and biggest downtown attractions, Maggie Daley Park. When complete, the new park will have a distinctive presence with signature elements like rock-climbing sculptures, an ice-skating ribbon, and play garden.  Read more in the latest and on-going news coverage on details and view the project’s job site camera:

Geofoam Helps Mold the Construction of Chicago’s New Downtown Maggie Daley Park.

-  Foam Blocks Form Hilly Landscape at Maggie Daley Park Site, Chicago Sun-Times

Originally aired and published on  ABC 7 Chicago News, by Paul Meincke

chicago abc_maggie daleyBuilding a park on top of a parking garage is an engineering question whose answer rests with the new Maggie Daley Park on Chicago’s lakefront.

In the shadow of towers made of concrete and steel, there are building blocks of a different sort. Thousands of them are being layered together to give shape to what will be Maggie Daley Park.

“We’re going to transform what was a flat, sort of uninviting area into a gem for Chicago that compliments Millenium Park,” said Chicago Park District CEO Michael Kelly.

That transformation has a lot to do with topography. When this 20-acre park is done, its northeast corner will sit 30 feet higher than the southwest. That’s a lot of dirt. And dirt weighs a lot. And a lot of weight would not be welcome atop the two story parking garage that sits directly underneath. So, what do you use? Geofoam.

“Geofoam is essentially Styrofoam. It’s lightweight fill,” Kelly said

It’s 100 times lighter than soil. Geofoam isn’t a new concept. It was used here before, but there’s a lot more of it now, 75,000 cubic yards of it will be sculpted and tacked down to create a rolling terrain.

On top of the geofoam goes the dirt which will be deep enough in spots to accommodate the roots of one-thousand new trees. If you’d never seen the geofoam going in, you’d never know it was there.

“That’s essentially the best compliment we could get once this park is open and that is that people don’t realize that it’s a park constructed on top of a garage,” said project engineer Nichole Sheehan. “It’s a park that people are going to love and hopefully come to all the time.”

The park district has been recording its birth with time lapse camera, from barren garage roof to the building of baby hills, and when the park’s soft opening comes next fall, this is the vision. Three of the 20 acres devoted to a children’s playground. Just up the path, a 25 foot climbing wall, and when the cold months come, a feed of built in refrigerant will convert that path into a 400 meter ice skating ribbon – attracting old Hans Brinkers or perhaps young Blackhawks.

From debris dating back to the great Chicago fire to geofoam, this piece of Chicago has undergone remarkable change over the years.

In the late 40′s and early 50′s, there were lots of railroad, lots of parking that over the years goes went away or went underground.

“Somewhere way down there, there’s fill,” Kelly said. “There’s probably some old railroad scrap. Now we’re standing on geofoam and we’re building a green park. We’re building a 20 acre green roof is essentially what we’re doing with a thousand trees.”

The first of the trees come soon. The grand opening of Maggie Daley Park comes next Spring. Its birthing thus far carries four words welcomed in urban re-design.

Maggie Daley Park carries a roughly $55 million price tag. Most of that comes from parking garage lease money and private contributions along with five million in park district capital funds.

INSULFOAM GEOFOAM QUESTIONS:

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Below-Grade & Geofoam Specialist

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EPS: Not Just for Insulation Anymore

Moller Field

Moller Field

Moller Field, Geofoam Installation

Moller Field, Geofoam Installation

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) Geofoam has been used as a geotechnical material since the 1960s. EPS Geofoam is approximately 1% the weight of soil and less than 10% the weight of other lightweight fill alternatives. As a lightweight fill, EPS Geofoam reduces the loads imposed on adjacent and underlying soils and structures.

Moller Field, Geofoam Installation

Moller Field, Geofoam Installation

Sitka Alaska has found a solution to an ever present engineering challenge. It’s not just another tool in the tool box, it is the tool… EPS Geofoam. The Geofoam solution has made the reconstruction of Sitka’s Moller Field, the “Field of Dreams”. Dating back to the 50′s, it was considered the premier baseball field of Southeast Alaska. Over its history it became a horrible marsh due to the deep poor soils it was built on. Today it is the only all-turf field in Alaska.

The field’s reconstructionsuccess was due in large part to Geofoam. Geofoams’ use reduced the overall weight of the field and gave rigidity to the otherwise waterbed like third class field that it was. Today it is the field the rest of the state wished it had.

More Geofoam articles and profiles:

INSULFOAM QUESTIONS

Bernie

Bernard Droege, Insulfoam Territory Manager

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Lightweight Geofoam Fill Supports Highway Construction

Originally posted on SitePrep online, March 2014

Working in the soft soils of Trinidad, the contractor specified EPS geofoam to reduce the load applied to the pile cap under the existing pier on this freeway interchange project.

Working in the soft soils of Trinidad, the contractor specified EPS geofoam to reduce the load applied to the pile cap under the existing pier on this freeway interchange project.

Although greenfield site preparation can involve a host of geotechnical challenges, in urban areas the need to work around existing infrastructure presents its own costly and complex design problems.

A new freeway interchange at Valsayn on the Caribbean island of Trinidad provides a clear example of the potential difficulties.  Traffic growth in the island nation required the development of a new grade-separated interchange between two primary highways – the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway (CRH) and the Uriah Butler Highway (UBH).

One challenge the project team faced was that the north and southbound lanes of the UBH needed to pass adjacent to (and on both sides of) a support column for an existing flyover ramp.  The new lanes required pavement of 9.8 to 10.5 ft. of embankment fill on top of the pier’s pile cap on very soft soils.  A concrete shaft of seismic activity.  The concrete shaft also keeps the pier in depended for the the new fill.

Designing infrastructure to mitigate earthquake damage is crucial in Trinidad, which lies near the boundary of two tectonic plates.  The island has been impacted by five earthquakes greater than magnitude 7.0 since the 1700s, including a 7.3 quake in 2007.

To reduce the load applied to the pile cap under the existing pier, and to avoid any modification of the pier’s seismic behavior, contractor Vinci Construction Grands Projects specified InsulFoam GF expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam as a lightweight fill.  Goefoam offers high compressive strength and predictability, yet weighs up to 100 times less than traditional soil fills depending on the EPS density selected.

EPS geofoam fill provided a cost-effective alternative to building a concrete slab founded on piles to support the load from the road and transfer it away from the pier pile cap.

EPS geofoam fill provided a cost-effective alternative to building a concrete slab founded on piles to support the load from the road and transfer it away from the pier pile cap.

Vinci Construction Grands Projets crews placed 2,100 cu. yds. of EPS22 geofoam fill in an 80 by 89 ft. area surrounding the pier in only three-and-a-half days. “Because of the ease and speed of installation, using geofoam allowed us to build this fill two times faster than a regular sand fill, especially in Trinidad where heavy rains can interrupt back filling activities for days,” says Cecile Huillard, construction engineer with Vinci Construction Grands Projets.

Huillard notes the use of EPS geofoam fill provided a cost-effective and simple alternative to building a concrete slab founded on piles to support the load from the road and transfer it away from the pier pile cap. No heavy equipment was needed for the fill placement, as crews were able to install the geofoam blocks by hand. Additionally, the geofoam resulted in lower and smoother post-construction differential settlements of the roadway in both the transversal and longitudinal directions. The use of geofoam also eliminated the need for additional geotechnical investigation for potential additional piles.

Using EPS geofoam as a lightweight fill reduces labor and material costs without the need for over-excavation.

Using EPS geofoam as a lightweight fill reduces labor and material costs without the need for over-excavation.

EPS geofoam does not typically require surcharging, preloading or the staging often necessary with other fills. It resists moisture, freeze-thaw damage, insects, mold and decomposition. The product is inert, does not emit undesirable gases or leachates, and is reusable or recyclable. EPS geofoam is available in multiple strengths suitable for a wide range of engineered applications. The EPS22 geofoam specified in the CRH/UBH interchange project has a compressive resistance of 1,051 psf at 1-percent deformation.

In addition to soft soil remediation and reducing vertical loads on existing infrastructure and utilities, engineers have used EPS geofoam to solve a range of other geotechnical challenges, as outlined in the adjacent article, Applications for Lightweight Geofoam Fill.

Applications for Lightweight Geofoam Fill

Given EPS geofoam’s low weight, strength and ease of use, more project teams are using it to solve regular construction challenges in five basic applications:

1. Eliminate or reduce lateral loads on structures.

2.     Create a zero loading factor for soft soil remediation.

3.     Lighten the driving block of a landslide for slope stabilization.

4.     Reduce lateral and dead loads over existing or newly buried utilities.

5.     Use as lightweight structural void-fill for numerous concrete and landscaping applications.

STRUCTURE LOAD REDUCTION

EPS geofoam significantly reduces lateral loads on retaining walls and building foundations. The material has an extremely low Poisson’s ratio (.05) and high coefficient of friction (.6), which helps enable placement of blocks in a way that replaces the sliding soil wedge above the angle of repose. By replacing the active wedge with EPS geofoam, which can be completely freestanding and self-supporting, project teams can save up to 75 percent of total project costs compared to traditional concrete walls designed to retain soil.

Using EPS geofoam also reduces labor and material costs without the need for over-excavation, and requires much less robust forming, reduced structural steel and concrete wall thickness, and fewer footings. The material can also reduce or eliminate the need for geo-grids and/or mechanical tiebacks. Project teams are able to construct a retaining wall with EPS geofoam paired with a lower-cost fascia (which acts more like a fence).

Another key advantage of using the material in retaining wall applications is the allowance for taller walls in narrower rights-of-way. This reduces time and cost spent on property acquisition, as well as minimizes lane closures and encroachment into wetlands or neighboring properties.

SOFT SOIL REMEDIATION

Ground with soft soils or soft clay makes construction difficult. These soft surfaces are notoriously poor foundations for many projects, and can require extensive remediation.

Instead of choosing costly (surcharging) and time-consuming remediation of soft soils, projects of all sizes can install EPS geofoam, which provides high load-support while maintaining a low weight.

SLOPE STABILIZATION

EPS geofoam’s low weight makes it an excellent option for stabilizing steep slopes, without the need to change the final slope geometry. As the material is much lighter than other fills, it greatly reduces the weight of a slope’s driving block and lowers the risk of costly and dangerous slope failures.

Additionally, since slope stabilization generally happens on steep and uneven terrain, using EPS geofoam simplifies construction, because crews can move and place it without heavy earthmoving and compaction equipment, thus greatly speeding up the construction schedule.

UTILITIES LOAD REDUCTION

Throughout the world, existing buried utilities create challenges for new construction. Notably, utilities frequently are not designed to have additional loads placed upon them. So, utilities either have to be moved or upgraded at high expense.

Instead, geofoam can be an ideal option to reduce dead and lateral loads on underground pipes, culverts and tunnels, while at the same time providing high thermal insulation values that protect against temperature fluctuations.

Another advantage is geofoam can protect utilities during seismic activity by reducing in-situ vertical/lateral stresses.

STRUCTURAL VOID FILL

Given its low weight, EPS geofoam is also well suited as a structural void fill in concrete forming operations. Crews can easily fabricate virtually any shape or slope, and the material eliminates separate concrete pours for vertical wall sections and topping slabs.

Applications include bridge column formwork, stadium seating in auditoriums and sports arenas, stairways, podiums, loading docks and rooftop pool decks. EPS geofoam can be manufactured into custom-cut blocks in various shapes and sizes to enable contractors to quickly build up these and other similar features.

Article featured on SitePrep 

“Because of the ease and speed of installation, using geofoam allowed us to build this fill two times faster than a regular sand fill, especially in Trinidad where heavy rains can interrupt back filling activities for days.”  - Cecile Huillard, Construction Engineer, Vinci Construction Grands Projects

INSULFOAM GEOFOAM QUESTIONS?

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Below-Grade & Geofoam Specialist

nico.sutmoller@insulfoam.com

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Geofoam Saves Time, Money During Three Projects

Originally posted on Better Roads Magazine

I-80 / I-65 Interchange, Gary, Indiana

I-80 / I-65 Interchange, Gary, Indiana

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has promoted the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam as a lightweight embankment soil alternative for a number of years.  In a 2006 report, the agency’s Technical Service Team described the material as a “field-tested, budget-friendly winner.”  Why?  FHWA engineers list the following benefits:

  • Accelerated construction
  • Payroll, transportation and equipment cost savings
  • Reduced labor time for construction
  • Exerts little or no lateral load on retaining structures
  • Easily constructed in limited right-of-way situations
  • Allows application in adverse weather conditions.
Trinidad

Trinidad

The material is approximately 100 times lighter than soil, which save time.  Additionally, a single truck can carry approximately 120 cubic yards of goefoam versus 12 dump truck loads needed for an equivalent volume of earthen fill.  This reduces hauling costs, both in fuel and labor.  Geofoam is easy to install by hand, so it reduces expenses for heavy equipment.

Following is a discussion of tangible benefits derived from geofoam usage in real-world applications such as:

I-80 / I-65 interchange, Gary, Indiana:  FHWA recommended a net-zero load methodology for the roadbed to prevent post-construction settlement.

To reduce the amount of excavation of the high-organic content soils, the contractor, Walsh Construction, used EPS geofoam blocks.  A six-member crew installed 700 cubic yards of geofoam in one week working four- to five-hour days. The geofoam was delivered to the job site on 32 flatbed truckloads, whereas traditional fills would have required more than 400 dump trucks in the highly congested project area leading into and out of metro Chicago.

Highway Interchange, Valsayn, Trinidad:  The project team for an interchange between Trinidad’s Churchill-Roosevelt Highway (CRH) and Uriah Butler Highway (UBH), the island nation’s primary highways, used an EPS geofoam sub-base to solve an engineering challenge and save time in the process.

Highway geometry required placing new lanes adjacent to both sides of an existing fly-over ramp’s support pier. The grade for the lanes required placement of about 10 feet of embankment fill on top of the pier’s pile cap. Engineers determined that traditional fills would have caused unacceptable settlement of the compressive layers located below the fill.

To build the embankment while keeping loads down on the pile cap, Vinci Construction Grands Projets specified EPS geofoam as a lightweight fill, which provided an alternative to building a concrete slab founded on piles to support the load from the road and transfer it away from the pier pile cap. No heavy equipment was needed for the fill placement, as crews were able to install the geofoam blocks by hand.

The geofoam resulted in lower and smoother post-construction differential settlements of the roadway in both the transversal and longitudinal directions. It also eliminated the need for additional geotechnical investigation for potential additional piles. The ability to place the EPS geofoam during the rainy season was crucial to keeping the project on schedule. Crews placed 2,100 cubic yards of EPS geofoam in only 3.5 days.

Lake Cataouatche Pump Station Bridge, New Orleans, Louisiana:  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used EPS geofoam when it needed to build a service bridge over above-ground outlet pipes at the Lake Cataouatche pump station near New Orleans.

The bridge abutments are over extremely soft soil (compressible peat). A traditional soil embankment would have added substantial load to the underlying soils. To minimize loads on the soft soils, the project team used EPS geofoam under the bridge abutments.

Final thoughts

In addition to being lightweight, EPS geofoam has predictable elastic behavior and will not decompose. Further, unlike other lightweight fills such as shredded tires or wood chips, EPS geofoam blocks are homogenous, which provides uniform load transfer and eliminates differential settlement. All of these factors combine to make the material an ideal choice in many road sub-base applications at the federal, state and local levels.

INSULFOAM GEOFOAM QUESTIONS?

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Below-Grade & Geofoam Specialist

nico.sutmoller@insulfoam.com

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Geofoam Helps Mold the Construction of Chicago’s New Downtown Maggie Daley Park

blog-banner_maggie-daley

Maggie Daley Job Site Cam, Dec 7th

Maggie Daley Job Site Cam, Dec 7th

With construction well underway the former Daley Bicentennial Plaza (next to Millennium Park) is on its way to being one of the “greenest” parks in America. The park is atop the large East Monroe Street Parking Garage, which has been restructured extensively including a new membrade above the garage which will also serve as the foundation that the park will sit on top of.

The new park, offers sweeping views of Lake Michigan, and combined with Millenium park “Peanut Park” will offer 45-50 acres of green roof over a downtown city parking garage.
***
So what does Insulfoam’s EPS Geofoam have to do with it? With about 60% of earthworks completes, crews have removed 82,000 cubic yards of existing fill (that existed beneath the soil for decades). Some of this is in fact lightweight fill material like Geofoam, and is still in excellent condition and is able to be recycled for reuse to create “hills” in the park. Geofoam will also support the base below new paths for bikers and walkers to get through to the lake paths.
Maggie Daley Park Rendering

Maggie Daley Park Rendering

The site itself now has the required EPS Geofoam blocks stock piled and ready for installation. In the days to come the installation of the acres of Geofoam will be seen on the bottom right hand side of THIS JOBSITE CAMERA.

Bob O’Neill, president of Grant Park Conservancy, in an article from the Chicago Sun Times called the park “more natural and much more informal” than Daley Bicentennial Park. And very kid-friendly, featuring a three-acre play garden, ice rink, climbing walls, a skating rink in the shape of a ribbon .“You’ll be able to walk up hills and see the lake,” O’Neill said. “When this is done . . . it’s going to be a much more green, sort of organic flow. Whereas Millennium Park is more structural and formal, this is more nature-oriented.”

INSULFOAM GEOFOAM QUESTIONS?

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Below-Grade & Geofoam Specialist

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Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

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?

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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

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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

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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

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Infrastructure Challenges, Geofoam Solutions

Patterson Creek Bridge, Sammamish WA

CHALLENGE:  In a fairly remote area of unincorported King county in Washington State, an existing bridge was only 20 feet long which barely spanned the creek at high floodwater.  The existing bridge was founded on creosote treated wooden piles and needed to be replaced.  The new bridge which is 60 feet long and required new footings and abutment walls; however, over fairly soft soils.  How do you create a structure designed to hold up a bridge AND retain soil?

SOLUTION:  Insulfoam Geofoam was used to reduce differential settlement of the bridge approach fill AND was used to reduce the cost of the wall based on the reduction/elimination of the lateral pressures. You can view construction photos here.
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PROJECT INFORMATION
Project:  Patterson Creek Bridge Approach
Location:  Sammamish WA
Client:  King County DOT
Product Used:  Geofoam, 10-15 truckloads
Click here for Construction Photos