EPS Specified to Improve Energy Savings
Badger State Fruit Processing is a family-owned business that provides a unique combination of services and support to Wisconsin’s cranberry industry. Tracing its roots back to the early 1980s, Badger State Fruit Processing has grown to become the largest independent supplier of cranberry products in the United States through four lines of business –growing, processing, warehousing, and transporting cranberries.
Over a series of plant expansions, Badger State Fruit Processing has repeatedly turned to a reliable resource in large-scale facility optimization, molded polystyrene foam insulation from Atlas Molded Products, to help optimize the value of their investment. Used both as a thermal insulator and a structural solution, molded polystyrene plays a vital role in vertical construction that largely remains unseen in the finished facility but hardly goes unnoticed on the energy bill.
Molded polystyrene insulation products are made from closed-cell polystyrene and often are evaluated against extruded polystyrene, or XPS, rigid foam insultations during product selection. Even, when compared against other molded polystyrene insulation products, many customers like Badger State Fruit Processing, find that it is Atlas Molded Products’ commitment to value-building solutions and customer service that sets them apart.
Hands-on in their approach to building a business and growing market share across several revenue lines, unsurprisingly when Badger State Fruit Processing sought to expand their facilities, they elected to take a design-build approach to construction. In 2012, the company completed construction on a new 186,250 square foot cold storage facility that allows harvested fruit to be safely stored onsite for extended periods both for their products and their customers.
Preplanning the process and expectations have been an important part of Badger State Fruit Processing’s growth strategy from the beginning. When it came time to make a substantial investment in the new massive cold storage facility, the owner and operations team’s core considerations included facility performance, environmental impact, and both construction costs and long-term operations costs. While the cost per square foot of both molded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene insulations are typically comparable in the initial purchase price, the long-term impact of one choice over the other is only evident years after construction is long-since complete. While molded polystyrene maintains its originally published R-value for a 50-year lifecycle, the R-value of XPS insultations diminishing over time as the material off-gasses blowing agents.
Building the new cold storage facility to withstand the rigors of Wisconsin’s inhospitable winter weather meant employing superinsulation strategies to encase the entire building envelope in molded polystyrene foam. Insulating the building’s roof, walls, and foundation meant selecting a high R-value insulation that would stand the test of time. Finding a material that could insulate beneath the massive concrete slab and support the cold storage freezer units meant choosing a strong, durable, material that could endure annual freeze-thaw cycles and regular periods of ground wetting. Seeking the best combination of material performance, environmental responsibility, and both near- and long- term cost-effectiveness Badger State Fruit Processing turned to the reliable long-term performance achieved by molded polystyrene manufactured by Atlas Molded Products.
Rigid molded polystyrene foam from Atlas Molded Products provided the right combination of performance as a thermal barrier, compressive strength as a structural solution, and cost-to-benefit effectiveness as a building material.
Made by expanding polystyrene particles, molded polystyrene foam is a rigid, closed-cell plastic that is block molded into commercial building insulation and below-grade geofoam materials. As building insulation, dimensionally stable molded polystyrene rigid foam from Atlas includes a variety of specialized solutions in the Thermal Star family of products including exterior insulation products specifically designed for roofs, walls, and building foundations.
A key differentiator between molded polystyrene foam insulations and those made with XPS foam centers on R-value stability. While XPS materials often boast initially higher R-values, third-party testing proves that over time the effectiveness of XPS materials decreases. Molded polystyrene is manufactured without using Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), while XPS materials use HFCs that slowly dissipate. As they off-gas, HFCs are replaced by air, resulting in a diminished R-value. HFCs are greenhouse gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere with a very high Global Warming Potential.
Another significant difference between molded polystyrene foam and XPS relates to water absorption around a foundation or under a concrete slab where insulations get wet naturally from rain and ground moisture. Laboratory testing proves that in normal conditions that begin with a wetting period followed by a drying period, both XPS and molded polystyrene materials have limited water absorption. Field research reveals that after years of service XPS materials have retained as much as three times the water by volume as molded polystyrene materials in side-by-side conditions. In real-world applications, molded polystyrene retains 94 percent of the material’s original published R-value, while XPS’ R-value can be as low as 52 percent of installed value after 15 years of service.
In addition to R-value performance, compressive strength was also a critical consideration. The chosen insulation needed to be able to support the weight of the cold storage facility’s massive freezer units while achieving the required R-value cost-effectively. Atlas manufacturers molded polystyrene insulation across a variety of compressive strengths ranging from 15 psi to up 60 psi. While only two inches of 40 psi insulation was required to support the weight of the freezers, the R-value targeted required more material. In response, Atlas worked with the client to develop a specific system of layering the molded polystyrene. By combining a two-inch layer of 40 psi insulation with a four-inch layer of 25 psi insulation molded polystyrene helped achieve the target R-value at a cost savings of 13 percent compared to a six-inch layer of 40 psi material.
Beyond the underslab application, the project also called for 1,975,000 board feet of flat roof insulation where R-value considerations are just as important but compressive strength is less significant. Combined with the 576,8000 board of underslab and foundation insulation, the project used more than 2.5 million board feet of material and required a manufacturer that could not only produce such large quantities but warehouse and deliver it in a just in time strategy so limited excess needed to be stored onsite during construction. Going the extra mile to store purchased materials and deliver them to the job site in the quantities and order of installation needed is standard at Atlas, but often impossible at smaller manufacturers.
At Badger State Fruit Processing, molded polystyrene insulation from Atlas Molded Products proved to be a whole building solution capable of delivering a high-performance thermal envelope to a six-sided challenge. The owner and builders found that molded polystyrene’s non-degrading R-value, high compressive strength, environmental benefits, and the ability to get a large material order from a single source were significant advantages in product and manufacturer selection. Atlas’ willingness to help each client consider the details and engineer a purchase order acutely tuned to their needs and expectations is what makes this job and every job special.