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Adam Joseph Lewis Center At Oberlin College

Dow’s STYROFOAM™ Brand XPS Insulation Contributes To Performance Of Green Project – Including Standing Seam Metal Roofing With Solar Panels

College campuses often serve as incubators for the solutions to some of society’s greatest challenges. At Oberlin College, a small, private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, the monumental challenge of addressing climate change and minimizing a building’s environmental impact is being tackled through an innovative facility that proves buildings can give more than they take from the environment.

The 13,600 sq. ft. Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies - including metal roofing with solar panels on the auditorium section - serves as a tool for Oberlin students to learn how nature works and how humans interact with it. The Center is composed entirely of materials selected for their ability to contribute to a green building – including STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) Insulation. Several years after its completion, the building continues to inspire a generation of architects committed to designing functional yet innovative buildings that combat rising utility costs, economic dependency on foreign oil, climate change, natural resource depletion and landfill issues.

William McDonough + Partners of Charlottesville, Va., an architectural firm specializing in sustainable design, worked closely with Oberlin to establish strict criteria for material selection – demanding products with proven durability and green characteristics, especially energy-efficient performance. The team’s decision in 1998 to use STYROFOAM™ Brand XPS Insulation in the roofs, walls and floors has helped contribute to one of the world’s premier examples of a green-centered building.

Graduating With Honors

Since its completion in 2000, the Adam Joseph Lewis Center has achieved astonishing success. On average, the building generates about 13 percent more energy than it needs to operate.

All of the materials selected for the Center’s construction had to pass a meticulous examination by both the building’s designers and the college before they could be specified.

STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene Insulation, with exceptional water resistance compared to expanded polystyrene, passed the exam with honors.

STYROFOAM™ Brand XPS Insulation also excelled in:

  • Energy savings

  • Fuel conservation

  • Protection against thermal loss, moisture intrusion and air infiltration

  • Reduced emissions

  • Reusability and durability

Walls and Floors Make the Grade

The Adam Joseph Lewis Center design called for STYROFOAM™ Brand CAVITYMATE™ Ultra Insulation to be used in the Center’s wall construction, and with good reason. Due to a patented carbon black technology, the product’s higher insulation value at a lesser thickness – (5.6 per inch) – allowed designers to push the cavity wall out 4" and introduce an air barrier system to reduce air infiltration and exfiltration.

The wall construction consists of 8" and 12" concrete masonry units, an air barrier, STYROFOAM™ Brand CAVITYMATE™ Ultra Insulation mechanically fastened with wall ties on 16" center, a 1" air space and the masonry brick.

Protecting and insulating the Center’s floors is a 2" layer of STYROFOAM™ Brand HIGHLOAD 40 Insulation, providing an R-value of 5 per inch and a compressive strength of 40 psi.

Two Roofs, One Solution

STYROFOAM™ Brand XPS products also fit the bill on the Center’s two roofing systems.

A PMR (protected membrane roof) assembly over the office spaces consists of a rubberized asphalt membrane, 6" of STYROFOAM™ Brand ROOFMATE™ Insulation and stone ballast. In a PMR assembly, a system patented by Dow in 1968, the insulation is placed on top of the roofing membrane, protecting the membrane from light degradation, thermal shock and foot traffic.

A PMR assembly also allows for the reuse of the insulation if the building is expanded vertically or when an original roof is replaced. STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene Insulation can also be reused, allowing the college to save money in new materials and minimize landfill waste.

Above the Center’s auditorium, a standing seam metal roof on a curved metal deck is covered by two layers of 3" thick STYROFOAM™ Brand DECKMATE™ Insulation, a single-ply membrane and curved metal panels with solar panels attached to them.

Design for the Future

Oberlin’s campus is dotted with buildings more than 100 years old. With durability a priority during its construction, the college is confident the Adam Joseph Lewis Center will last at least as long.

The Center includes more than 150 environmental sensors throughout the building and the landscape to monitor and display the flows of energy and cycling of matter. This documented performance helps demonstrate that installing STYROFOAM™ Brand XPS Insulation is one of the best methods available to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And – as is the case with the Adam Joseph Lewis Center – it is an ideal complement to renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics (solar energy).

It’s all part of how the Adam Joseph Lewis Center reinforces Dow’s commitment to addressing climate change. Dow notes that it is proud to have played a role in contributing to this invaluable effort dedicated to discovering how society as a whole can experience a cleaner, greener planet.

For more information on Dow Building Solutions' products, go to click here.

Project Snapshot

Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies: 13,600 sq. ft. New Construction

Owner: Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio

Completed: 2000

Architect: McDonough + Partners, Charlottesville, Va.

Dow Products Used...

Roof: STYROFOAM™ Brand ROOFMATE™ Insulation (incorporated in protected membrane roof above office space) and STYROFOAM™ Brand DECKMATE™ Insulation (covering the standing seam metal roof above the auditorium)

Walls: STYROFOAM™ Brand CAVITYMATE™ Ultra Insulation

Floors: STYROFOAM™ Brand HIGHLOAD 40 Insulation

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