Homes for Our Troops a Humbling Example of How American Manufacturing Can Change Lives

HFOT1A few months ago, I had the privilege of traveling to Wilmington, Ohio, to witness Cpl. Josh Sams receive the keys to his new home from Homes for Our Troops, an organization that builds mortgage-free, specially adapted, energy-efficient homes for severely injured veterans. Cpl. Sams was a Marine sniper who stepped on an IED while on patrol in Afghanistan in January of 2012, causing him to lose both of his legs just above the knees and part of his right arm and hand. Thanks to this remarkable organization, he now has a comfortable place to call home and live independently for years to come.

Since its founding in 2004, Homes for Our Troops has built more than 190 homes for qualified recipients. Seeing the opportunity to make a difference in these men’s lives, CertainTeed signed on a number of years ago to donate complete roofing systems for the homes. Last year, our corporate involvement grew to include interior wall systems, as well, including fiberglass batts, high performance wallboard and tile backer. In addition, each home’s attic is now insulated with premium blowing wool.

Perhaps even more important, our involvement with Homes For Our Troops has provided a terrific venue to honor the sacrifices of our veterans and strengthen bonds within our communities throughout the country.

HFOT2As a retired Army Lieutenant, I knew from the start I wanted to be involved with this project. When regional sales manager Mike Singleton asked me if I was able to attend the Saturday morning ceremony in Ohio, I eagerly volunteered to drive three hours to be there to witness the end results of this process. To say it was moving and emotional doesn’t quite do the experience justice.

Josh was an all-state fullback at Wilmington High School, and his high school coach was there to speak at the ceremony along with his best friend and fellow Marine, who also happened to be his quarterback. He stood up in front of Josh’s family and friends and told the story of driving 13 hours through the night with his wife to meet Josh at the front doors of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, D.C., after learning his best friend had been injured. Also at the ceremony were the two Marines who were first on the scene to bind up Josh’s legs and get him on the medevac chopper, who surprised him by making the trip for the event. There in front of his new home, Josh wiped away tears as he thanked everyone for their support. The love, friendship and sense of community was humbling, to say the least.

If I learned anything from the experience, it’s that the role of a U.S. manufacturing company like CertainTeed extends far beyond simply making the stuff that goes into constructing a well-built home. The technologies and expertise we offer have the power to help transform lives. Through projects like Homes for Our Troops, we have an opportunity—and responsibility—to truly impact the lives of our neighbors.

As I witnessed firsthand at this event, “home” is a powerful thing. It is, after all, where the heart is. If I can say we played even a small part in helping Cpl. Sams find his home, someone who has given so much for our country and our freedom, I’d say that’s something to be proud of.

For more information on Homes for Our Troops and CertainTeed’s involvements with the organization, visit www.certainteed.com/followtheproject.

Free net-zero webinar to provide ways to achieve energy efficiency goals in residential construction

Net Zero Demonstration HouseThanks to the pervasive use of sustainable building practices, the average homeowners’ ability to afford green homes and sustainable systems is finally within reach, as the cost of energy-efficient materials and renewable-energy equipment continues to fall. Case in point, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association the average price of an installed solar-power system has declined more than 50 percent since 2010.

Due to this attainable outlook, the U.S. Department of Energy says their ultimate vision is that by 2030, a consumer will have the opportunity to buy a cost-neutral, net-zero energy home (NZEH) anywhere in the United States — a grid-connected home that, over the course of a year, produces as much energy as it uses. However, this also represents a unique challenge for the architects and builders who will be tasked with creating, constructing and evaluating these climate-appropriate zero energy homes.

Enter CertainTeed’s newest free webinar, Net-Zero Energy Home: Design Strategies and System Optimization. The AIA-accredited online course takes place Tuesday, July 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.

houseJoin me as I explore Pennsylvania State University’s award-winning, LEED Platinum, GridSTAR Experience Center project, completed last year on the grounds of the historic Navy Yard in Philadelphia. During the course, I will cover all aspects of this net-zero modular building that was designed and constructed using a unique combination of building materials, construction methods, energy management strategies and renewable energy sources. Learning objectives include:

  • Design strategies for pursuing a net-zero energy home
  • Describe tools used to create, construct and evaluate a climate-appropriate zero energy home before and after construction
  • Understand how to manage and interpret hygrothermal and demand response data for a single family residential home
  • Learn how innovative public/private partnerships are being used to advance building science research

This one drew a big crowd when I first presented it at AIA a few months ago in Atlanta. Register now, right here for Net-Zero Energy Home: Design Strategies and System Optimization.

Free webinar and expert panel to discuss strategies for optimizing workplace acoustics

SoloOfficeHow does noise affect the occupants of the buildings you design? A growing body of research shows that prolonged exposure to noisy office environments can negatively impact productivity and job satisfaction. Daily exposure to common noise levels in offices—50 to 60 decibels on average—can result in lower productivity and more missed work days. Did you know it can take up to 15 minutes for an office worker to regain concentration after being distracted by noise?

Even scarier, studies have linked high levels of office noise to increased stress, fatigue, accidents and illness. And statistics show that when noise hits 65 decibels, the risk of heart attack increases.

These are impactful figures, and they represent an opportunity for architects and designers to positively influence people’s lives during the design phase of an office project. CertainTeed Ceilings will gather an expert panel of leading architects, physicists and engineers in the field for a discussion on these topics during a free AIA-accredited webinar on Wednesday, June 17, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. ET.

During the AIA-accredited course, we will cover the primary acoustic issues in office environments and why acoustics matter, along with strategies for:

  • Designing flexible spaces that maximize sound containment and meet the privacy needs of conducting business
  • Address acoustics in environments in which sound quality is paramount, such as multi-media training spaces and conference rooms
  • Minimize noise intrusion in office spaces near or adjacent to high-noise areas or city traffic
  • Achieve acoustical quality, enhance productivity, and maximize the worker experience in open-concept office environments
  • Remedy sound problems in retrofit applications

CertainTeed’s Building Knowledge Academy of Continuing Education is the industry’s most extensive and engaging collection of CEU course content. Our courses provide AIA credits and help architects specify smarter. Register today.

Tips for Celebrating Memorial Day in Your Own Backyard

CB_SpringLake_house_morning_FlagMemorial Day presents an opportunity to remember those who have served our country. Remembering that service
and sacrifice is often symbolized by hanging a flag from a porch or patio.

It also marks the unofficial beginning of summer. We at CertainTeed love to take advantage of outdoor living
spaces and we want you to get the most out of yours. Usually when a household is expecting guests, the rule of thumb is to start with cleaning. This includes your outdoor living space. Power washing a patio, deck or siding is an effective way to remove dirt and debris – leaving the intended area ready for enjoyment.

And it may just be time to take on that major renovation project you’ve been putting off. Choosing new, fresh siding or trim can give your home a much-needed face-lift. If you’re unsure how a certain style, profile or color may appear, online design tools are available that can assist with the visualization process. While exploring the different options, you might also start dreaming about stretching the budget for a new roof, deck or railing that suits your home’s unique look.

Warmer weather drives the desire to enjoy the outdoors without reservation – so embrace it! Take full advantage of your yard by installing a privacy fence. String lights around your extended living space; gather around a fire pit and you have the perfect additions for entertaining or just kicking back and relaxing.

Living in Trees is No Longer Just For the Birds Thanks to Treehouse Masters

 

TH2When we were children many of us dreamt about or did sleep outside under the stars. If you were really lucky, you might have even had a tent in your yard or better yet, a treehouse. But nothing I ever imagined as a child could have prepared me for what I saw in the backyard of a house in Jim Thorpe, PA.

Home improvement TV has climbed to new heights with Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters series. The program turns treetops into private escapes for people with a passion for reconnecting with nature and their inner child. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. Visionary Pete Nelson and his team of creative carpenters bring a whole new dimension to what we traditionally consider home improvement. They are constructing multi-room dream treehouses that come complete with functional plumbing and electricity.

TH1

We at CertainTeed consider ourselves home improvement experts with many innovative products that create comfort and efficiency and wanted to get in on this creative, unusual, and inspirational endeavor. So, we donated several high-performance building products including premium asphalt roofing shingles and waterproof underlayment, a weather-resistive barrier, and state-of-the-art insulation to Treehouse Masters.

 

TH3Nelson and crew used these top-of-the-line products to construct a home-away-from-home for a family in Pennsylvania. Nelson’s crew built a dream treehouse right in the family’s backyard. It’s a two-level structure that features a bedroom big enough to fit a queen-size bed, living room with a cozy stove fireplace, functional kitchen, bathroom with full plumbing, deck with outdoor grilling area and shower, and more. There’s nothing they did not think of.

For more on the show and to see behind the scenes footage from this build visit www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/treehouse-masters/.

Warning: if you watch it once, you will be hooked.

CISCA Honors Inspired Acoustic Design at Construction Excellence Awards

This week the Ceilings and Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA) recognized construction projects from around the world at its prestigious 2014 Construction Excellence Awards gala in Long Beach, California. I’m proud to say that installations involving our custom ceilings products were among those honored. In fact, this year we won silver and bronze in the acoustical solutions category and silver and bronze in the international category.

Our award-winning projects feature ceiling and wall materials crafted by Decoustics, CertainTeed Ceilings’ custom acoustic product division. These projects brilliantly bridge form with function to create inspired acoustic design. Don’t just take my word for it though, see for yourself. I’m posting a few shots of these award-winning projects because, after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

 

Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus

Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus

The dynamic design of the Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus, Law School and Residence Hall in New York City includes unique curved and shaped Nuvola fiberglass ceiling panels, Quadrillo wood veneered acoustic ceiling and wall panels, and Claro fiberglass panels installed into a Ceilencio suspension system.

 

 

Statoil

Statoil headquarters

 

The spectacular dome ceiling created for Statoil’s headquarters in Stavenger, Norway, features custom curved two-inch fabric wrapped panels and a custom curved aluminum suspension system that masterfully mimic the contour of the vast dome and greatly improve the acoustics within the space.

 

 

 

Bridgepoint

Bridgepoint Health Care

The renovation of Bridgepoint Health Care in Toronto, Ontario, includes customized mini-perforated acoustical natural wood veneer ceiling panels installed in a Ceilencio suspension grid with custom butterfly clips. The wood ceiling panels span the interior and exterior of the building to create the illusion of open spaces while maintaining the heritage of the iconic 150 year-old building, which was originally built as a jail.

 

 

MinnesotaOrchestra

Minnesota Orchestra Hall

 

The beautiful and expansive renovation of the event space within the Minnesota Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota, features custom Solo acoustical wood ceilings and walls that span over 10,500 square feet. The redesign is just spectacular.

 

 

 

We are thrilled to have these CertainTeed Ceilings installations recognized by CISCA this year. Congratulations to all my colleagues and peers who worked so hard on these and other award-winning projects!

Free CEU Course Takes A Systematic View of the Exterior Wall

How can an exterior wall system help stymie chronic heat and moisture-related problems?

Find out by joining me for the upcoming CEU course A Systematic View of the Exterior Wall. This free and interactive session will be offered on Thursday, April 30, from 1 – 2 p.m. ET.

During the hour-long session, you will learn how to develop a plan that enables exterior wall systems Dutchlap_Res Iso_PD_MDWand materials to work together for the overall health of a house. Learn how proper design and installation of framing, sheathing, insulation, airflow retarders, vapor retarders and siding can minimize, if not eliminate, heat and moisture-related problems and be able to ask me questions

At the conclusion you will know:

  • What an exterior wall system is and why it’s important for the house and its occupants
  • The role airflow retarders and vapor diffusion retarders play in controlling the flow of moisture through the exterior wall system
  • How four kinds of insulation can best perform in an exterior wall system
  • How four types of framing materials and two forms of sheathing materials can effect the exterior wall system
  • How window performance is measured and enhanced
  • The importance of caulking, flashing and gaskets to the exterior wall system
  • Advantages and disadvantages of seven kinds of sheathing materials as each relates to the exterior wall system

CertainTeed’s Building Knowledge Academy of Continuing Education, is the industry’s most extensive and engaging collection of CEU course content. Our courses provide AIA credits and help architects specify smarter. Register today.

 

 

Spring is a time of renewal, remodeling

Spring is most certainly in the air. Temperatures are warming, color is popping and the sense of renewal abounds. Those neighbors you haven’t seen since last October are out in their yards again. People are walking, kids are playing, and the sound of hammering fills the air as many folks renew via remodeling. It’s just that time of year.

RestorationSmooth_Landmark

It’s the remodeling part that gets me most excited, Based on a recent study conducted online by Harris Poll and commissioned by CertainTeed, when asked which one factor is most important to homeowners when completing an exterior home improvement project, 39 percent cited curb appeal, 26 percent cited return on investment, and 21 percent noted impact on outdoor living and lifestyle considerations.

The survey also supports what we at CertainTeed have known for some time, that color is every bit as exciting as it is confusing. In fact, 40 percent of U.S. homeowners admit they are not quite sure which colors would work best on the exterior of their homes. 11 percent admit to being color “clueless” and don’t know where to begin when selecting colors for their home. Having spent a lot of time and energy on color science, this is something we get. We’ve actually built an interactive design center so that homeowners can explore, get inspired and gain confidence in their color selection. The online tool allows users to play around with different design and color combinations of siding, roofing, trim and more. It’s a fun tool to check out even if you’re not in the market for remodeling.

Beyond exterior home improvement projects, however, the Harris Poll survey reveals some telling facts about those out-of-sight, out-of-mind renovations that tend to get brushed over. One in five U.S. house owners (19 percent) give little to no consideration to insulation when planning a kitchen remodel or home addition. Even more – one in four – say the same about drywall. This is interesting because, According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we Americans spend 90 percent of our time indoors where thermal comfort and air quality matter quite a bit. The good news is by choosing high-performance insulation and formaldehyde-absorbing drywall, homeowners have more control over energy savings and indoor pollutants like mold and VOCs than they may think. It’s always advisable to work with qualified contractors who can speak to these issues and who stock quality brands and products.

While I’m on the topic of home remodeling, video entries are now being accepted for CertainTeed’s annual Living Spaces Home Makeover Contest.  It may just help you or someone you know undertake that remodeling project that is so desperately needed. The winner gets a $100,000 grand prize, which includes $75,000 worth of building products, including professional installation and $25,000 to help cover taxes. So get the family together, shoot a fun video and enter to win by May 31. For more information and complete contest details, visit www.CertainTeed.com/DesignCenter.

Happy springtime remodeling!

Tax Day Preparedness: Investing in Smart Home Renovations

BathMI_D9_BnB_flatThere’s no doubt that filing taxes can be a daunting challenge, but a refund check from the IRS comes with a lot of exciting possibilities. Pursuing home improvement projects this spring will be a great way to revamp your home after enduring a long, dreary winter. Plus, there are tax credits available that offer financial incentives to make your house energy efficient – giving you even more reason to invest in your home this Tax Day.

According to the ENERGY STAR® program, renovations such as installing quality insulation or adding a solar reflective roof can help save money on utility bills. Pursuing these updates increase the beauty and curb appeal of your home and also enhance its value.

If a reroof is in your future, make sure to choose products that are designed for optimum performance that can withstand the elements. There are various roofing designs, styles and texture options that allow you to create a unique look.

Did you know the material surrounding the exterior and interior of your home can contribute to its efficiency and strength? Insulated vinyl siding provides thermal performance and protection against noise infiltration, and new insulation batt technology can help to manage the moisture found within a home. If that’s not enough, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association says spending $1 on insulation will save $12 in energy costs.

Renovations don’t have to stop at the walls of a residence. In fact, there are many opportunities to develop your home’s outdoor living spaces. New curved railing and gate options offer a decorative design that will accentuate the beauty of a homeowner’s yard while providing complete privacy. By investing in vinyl decking or fence, you can enjoy the warm weather or entertain guests, without having to worry about the hassle of continuous repair.

Last minute filers should keep available tax credits in mind. The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 allows homeowners who upgraded their insulation last year to take a federal tax credit on their 2015 returns. The credit is up to 10 percent of the cost of the insulation with a maximum lifetime credit of $500. For information on other tax credits offered by the IRS, visit www.irs.gov.

 

Q and A at International Builders’ Show (IBS) with CertainTeed Expert Matt Gibson

???????????????????????????????During IBS our Meet the Experts sessions gave show attendees the opportunity to get their questions answered.  Our MC, Ted Brunson pitches the following question to Matt Gibson, Marketing Director, Siding

What New Options are Available with Regard to Creating Beautiful Living Spaces?

With exterior cladding there are endless possibilities with regard to color and texture available today to create a unique look to your home.  For us, it is about Freedom of Choice and aesthetics to create beautiful homes.  We can give you exactly what you want to make your home reflect your style and personality. We have several online tools that will enable homeowners and builders to test colors and styles on the home so that the most informed decisions can be made before ever putting a product on the house.

Colorview is a visualization tool that can take a picture of a specific home and allow homeowners and builders to put siding and roofing styles and colors directly on the house. This enables the homeowner to select the right style and color of siding and roofing that will provide a lifetime of satisfaction and curb appeal. Our ColorCoach and CurbAppeal applications take more generic styles of homes and allow you to  explore colors, styles and textures as well.