An Unsettling Modular Construction Myth Is Put To Rest

SimplexOPTIMARecently, I had the opportunity to debunk an industry myth that blown-in fiberglass loose-fill insulation is not a viable option for new modular home construction, as it might settle and lose R-value while in transit between the modular home production facility and the jobsite. This was one of the reasons modular home builder Simplex Homes had avoided using blown-in insulation on their projects for years. This year, however, they found themselves working with our OPTIMA® blown-in fiberglass insulation while building a Net Zero Energy demonstration structure at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia as part of Penn State’s GridSTAR Experience Center.

The plan was to build, insulate and roof the shell of the structure, using modular construction techniques, at the Simplex Homes production facility in Scranton, Pa., and ship it by truck to Philadelphia. Having never used OPTIMA in a modular construction application and concerned about the settling rumor, the builder consulted me for assistance in the design and assembly of the high-performance wall assemblies. I designed for them a high-performance 2×8 wood-framed wall assembly, which offered a total insulation R-value of 35.4. A key component of this assembly is a Blow-in-Blanket® System (BIBS) for the wall cavity featuring a 7-1/4-inch-thick layer of OPTIMA insulation.

With on-site assistance from one of our product engineers, the Simplex Homes crew was able to easily build and insulate the wall assemblies. The building’s shell was trucked to The Navy Yard this past spring, where the remainder of the interior finishes were added. An inspection after its arrival confirmed that the insulation had not moved an inch. Simplex Homes was impressed by their first experience installing OPTIMA and is now looking forward to working with the product in future modular construction projects.

The bottom line is that fiberglass loose-fill insulation is naturally inert and therefore will not settle or lose R-Value over the years, as long as it is installed properly at its full designed thickness. Blown-in fiberglass loose-fill insulation is an asset to any modular construction project, offering unwavering superior R-value, fire resistance and acoustic control for the life of a structure.

Now that we’ve put this myth to rest, what topic should we tackle next?

A Powerful Green Building Partnership

Saint-Gobain, CertainTeed and the Youthbuild Philadelphia Charter School took center stage at Greenbuild 2012 to share their experience in preparing young adults for a career in the building industry, while transforming a long vacant structure into a sustainable home. This public-private partnership provides a useful framework that can easily be leveraged by other communities, offering a win, win, win scenario.

First of all, the partnership provides young adults with valuable hands-on training that will prepare them for a career in the construction industry.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a growing demand for construction-related skilled workers, which means these students are especially well positioned for future success.

The CertainTeed building scientists who provided on-site training walked away with new ideas on how to design and install products — which was fueled by the fresh insight the students brought to the project.

From the community’s perspective, the project is helping to expand the availability of affordable, green housing.

Reaching Abroad for Sustainable Solutions

Hello, my name is Eric Nilsson and I am Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation 

ENilsson_Who says “there’s no such thing as a free lunch?”  Well, I am here to tell you that there is—bu you have to be in the Philadelphia area to take advantage of it.

At CertainTeed, we are excited to be members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), having the opportunity to interact with the design community and to sponsor the upcoming, complimentary luncheon at the AIA, Philadelphia Chapter, featuring David M. Adamson, a consultant in sustainable construction from England on September 29, 2009.

Adamson, a Professor of architecture at Cambridge University, has been involved with sustainable design and life-cycle analysis in both his academic work and as a consultant for the British government. His expertise is on the economic value of sustainable design building practices as a matter of public policy. For example, he is a member of a team that advises Cambridge University on the design and construction of new buildings, and making sure they are built according to sustainable design standards. He has also worked as an advisor to the British government doing a similar task, but on a national scale.

CertainTeed president and CEO, Peter Dachowski, invited Adamson, a long-time colleague, to stop in Philadelphia prior to another engagement in the U.S to present “The Shift to Whole-Life Value in Building Procurement Principles: A View from the U.K.” One of the main themes of the talk concerns the change in the underlying cost-benefit analysis that defines how government agencies and other public institutions plan, design and construct buildings.

The policy has shifted from merely reducing costs to providing maximum value for whatever dollars are spent. This is what the shift to whole-life value means: when a whole-life cost-benefit analysis that includes environmental costs is performed, it is seen from a public policy perspective.  A sustainable building is the best value for both the occupants as well as for society at large.

This is a great opportunity for the design community in Greater Philadelphia to learn about the efforts taking place in the U.K. with regard to sustainable design. You can register for the luncheon by phone 610-341-7298 or email