SPF Helps Cherokee Band Continue 10k-Year Environmental Tradition

April 1st, 2009

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians comprises approximately 13,400 tribal members in North Carolina whose lives reflect both Cherokee heritage and American cultural diversity.

Recently, tribal leaders decided to build a new $108 million K-12 facility for the Cherokee Central School District. They wanted the massive 471,000-square-foot complex to contain three schools, three gymnasiums, an auditorium, a sports arena, and a cafeteria.

 But there was a catch.

To embody ancient Cherokee and modern-day American values regarding environmental stewardship, tribal leaders needed the entire facility to achieve LEED Silver Certification. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the nationally accepted benchmark for design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.

Architects specified a structural insulated panel system (SIPS) to provide insulation for the roofs and classroom walls. But on this type of project, SIPS couldn’t be used everywhere. It would take a massive dose of NCFI Polyurethanes’ spray polyurethane foam (SPF) in the walls of the gymnasiums, auditorium, sports arena, and cafeteria to bring this facility anywhere near LEED Silver Certification.

Frank Hughes and a hand-picked crew from American Coating and Insulation Systems Inc. took the challenge of helping the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians maintain a 10,000-year tradition of environmental stewardship in the region.

Don’t Get Bogged Down

When Hughes first set foot on the jobsite in January, he could see right away that the seven-month project would require a lot of coordination to keep from getting bogged down — both literally and figuratively!

“I wouldn’t say this was a hard project in terms of spraying foam, but it required tremendous attention to detail and an enormous amount of coordination,” says Hughes. “It’s not the kind of project you could just show up at and expect to work without considerable coordination and planning.”

To make sure they didn’t hold up the entire project — or get held up themselves — Hughes’ SPF professionals would have to work closely with the general contractor, masons, drywall installers, electricians, plumbers, and inspectors. Pressure loomed large to finish the school on time, and the pace was often hectic.

“The way that project ran, it was hard to even get a good look at the foam because they covered it up so fast,” Hughes says.

To achieve flexibility on the project, American Coating and Insulation Systems deployed two four-man crews — including supervisor Anthony Fitzpatrick — to spray four inches of NCFI Polyurethanes’ ThermalStop. They used Graco E-30 and E-20 Reactor proportioners with Fusion guns armed with number two chambers.

“We’re a small company with 15 to 20 full-time field employees, on average,” Hughes says, “but we do a good job. We probably have 150 years total experience between us all. Our crews are pretty independent, so you can just point them in the general direction, and you know they’d get the job done.”

When working from the exterior, the American Coating and Insulation Systems teams applied foam over masonry block walls that had been spray-coated with damp proofing applied by another trade. As soon as the owner’s inspectors gave the nod, exterior siding specialists covered the foam with either a patterned cement stucco system or fiber-cement lap siding.

Insulating interior walls required American Coating and Insulation Systems teams to spray directly to sheet rock between metal studs. Whether working inside or out, Hughes, his crew leaders, and supervisor used daily and weekly strategy meetings to keep the general contractor informed of their plans several days in advance.