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    November 11, 2008
    Strength without Density: Working with Geotechnical Foam. Green Roof Case Study
    ACH Geofoam was used on the roof of the parking garage at the California Academy of Sciences to provide an inviting landscape for the academy’s main entrance.

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is completing a transformation this coming September. Its innovative design has already gained international recognition as a cultural icon. Under one Living Roof, the new Academy contains a planetarium, aquarium and natural history museum. The Academy expects to be the largest public LEED platinum building in the world (LEED status won’t be determined until fall of 2009).

    In keeping with the Academy’s natural environment, the architects, SWA Group, wanted to plant grass and trees on the top of the underground parking garage, creating an inviting, green entry into the Academy.

    The subcontractor, Jensen Corporation, chose ACH Technologies to supply 3,700 cubic yards of Geofoam. “ACH was chosen because they were willing to make such large quantities of the material to spec at short notice, and came highly recommended because of the quality of their product,” said James Zavala, estimator for Jensen.

    “We had standard 3’ x 8’ blocks originally delivered to the jobsite. We quickly learned that it was easier to cut the blocks to the specified thickness at the factory in order to reduce on-site labor. We gave ACH a call and they immediately began cutting the blocks to our specs prior to shipment. The blocks varied from 6 inches to 4 feet in depth. After a layer of ProPex 4547 geotextile fabric, the foam was covered with 2 feet of soil for planting. For every cubic yard of foam we used, we saved approx. 1.00 - 1.25 tons of weight on the parking garage.”

    Because of the vastness of construction going on around the area (the Academy spans more than 2 1/2 acres for exhibition, educational and office space), some of the area for the parking garage was not prepared for delivery of the huge quantities of Geofoam. “All in all, we had 40 trucks of material that had to be delivered,” said Zavala. “ACH cut the 4x8ft blocks down to perfect 6”, 12”, 24”and 3’ sizes.

    “Because the area had not been fully prepared, we had to stage the deliveries, and ACH offered to stockpile the pieces at their own warehouse for us. We had 40 trucks total, with 2-3 truckfuls being delivered at a time. Given the logistics involved, it was pretty amazing that we were able to stay on schedule. By ACH’s willingness to cut and store the blocks for us, we able to avoid a logistic nightmare,” said Zavala.

    According to ACH Technologies’ Frank Kiesecker, Geofoam is rapidly gaining acceptance with geotechnical engineers. “Although ACH’s Geofoam has been used in geotechnical applications worldwide for more than 30 years, its popularity has begun to grow exponentially only recently,” said Kiesecker. “This is due to its strong and light weight physical properties and in part to the ‘greening’ of the construction industry. Geofoam has properties that fit the green model: It can be recycled, it is impervious to weather, it is produced without CFCs HFCs, HCFCs or formaldehyde - and with very little waste. Any clean post-industrial scrap or recovered product can be ground and turned into new EPS products or thermally processed into a resin to make other products such as garden furniture, coat hangers and disposable cameras.”

    Geofoam Seminars

    ACH Foam Technologies offers a Geofoam Seminar which earns PDH and AIA CEU learning credits. For a schedule of seminar offerings, email or call 800.525.8697.

    Learn technical and environmental aspects of Geofoam use; handling and placement guidelines and case histories of Geofoam installations for:
    • Green roofs
    • Bridge Abutment
    • Foundation Stabilization
    • Erosion Control
    • Floor Elevation
    • Slope Stabilization
    • Utility Protection and more
    ACH Foam Technologies’ quality assurance program is the most comprehensive in the EPS industry. ACH’s EPS meets or exceeds the requirements of ASTM C578, is monitored for quality control and is listed with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Factory Mutual (FM). ACH Foam Technologies’ insulation products have a 20-year thermal warranty.

    About ACH Foam Technologies

    For specifications, technical data and studies go to or call ACH Foam Technologies at 800.525.8697.For over four decades ACH Foam Technologies has been an industry leader in EPS manufacturing, providing products for construction, geotechnical, packaging, and industrial applications. With locations throughout the U.S., ACH is positioned to offer convenient, valuable, and complete solutions for its customers. ACH recycles 100% of its post-industrial EPS and is actively involved in recycling post-consumer EPS as well.