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A Peek Behind the Wall

Continuous insulation meets the weather resistive barrier

Atlas Case Study2

Mixed-use complexes (developments that combine office, retail and entertainment spaces together with residential living) continue to be a popular building trend. When these types of properties are conceived as a redevelopment by utilizing an existing footprint, there is additional interest in sustainability. Owners Merlone Geier Partners has accomplished this in their new North Hollywood, Calif., redevelopment, NOHO West, where they are transforming a vacant department store into 903,340 square feet of walkable, livable space designed to blend seamlessly within the surrounding community.

As one might imagine, undertaking a project of this magnitude often includes an array of different types of building materials. While creative use of surfaces such as façades, flooring and roofing are readily apparent, many building product innovations are not as obvious to occupants. Among those are unseen materials like continuous insulation (CI) and weather resistive barriers (WRB), both of which are critical to the highest performing building enclosures.

For NOHO West, Los Angeles-based STIR Architects’ wall system specs called for the CI to be applied over the gypsum sheathing as well directly to steel studs with the WRB membrane adhered over the foil face of the polyisocyanurate continuous wall insulation board. Like many contractors, South Gate, Calif.-based Superior Wall Systems (SWS) typically installs traditional Z-clip systems and had little experience with this type of CI application. SWS sought a CI/WRB system that could perform with multiple types of cladding, including lath and plaster, metal panel, terra cotta, as well as fiber cement panels.

Rod Schrader, SWS’s director of field operations, reached out to Atlanta-based Atlas Roofing Corp.’s district manager Richard Stamsek for a solution. Working with the other stakeholders, Stamsek and Schrader found a solution that would meet all the design and code requirements by utilizing Atlas’s EnergyShield Pro commercial-grade high R-value polyisocyanurate wall insulation. The solution also ensured that NOHO West will meet the pending 2020 California code changes requiring exterior wall systems be integrated with continuous insulation. What’s more, with over 128,000 square feet of continuous insulation and WRB needed, Schrader found that this type of system can serve as both. The additional adhered WRB could be eliminated by using the foil face of the polyiso as the WRB. This decreases material and labor costs and compresses the construction schedule. As an added value, Schrader claims the system uses fewer materials to provide a smaller total carbon footprint for the environment.

In fact, Schrader was so impressed with the offering that he and the general contractor, W.E. O’Neil, Los Angeles, decided to value-engineer the existing WRB membrane and replace it with EnergyShield Pro. When sealed with the approved tape, this WRB serves as the water-resistant barrier and insulation at once, reducing thermal breaks on the exterior wall system and protecting the wall system from moisture damage. In addition to its obvious impact on energy savings, it is approved for use in numerous NFPA 285 wall assemblies, while providing exceptionally high R-value and protection against water and vapor intrusion.

With the current challenges the construction industry is facing, innovative manufactures will continue to develop products important to forward-thinking planners, developers, builders and architects.


Lance Williams is an architectural sales manager for Atlas Roofing Corp., Atlanta. To learn more, visit www.atlasroofing.com.