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Building Homes, Building Hope with the Advantage ICF System®

September 11, 2014

Award-winning Habitat for Humanity project built with Advantage ICF System® supports sustainability

Owens Sound Habitat 01More than 1 million Canadians are confronted by a choice between paying a utility bill and covering the rent. It is a shocking statistic used by Habitat for Humanity to stress the importance of sustainable housing, and it is a call to action for the organization’s donors and volunteers who join together to build affordable homes. Partnering families contrib-ute 500 hours of sweat equity as their down payments and then enjoy no-interest mortgages.

When Plasti-Fab contributed to a Habitat projects in Owen Sound & Wiarton, Ontario, it was helping to address the challenges in more ways than one.

It seemed like a natural fit for Plasti-Fab. “Habitat for Humanity does great work in terms of what they represent to the community,” says Richard Baumgartner, Plasti-Fab Sales Manager for Ontario and Quebec.

In these ten semi-detached homes, they also save cash each month by enjoying the ongoing energy savings that come with the use of insulating concrete forms (ICF). Each 1,000-square-foot living area is enclosed by six-inch Advantage ICF building block walls and a PlastiSpan Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) insulation that was incorporated into a radiant floor heating system.

Utility bills now average only $46 per month in the middle of winter, and that includes the cost to heat water for the radiant heating system.

In contrast, Ontario’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure says that it can cost $1,210 per year – more than $100 per month — to heat a home of similar size with a natural gas furnace.

These benefits reflect the true meaning of “sustainability,” says Alan MacDon-ald, director of construction at Habitat for Humanity – Grey Bruce. “We look at the sustainability of the family to be able to maintain their home, and that includes operating costs.”

But, the advantages didn’t end there. Many of the members of the Habitat volunteer crew members have never worked on a construction project in their lives. These lightweight forms are much easier to handle than traditional framing materials, and they fit together with ease.

“Putting the blocks together is easy,” MacDonald agrees. “Everybody has fun doing it.” 

It sure made a difference to the homeowners and impressed the judges who bestowed the 2009 Rio Tinto Alcan Sustainable Homes Programme Award, that recognizes the most successful Habitat builds in the country. When awarding  the $60,000 prize, judges cited the use of ICF as “one of the most energy-efficient building strategies available in homebuilding today”.

“It was an incredible shot in the arm,” MacDonald said of the honor, “and a large portion of that submission was based on the ICF.”  

Learn More about the Advantage ICF System® at

Insulspan® SIPS used for an Artist’s Energy Efficient Studio

September 4, 2014

An artist unleashes his creativity to design a three-story addition with Insulspan® SIPs



Artist Brian McKelvey is nationally recognized for his realistic caricatures of college town pubs and cityscapes. When it came time to create a custom art studio on his lakefront property in St. Johns, Michigan, McKelvey dreamt big—designing a three-story studio and library connected to his home with an elevated causeway.

“I wanted to create a space you didn’t want to leave,” he said. “I designed it down to the inch. It’s  been a dream in progress.”

McKelvey selected the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System for the walls and roof of his new 3,262 sq. ft. studio. Finalizing the plans brought McKelvey into a collaborative relationship with Insulspan’s in-house design department.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“I got to visualize the design process really well, and I loved the plans that came to me,” he said. “I needed to see my vision, and Insulspan helped make that a reality.”

Insulspan SIPs also provided McKelvey with superior energy efficiency and comfort due to their solid core of rigid foam insulation. Without the gaps in insulation, thermal bridging, or air leakage common in traditional wood framing, homes built with Insulspan SIPs maintain a more consistent temperature and a comfortable
indoor environment.

“Being high up, I wanted to have the warmest environment,” said McKelvey. “Insulspan SIPs gave us faster construction and a sturdier feel to the structure.”

“In the future I will build again, and I will use Insulspan,” he added.

“It was a pleasure to work with such a creative homeowner and help him realize his vision using the Insulspan SIP System,” said Insulspan Blissfield Sales Manager Aaron Hinde. “Now he has a studio that is comfortable, quiet, and energy efficient.”

Find out more about Insulspan SIPs at

Insulspan® SIPS help turn an 1840s Barn into an Energy Efficient Home

August 25, 2014

Nineteenth Century barn gets new life as the timber frame for an energy-efficient home


For a pair of ambitious Michigan homeowners, the conception of their new, cutting-edge home began not on drafting board, but 80 miles away from their building site with an abandoned 1840s barn outside of Fowlerville, Michigan.  The aging structure was built using a traditional mortise and tenon timber frame that they felt was worth preserving as the skeleton for their new, energy-efficient home.

Crews meticulously disassembled the barn and erected the salvaged 34-foot-tall timber frame at the new building site.  But the antique timbers required additional structural support and a full building enclosure system to complete the home.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA The homeowners chose the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System for the walls and roof of their new 2,500 sq. ft. home.  Prefabricated Insulspan SIPs provided a structural building enclosure and insulation in a single step, saving labor and reducing construction costs.

“Insulspan SIPs were cheaper than the competition and we needed to have structural support for these old timbers,” said the homeowner.

Another major consideration for the homeowners was energy efficiency. With a core of continuous rigid insulation, Insulspan SIPs deliver better effective thermal resistance because they avoid thermal bridging at wood studs. Adding to the efficiency of the SIP building enclosure, the homeowners installed a ground-coupled heat exchanger that draws pre-tempered incoming air through a tube buried in the ground, taking advantage of the consistent temperature of the soil.

“We liked the long term benefits of the Insulspan SIPs,” said the homeowner.  “We expect to have very low heating and cooling costs with the geothermal system and the building envelope.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“It was a privilege to be involved in the construction of a unique home like this,” said Aaron Hinde, Insulspan Blissfield Sales Manager. “The addition of Insulspan SIPs really helped reduce heating costs, making this beautiful home more sustainable and affordable to live in.”

Learn more about Insulspan SIPs at

Follow us on twitter @InsulspanSIPS or @InsulspanSIPSCa

Plasti-Fab’s Polymer Plant receives GE “Proof not Promises” Award

August 21, 2014

ge-awardEnergy and environmental solutions provider GE Power & Water Technologies recently presented Plasti-Fab’s Polymer Plant with the “Proof Not Promises” award.

“Proof Not Promises” is a category of GE’s customer awards that are given to companies based on successfully implementing efficiency improvements; recognizing them for significantly improving industrial operational performance.

The award was presented to Plasti-Fab after Dan Mooney, Chief Steam Engineer of the Polymer Plant spent time working with GE in the reduction of utilizing the “Steamate” condensate corrosion inhibitor for the Moulding Plant Boiler by more than 75%.

With the help of a GE representative, Polymer Plant staff and employees, a chemical addition reduction initiative targeted at steam condensate return piping amine in the Crossfield Block Moulding Plant was completed. Amines are added to the steam systems to coat iron piping and prevent corrosion. Amines are the most expensive component of a boiler water treatment system.

The goal of this initiative was to add controls in order to optimize the addition to the required points which reduces the consumption to the minimum amount required in achieving piping protection.

Not only has the Amine consumption in the system reduced dramatically over the 3 month evaluation period without sacrifice of the piping protection, it also produced annual operational savings in the range to $9,000 to $10,000.

global_sustainability-green-integrationAt Plasti-Fab, we continue to be devoted to the sustainability of our products, practice and production. Our supply chain links are with major corporations that support the Responsible Care® Initiative. At the interface with them, our operating practices are subject to audit by them. Which helps the industry to operate safely, profitably and with care for future generations.

To learn more about Plasti-Fab’s sustainability initiative, visit

Insulspan® SIPS Prove Integral to Award-Winning Energy-Efficient Establishment

August 7, 2014

MEC-North-Van---Insulspan-SIPs[1]August, 2014

A national program of Sustainable Architecture & Building Magazine and the Canada Green Building Council recently awarded eight (8) projects the Canadian Green Building Award for exemplary sustainably-designed buildings in Canada.

The Mountain Equipment Co-op Store in North Vancouver was one such project. Using Insulspan Structural Insulating Panels (SIPs) for the walls and roof, along with other sustainable design considerations, MEC was able to develop a sustainable structure worthy of the prestigious award from the Sustainable Architecture & Building Magazine.

The judges for the award commented about the structure, saying “A beautiful building with impressive performance – as a retail facility that needs to attract and engage customers. The site development and integration with the park is carefully considered. MEC raises the bar every time it develops a new store.”

The Insulspan SIPs made this unique design possible while still providing the thermal envelope and sustainable attributes that continue to be an important element to the MEC organization. Insulspan SIPs provide superior energy efficiency, improved air quality, strength and security, with a commitment to high quality sustainable building solutions.  MEC also chose Insulspan SIPS for a retail store in Ontario and its head office in Vancouver.

Read more about the MEC Project in our Project Profile:[1].pdf

To view the award, visit:



For more than 30 years, Insulspan has led the industry in the development and manufacture of structural insulated panels. Insulspan SIPs have been named the number one green building product by the editors of Sustainable Industries magazine. In the words of the judges, “Not all SIPs are created equal, and Insulspan is the best.” Insulspan continues to pursue innovation in structural insulated panel fabrication and performance.

For more information on Insulspan, visit


PFB Corporation

PFB® manufactures innovative, high-quality insulating building products and technologies that, when used as components of a building envelope, enable residential and commercial structures to be highly energy-efficient. We are experts in geotechnical application of our products. Our core competency is our expertise in expanded polystyrene foams (EPS). We are the only vertically integrated EPS company in North America; which as a consequence, provides us with technical expertise positioning us in a unique leadership position in the EPS industry.

For more information, visit

Plasti-Fab Launches Online Continuing Education for EPS Thermal Insulation

July 10, 2014





Distance learning is a useful and convenient method for professionals to gain knowledge and earn continuing education credits. Considered to be a viable alternative to traditional, classroom style education, online learning is a practical and affordable way for procuring ongoing, state-of-the-art, and up-to-date continuing education. You can download a course 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Since the course then resides in your desktop or laptop computer, you can participate in the learning experience at the convenience of your home, office, or while on the road.

e-learningPlasti-Fab Ltd., a leader in providing EPS Product Solutions, has developed an online training seminar that has been recently published with AEC Daily’s Online Learning Environment providing an overview of EPS insulation, EPS geofoam and ICF/SIP building system solutions produced using sustainable EPS manufacturing processes.  Standing behind education being the key to an industry of successful better building ideas, Plasti-Fab explains expanded polystyrene, its uses and applications as well as the building systems that utilize the EPS technology: ICFs and SIPs. Highlighting energy efficiency and R-values, along with product quality and years of service and expertise, the Plasti-Fab program highlights EPS product information and solutions, with a strong foundation of technical information.

These courses are offered free of charge through a professional courtesy provided by the sponsors on the AEC Daily web site.

Take your continuing education course today or contact Plasti-Fab for more information. | | 1-88-Think EPS

Insulspan® SIPs help homeowners create an energy-efficient and durable Michigan home

July 8, 2014

Powamo, Michigan

powamo houseWhen building a custom two-story Colonial house, a couple  in Powamo, Michigan began their research by examining alternative building systems that would create a higher quality home than traditional wood framing.

“Before we started building I was looking at alternatives like superior building materials,” said the homeowner.  “We wanted to find something that was better than what everyone else has.”

Their search led them the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System.  Insulspan SIPs provide exceptional energy efficiency and durability due to their insulating core that is continuous throughout the prefabricated panels, virtually eliminating heat loss caused by thermal bridging at wood studs, gaps, and air leakage.

“I have the satisfaction of knowing I will never have air gaps or insulation settling,” said the homeowner.  “I like the idea that my home is just built better with better materials.”

Insulspan’s industry-leading ready-to-assembly building system also saves time and labor during the construction process.


Builders install the Insulspan SIP walls for this southern Michigan homeowner.

Builders install the Insulspan SIP walls for this southern Michigan homeowner.

“The builder was familiar with SIPs, had built his own house with SIPs, and was a huge advocate of the Insulspan System,” said the homeowner.  “The builder nudged me along and removed a lot of his labor costs to not do stick framing.”

“We really like working with builders who understand the value behind the product and how it works,” said Aaron Hinde, Insulspan Blissfield Sales Manager.  “Our Ready-To-Assemble package goes a long way, but a builder who really stands behind the technology and building system makes the project a success.”

Learn More about Insulspan SIPs at



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