Insulsteel of South Carolina, a national award winner for designing and building innovative custom homes, has its Charleston area clients covered from A to Z – from the “A” in air quality to the “Z” in Zero Energy Design.
CEO Steve Bostic pointed out that his company can accommodate its clients in another important way: Insulsteel is a “one-stop shop,” providing our unique EcoShell design and building services for clients interested in owning a home that has extreme energy efficiency, superior indoor air quality and has a low total cost of ownership.
“Building our house with Insulsteel has been a blessing,” homeowner Judy Beall commented. “I knew what I wanted for a floor plan, and Insulsteel’s design team put it on paper. Steve and Tina (Bostic’s wife and co-owner of the company) are so knowledgeable in the latest building technology.”
The heart of Insulsteel’s groundbreaking way of building is its EcoShell, which protects the home from outside pollutants, provides 400 percent more insulation value of a traditional, stick-built home and is capable of standing up to hurricane-force winds.
Bostic explained that the foundation, vertical walls and roof of the EcoShell are made of composite panels using from structural steel and expanded polystyrene materials that are designed and molded to precision architectural and engineering standards. Bostic said his company plans to build an EcoShell manufacturing facility in the Charleston area in 2018.
For Insulsteel and its clients, the building process starts with the company’s talented and experienced staff of EcoShell designers, structural engineers, interior designers and custom home construction professionals. Bostic’s team also includes environmental and mechanical system engineering.
When working with a new client the Insulsteel team’s first job is to determine how the client wants to live and the amount of money they want to invest in their home of the future. “We design and build to the client’s budget,” Bostic said “and our focus is concentrated on the clients ‘total cost of ownership’ including utility bills, exterior maintenance and insurance costs.”
A budget is important, of course, but so are other factors that make Insulsteel unique in the business of building homes. Bostic pointed out that the combination of the moisture and humidity that pervades the Low Country, mixed with the wood used in houses built in the traditional manner, creates “a volatile cocktail.” He said mold and mildew are evident from top to bottom in many of these homes.
According to Bostic, the US EPA has determined that unhealthy indoor air quality in homes and buildings is up to 100 times unhealthier than outdoor air and children and senior citizens are the age groups most affected by poor air quality. “Environmental research has determined that when children grow up in buildings with poor air quality, it affects their ability to learn and is linked to health issues such as asthma, ADHD and Autism” he said. “This is a major health problem that is growing at alarming rates.”
Bostic’s EcoShell homes are designed to meet the rigid standards of the EPA’s Indoor airPLUS certification. He noted that the airtight EcoShell, with continuous fresh air ventilation, reduces volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including mold, paint effluents , pet dander and moisture that pollute traditional low country homes.
Fresh air 24 hours a day is a lofty goal for homeowners, but saving money is important as well. Bostic said people who live in Insulsteel homes, and supplement their EcoShell energy efficient building envelope with solar energy systems can significantly reduce energy usage and lower electric bills to as little as $200 – $500 annually.
“The total cost of ownership is really important to our clients. What is it going to cost for the homeowner to live in their new home for the next 10 years?” he asked.
And what good is a house if it can’t stand up to the sometimes violent weather along the Carolina Coast? In September 2015, an EcoShell home built by Insulsteel on Johns Island survived an F2 tornado with no structural damage, while other buildings in the area suffered structural and water damage. According to Bostic, the EcoShell can be built to withstand winds of up to 200 mph. Based upon insurance industry certification programs the EcoShell home can reduce annual homeowner insurance up to 30% saving clients from $1,200 – $2,500 annually.
Insulsteel’s efforts have not gone unnoticed in the U.S. building industry. The company received the top quality custom home awards from the Department of Energy in 2014 and 2016 and was named to the DOE’s “Top 1% of U.S. Builders.” The U.S. Green Building Council named the Bostic’s company as the top U.S. Builder for small firms building LEED Platinum certified homes. Insulsteel also claimed the PRISM Award from the Charleston Home Builders Association as the Most Innovative Housing Project built in 2016.
“The complete process has been both rewarding and instructive,” said Judy Beall’s husband, Jim. “It is so different than convention stick-built homes. We value the input from Steve and Tina, who have brought out ideas that we never could have imagined ourselves.”
Story by Brian Sherman of The Post and Courier