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EcoShell™ Version 5.0
Insulsteel builds momentum for high-tech EcoShell Structures
By Teri Errico Griffis
Special to The Post and Courier
After Hurricane Hugo damaged his Isle of Palms home in 1989, David Barron vowed he would never build again on the beach if his home couldn’t be hurricane-proof.
It has taken years to settle on a design and construction firm that could make his limited budget work in such a high cost market, as well as safeguard his respiratory and allergy issues affected by environment, air quality and building materials. But his dream home is now a reality-in-the-making thanks to Insulsteel, a one-stop shop and the leading designer and builder of super environmental and energy efficient residential and commercial structures in the Charleston area.
“My family and I were lucky — our homes didn’t have major structural damage, but every wall, ceiling and floor had to be replaced because of the broken glass,” Barron says. “After witnessing such destruction, I wanted to build a home that is solid on its footing, the glass isn’t likely to give way and the roof will stay on. These are the most important principles to me and, Insulsteel can do it all. It’s the best building technology to do that.”
Insulsteel’s structural Engineer Tim Mays, PHD, PE, leads the design, development and engineering of Insulsteel’s EcoShell building system and states the steel and expanded polystyrene composite homes are built to withstand seismic forces and hurricane winds up to 220 mph — despite code only requiring 150 mph.
“We are in a multi-hazard area where we have to design for wind, seismic and flood. As a structural engineer, I would argue that we are in one of the most challenging design environments in the U.S. The EcoShell is uniquely applicable at the highest level to resisting demands from all three of those challenges.”
Compared with traditional stick-frame homes that are made of plywood, and only as strong as the nails that bind it, the benefits of Insulsteel’s structural composite building envelope are innumerable.
In addition to the state-of-the-art engineering, there are three other unique client benefits that push Insulsteel’s EcoShell homes above the rest: Zero Energy Design that can lower an electric bill for a 3,000-square-foot home on average to $500 to 600 annually, healthier indoor air quality, and a significant decrease in the cost of ownership over 20 years ($15,000 less a year).
“Air quality is so important to me that we’re putting in a whole house ventilation and filtration system that not only cools the air, but purifies it,” says Barron, who has respiratory problems including; allergies, dust and pet dander.
Barron originally designed his 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom Wild Dunes house with an architect, but the initial cost was more than he could afford. “Frankly, I was about to abandon the project. But then I met Steve and Tina Bostic and their EcoShell design team and they were able to provide a house with 20 percent more living space (3700 sq. ft.) at about 20 percent lower cost,” he says.
“I think that the Bostic’s are so competitive with their cost and EcoShell quality that more and more people in Charleston are going to discover Insulsteel and it’s going to change the Lowcountry,” Barron says.
Here in the Lowcountry, most indoor air quality issues come from the attic, crawlspace and the high water tables that create mold and mildew in foundations and elevated spaces. In combination with its air tight EcoShell building enclosure, Insulsteel has worked with the EPA to implement their “Indoor Air Plus™” certification to eliminate exposure to indoor airborne pollutants and contaminants.
“Our InsulAire™ climate controlled foundation system eliminates mold, mildew and other pollutants commonly found in Lowcountry homes.
Insulsteel’s state of the art environmental filtration, and ultraviolet lights kill airborne bacteria throughout the house…including elevated foundations and attic space,” says Steve Bostic. “Our air tight insulated EcoShell prevents moisture and air from leaking through the walls and the attic protecting our clients and their families from polluted outside air.”
Balancing every aspect of a new home design, construction, and cost can be tough, but what Barron appreciated most is that Insulsteel is a “one-stop shop.” Insulsteel is the designer, manufacturer and builder, which makes the work seamless from the client’s point of view.
Insulsteel’s composite high impact panels are all built offsite and delivered ready to assemble. “We use our own EcoShell workforce which saves an incredible amount of time and greatly improves productivity and quality. We almost eliminate all construction waste on site because the EcoShell structural panels comes to the site specifically engineered for each house,” says Bostic.
The national and local award-winning custom design and build firm also focuses on the total cost of ownership. “We look at what it’s going to cost to own this house over 20 years, starting with what our clients initially invest,” Bostic says. Since Insulsteel is the EcoShell manufacturer, and is a OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) building product distributor, it reduces the overall building cost to clients by an average of $50 a square foot, compared with traditional custom builders. “In addition, we provide materials on for the exterior, siding, decking, paint, windows that are guaranteed for 20 years by our manufacturer’s warranty. Our 20-year warranty program reduces the cost of ownership for this home by as much as $300,000.”
Insulsteel is recognized as a national member of the prestigious U.S. Department of Energy’s “Top 1 percent of U.S. Builders.” If you’d like to see an example of the company’s building technology, Insulsteel will be exhibiting the EcoShell at the Charleston Home + Design Home Show this weekend.