Case Study / Warehouse

A Wise Louisiana Purchase

Two hundred years ago, the United States made a wise purchase when it bought Louisiana from France for $15 million. James Monroe and Robert Livingston kept their cool during heated discussions with Napoleon Bonaparte and walked away with some hot real estate. The bayou state remains hot to this day, in more ways than one.

New Orleans is well known for stifling summer heat and humidity. With an average 70 days a year over 90° and morning humidity of almost 90%, it’s a climate control challenge. So a business that stores and handles perishable goods needs to be well protected from that kind of hot, steamy environment.

That’s why another wise “Louisiana Purchase” took place when New Orleans Cold Storage Co., Ltd. (NOCS) needed to expand its capacity. The company, originally founded to make and supply ice to the rail and ship traffic in the busy port city, remains “dedicated to the economic and flawless movement of time- and temperature-sensitive cargo.”

The NOCS warehousing division decided to transform a 144,000-square-foot metal warehouse building into a cold storage facility. The warehouse needed major alterations to assume its new cold storage function.

According to Hank Bonar, owner of Bonar Engineering, the project’s general contractor, “We had to correct an off-center slope apex in the floor and make it level. We accomplished this by using tapered EPS. This also helped us with the performance and weight issues we were also having to deal with.” Bonar noted that the building sits on a pier, extending 80% over water, making weight a very important consideration.

The product chosen to solve this floor decking challenge was Atlas EPS Tapered EPS. The job specs were sent to the Atlas EPS design team, who designed a tapered layout for the floor renovation. The 1.0 pcf Tapered EPS ranged from a thickness of 1/2” to 15-3/4”, leveling the floor before a layer of concrete was applied.

To start with, a huge piece of foam, 32” thick x 48” wide x 24’ long was shaped into tapered wedges, forming a huge puzzle in pieces. The pieces were labeled before shipment so the customer could easily put them together in the proper layout.

Charles Shenton, Atlas Specialty Products Manager, explained that “the application of EPS gave the building the needed insulation efficiency that a cold storage facility requires.”

The floor required 26 truckloads of 1.0 pcf tapered EPS for this massive project. But the floor wasn’t the only area of the building needing energy-efficient insulation.

Shenton explained that Atlas EPS was also able to supply insulation for the building’s roofing renovation. “The roof for this 144,000-square-foot building required two layers of 3.4” ACFoam-II polyiso roof insulation.”

Forrest Mitchell, owner of Insulated Structures Incorporated of Orlando, Florida, the roofing contractor, explained that his company also provided a .045 Reinforced TPO white mechanically fastened membrane system with heat-welded seams. “There was a main freezer building where we put the two layers of 3.4″ polyiso,” Mitchell said. “We also worked on the machine room and loading dock where we put in two layers of 2″ material, and in the offices, where we installed one layer of 2″ insulation. The cold storage job was definitely the largest one we’ve worked on.”

Because of the challenging New Orleans climate, the freezer building’s roof system had to be extremely energy-efficient. The 3.4″ ACFoam-II polyiso used delivers an R-value rating of 21.1 per layer providing superior thermal efficiency. Sensitivity to the environment, a common concern for refrigeration companies, was certainly a factor in choosing the insulation products for this project. Atlas EPS has committed to the manufacture of environmentally friendly insulation products. Neither Atlas EPS foam nor Atlas ACFoam-II contains any harmful CFCs or HCFCs.

The dedication of New Orleans Cold Storage to protect its “time- and temperature-sensitive cargo” was certainly a challenge during the renovation of this simple metal building into a state-of-the-art cold storage facility. From the leveling of the floor deck, with thermally efficient Atlas EPS tapered EPS, to the insulation of the roof system with Atlas ACFoam-II polyiso, this “Louisiana Purchase” clearly represented a wise decision.