2004 through 2006 News

Cut Your Utility Bills, Stretch Your Dollar by James Dulley



Foam/concrete forms offer construction and design flexibility. This article is from the writings of nationally syndicated columnist James Dulley.

Q: I am thinking of building one of those concrete/foam block houses for efficiency, security and strength. Because concrete feels so cold, is it really energy efficient, and will I be limited on house styling?

A: You mentioned “concrete/foam block” houses, but that is just one subset of a construction method called stay-in-place-forms. Another term for this construction method is insulated concrete forms. This type of construction produces one of the strongest and most energy efficient houses possible. Even hurricane-force winds cannot blow one down.

It is true that concrete is not a good insulator and feels cold, but with this method the concrete is totally encapsulated in rigid insulating foam. The foam provides the energy efficiency and the concrete provides the strength. The concrete inside the foam also adds thermal mass to the house. In addition to efficiency, very little outdoor noise penetrates the walls.

People often think of efficiency as strictly insulation level, but air infiltration into and out of a house is also a significant efficiency factor. With interlocking foam blocks or long continuous panels, there will be little air leakage. Also, concrete will not settle over time as lumber homes sometimes do, so these houses remain airtight.

Other than a thick wall, which is only noticeable at window and door openings, these foam/concrete houses look like any other. In fact, with the superior strength of concrete, you will actually have more design flexibility. One company, Lite-Form, also makes a horizontal system to be used for floors. Concrete floors seldom squeak and they block floor-to-floor sounds.

There are several designs of foam/concrete houses you can consider. The finished walls of all are equally strong and efficient. Your builder can recommend which is best for your specific house design. Insulation levels are typically in the R-24 range, but they can be as high as R-40 depending on the thickness of foam you select.  Thicker foam and concrete increase construction costs proportionately.

The design you mentioned uses large hollow foam blocks which are stacked and interlocked together. Openings for windows and doors are cut into the blocks and framed. A special concrete truck, with a pump attachment, pumps concrete into the top and it flows throughout the cavities in the hollow blocks. This forms a solid concrete wall inside of the blocks.

Other designs use foam panels that are separated by plastic or metal webs or ties. You have a selection of foam thicknesses and widths of the webs (determines thickness of concrete). Another option uses much larger foam panels separated by the webs. These also often are used for basement walls and foundation walls on sloping lots.


Benchmark Foam Assists in Sponsoring Watertown’s “Rock of Ages” Veterans Memorial


The vision for the Watertown Veterans Memorial started as a coffee time conversation between Laurel Foss and LeRoy Anderson, Commander of the D.A.V. Chapter #6 back in 2003.

The memorial is located at the Stokes-Thomas City Park in Watertown South Dakota. It will be crafted out of three sections of Black Mist granite, from the Rock of Ages quarries in Barre, Vermont and St. Peters, Pennsylvania. The two outer sections will list approximately 2,000 veterans including their name, branch of service and dates of service. The center portion will feature a listing of the sponsors of the Memorial. Flags will represent the branches of the military and veteran’s organizations.

Benchmark Foam is proud to help the community of Watertown make its vision possible for the Veteran’s Memorial. A tentative dedication date has been set for Flag Day, June 14, 2006.


DENR Recognizes Benchmark Foam Wastewater Treatment System for Operation and Maintenance Excellence


PIERRE- The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announces that Benchmark Foam, Inc. wastewater treatment system is a recipient of the 2005 Industrial Operation and Maintenance Excellence Award. This award is for outstanding wastewater system operation and environmental compliance with its state surface water discharge permit for the past year.

The award was presented during the 2006 South Dakota Water and Wastewater Association Operators Seminar held April 5-6 at the Cedar Shores Resort in Oacoma.

“This wastewater treatment system’s owners and operators have proven they are dedicated to being among the best in the business,” said DENR Secretary Steve Pirner, “and DENR is proud to recognize their efforts with this award.”

Qualifications for the Industrial Operation and Maintenance Excellence Award are based on a system’s compliance with the state’s environmental requirements, discharged water quality, monitoring reports, state inspections, and proper operation and maintenance of the wastewater treatment facility.


Testing Confirms Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is Mold Resistant


The EPS Molders Association (EPSMA), which Benchmark Foam is a member, has completed testing that confirms that EPS foam does not support the growth of mold.

Laboratory testing shows that under ideal conditions, the following fungi did not grow in the foam:

Aspergillus niger
Aspergillus versicolor
Penicillium funiculosum
Chaetomium globosum
Aspergillus flavus

The testing was completed under ASTM C1338 “Standard Method for Determining Fungi Resistance of  Insulation Materials and Facings” and conducted by the SGS U.S. Testing Company.


US Senator John Thune Visits Benchmark Foam



Recently, US Senator John Thune paid a visit to Benchmark Foam to learn about the variety of products that Benchmark manufactures. Senator Thune was given a first hand look at the inner workings of Benchmark and shook hands and posed for pictures with many employees.

While touring the plant, Senator Thune witnessed the foam manufacturing process and learned of the many uses of EPS foam products. One product particularly discussed was the Insulated Concrete Forms and the strength they can provide against hurricanes such as the recent catastrophe in New Orleans.

Benchmark Foam sincerely thanks Senator Thune for his visit.

Pictured L to R: BFI President Tom Devine, Misty Williams, Senator Thune, Holly Novy & Kevin Christopherson.


Benchmark Foam Named as Regional EPS Producer by National Roofing Manufacturers


carlisle_versicoOn January 1, 2006, Benchmark Foam was approved by Carlisle Syntec and Versico Roofing Systems to provide EPS Roofing Insulation for their roofing projects in the upper Midwest. These major single-ply membrane roofing producers have extremely high standards for insulation products used in their warranted roofing systems, including ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) and Federal requirements for density, moisture absorption, compressive strength and R-Value.

By consistently mantaining quality and service standards, Benchmark Foam is proud to be one of a select few molders providing EPS for these warranted low-slope roofing projects.


Benchmark Foam Introduces a Cost-effective Alternative to Cut Stone Shapes


The Specialty Foam and Coating staff has just completed training to become ArcusStone applicators.

ArcusStone is a patented limestone coating, developed in Europe in the 1960s. Originally conceived for the restoration of historic stone structures, today’s ArcusStone is a fully integrated and color coordinated system of natural limestone products.

The versatility of the ArcusStone system combined with Benchmark’s existing cutting and coating capabilities provide a great opportunity to manufacture custom shapes that resemble quarried limestone, sandstone or other types of stone. These shapes are ideal for large scale decorative elements, such as sills, corbels, and moldings, where the weight of solid cast stone is prohibitive.

Please visit the ArcusStone website to find out more about this incredibly versatile coating.


EPS Roof Insulation Solution for ISO Shortage


Benchmark Foam’s EPS Roofing Insulation a Solution to “Polyiso” Crisis.

The plastics industry saw raw material price increases in 2004, due to crude oil prices, and shifting global demand for plastics. Most significant factor was tremendous increases in Asian manufacturing. Global supply and demand dictated the resulting price increases in USA.

This trend of higher prices has affected the EPS industry, but Polyisocyanurate insulations have been the hardest hit. Distributors report price increases of up to 5% per month, and product availability being unsure at best. Early ordering and delivery has taken care of most immediate construction projects committed to using “Iso”, but it’s unclear what happens to price or supply when Construction Season 2005 gets into full swing.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) insulation is suitable for use in almost every type of roof assembly being specified in the Midwest today, including UL Class A, Factory Mutual Class 1, and most manufacturers’ “Full System Warranted” roof systems. Supplies are plentiful, and EPS is priced more competitively than ever. It’s available in flat sheets, and tapered for slope-to-drain on flat roof decks.


Benchmark Foam EPS on NBC Today Show


Benchmark Foam provided EPS foam that was recently featured on the Aug 2nd edition of NBC’s Today Show. Joe Doty, division president of Bakersfield, California based Insulated Concrete Walls Inc. and HomeCrete Homes was interviewed by NBC correspondent George Lewis and described a rising trend in California to build all concrete homes. He described the speed in which the homes are built and other benefits related to the concrete homes such as energy efficiency and the reduction of noise pollution. The insulated concrete forms that  HomeCrete Homes uses features technology developed by Lite-Form Technologies based in South Sioux City, NE.

Benchmark Foam, Inc. is proud to provide the EPS used in these insulated concrete forms and wish Lite-Form and HomeCrete Homes the best with this growing building method.


Benchmark’s Always Improving


As Benchmark Foam strives to meet customer needs we are always improving our operations. We are proud to say that in the coming months our shipping/receiving department is undergoing organizational and physical changes in order to meet or exceed customer requests. In the next few weeks a portion of our lot will be paved in the first of three phases to improve material handling and truck loading capabilities. The first phase should be completed this fall and give Benchmark the ability to improve inventory tracking of standard products and a staging area for special orders. By the spring dirt work should begin for a new addition and construction of a new loading area to be completed in 2005.


2003 IBC Chapter 15 Roofing Systems…Slopes


1507.12.1 Thermoset single ply membrane roofs shall have a design slope of a min. of 1/4″ /ft.

1507.13.1 Thermoplastic single ply membrane roofs shall have a design slope of a min. of 1/4″ /ft.

1510.1 ReRoofing ….shall comply …. Exception. Reroofing shall not be required to meet the design slope requirement of 1/4″/ft in secton 1507 for roofs that provide positive drainage.


Fabrication of Expanded Polypropylene (EPP)


eppfabricationBENCHMARK FOAM INC. fabricates packaging products from EPP. The block size is 6″ x 48″ x 72″ and the standard density is nominal one pound per cubic foot. Other densities are available upon request.

EPP is a superior packaging product for the very heavy, sensitive and fragile products. It can withstand multiple drops with minimal distortion. EPP plank is easy to hot wire into packaging products.

EPP is a closed cell foam, which has high chemical resistance to gasoline and acetones. EPP’s performance is virtually unaffected when exposed to water.


Purchasing R-Value


When you purchase insulation, you are purchasing the materials resistance to the flow of heat. (See the physical properties page for the “R-Value” of Expanded Polystyrene). When comparing insulations, divide the Price by the R-value.

Example: EPS Type I $0.10 per sqft of one inch divided by 4.0 = $0.025 per R value.

Extruded Polystyrene $0.25 per sqft of one inch divided by 5.4 = $.046 per R value.

As you can see, EPS is the better purchase since you pay half the cost for the R-value.

Pricing shown is for illustration only.

Products Made In The USA!

EPS is a lightweight, versatile, economical, recyclable material that can be tailored to meet changing and complex requirements. Select one of the following topics to learn more: