When Arkel Constructors had the opportunity to bid on the enhancement of Huntsman Corporation’s Reliability Excellence Center (REC), their team jumped at the chance.

“Over the years, we have completed a number of smaller construction renovation projects for Huntsman, but the Reliability Excellence Center was a larger, very appealing project for us,” says Layne Moreau, project manager for the Baton Rouge-based general contractor firm. “When we were awarded the project, we were tasked with constructing a new ground up building that would serve as a new office building for key Huntsman personnel.”

Located at Huntsman’s world scale polyurethane production site in Geismar, Louisiana, the Reliability Excellence Center is a 22,000-square-foot structural steel building which is home to the company’s maintenance, reliability and operational excellence teams.

“The facility includes 21 private offices, two open office areas for cubicles, seven conference rooms of varying size, and a large break room that was built around an existing, live electrical room which feeds numerous production units in the facility,” adds Moreau. “In essence, its design and features align with the modern way people like to work and interact in today’s workplace environment.”

In addition to creating a truly work-friendly space, Arkel Constructors along with their client Huntsman, considered regional climate and weather conditions in the expansion of the facility. Because Geismar is located near the Gulf of Mexico, it experiences a subtropical climate and humidity in the region that is highly common. Therefore, the roof chosen for the facility is a durable TPO and the entire building exterior was coated in a fluid-applied waterproofing solution.

Additionally, HEATLOK XT High Yield Spray Foam insulation, a closed cell option manufactured by Huntsman Building Solutions, was chosen to dramatically reduce energy consumption demand for heating in winter and cooling in summer.

“HEATLOK XT High Yield Spray Foam enhances thermal resistance and serves as both an air barrier and vapor retarder,” says Simon Baker, global president of Huntsman Building Solutions. “This particular foam was selected for its rigid structure and its ability as a proven water-resistive barrier. It is also a FEMA Class 5 product, meaning it can be cleaned and dried should a flood occur - something that is always a possibility in a climate like this.”

Arkel Constructors engaged Rader’s Insulation, a Lafayette, Louisiana-based spray foam contractor to install the spray foam. “We had worked with Rader’s Insulation previously and they are one of the only SPF contractors we will partner with in industrial settings like this one,” adds Moreau.

“Using this particular spray foam will ensure long-term energy performance and savings, as well as protection against the risks associated with hurricanes and floods,” says Nick Rader, owner of Rader’s Insulation.

HEATLOK XT High Yield Spray Foam is ideal for use in both interior and exterior applications and is NFPA 285 tested and ABAA evaluated. In the REC facility, Rader’s Insulation spray-installed the material into the underside of the roof deck, as well as into walls, applying it to the exterior sheathing between metal studs. 

The spray foam utilized, in addition to all Huntsman Building Solutions spray foam solutions, is manufactured using recycled plastic waste. “Huntsman recycles over 250 million PET single-use plastic water bottles annually as part of its responsible manufacturing practice,” adds Baker. “The process starts with us diverting harmful plastic waste from landfills and oceans and ends with us giving it another life as a powerful energy conserving solution for the building envelope. The spray foam that results reduces both energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for a cleaner and greener world.”

Another benefit to the insulation is its ability to enhance indoor comfort. “When you’re in the space, you can immediately tell the difference between this facility and others insulated with conventional alternatives,” says Moreau. “We walked through the facility at the end of summer, right after it had been insulated, and there was an obvious temperature difference compared to outside. It’s just a better insulation system.” 

Baton Rouge-based Grace Hebert Curtis Architects was the architect for the project.

Commenting on the newly enhanced REC, Mark Dearman, senior operations director and Geismar general manager for Huntsman, said “As the leading MDI manufacturing plant in North America, Geismar enables Huntsman Building Solutions’ production of high-performance spray foam insulation and roofing materials. Not only is it important that the site’s Reliability Excellence Center be optimized for efficiency and resiliency but, in using our own spray foam in the building envelope, we are standing proudly behind its efficacy and long-term value.”