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    SuperScript is a quarterly newsletter from SUPERSTRUCTURES. Founded in 1981, we are a firm of architects, structural engineers, and conservators dedicated to the art and science of exterior restoration.


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      February 6, 2018

      Up on the Roof – and at the Forefront

      One of the exciting aspects of our work in exterior restoration is the challenge of being at the forefront in the use of new materials and technologies in the preservation of existing structures. In a recent example, SUPERSTRUCTURES was the first firm in New York City to specify Vacuum Insulated Panel (VIP) insulation in a re-roofing project.

      New energy code requirements applicable in NYC stipulate a minimum continuous insulation of R-30 value on the entire roof deck. Using conventional insulation to achieve this value can raise roof heights to a problematic level in relation to adjacent building components such as mechanical equipment, parapets and skylights.

      This was the case at New York University’s Carlyle Court Towers on Union Square. The setback terraces offered a big challenge in terms of achieving the code requirements. The insulation thickness in the existing roofing system was very minimal and the existing doors and through-wall air conditioning units were very low. Use of traditional insulation to achieve an R-30 thermal resistance value would have raised the top of the new roofing system to the level of the wall openings.

      Vacuum insulated panels, which incorporate a vacuum to inhibit transfer of heat, offer a thinner alternative to standard insulation in achieving the R-30 insulation rating. In fact, the VIPs have about one-fifth the thermal conductivity of conventional insulation, and therefore about five times the R-value per unit thickness.

      The two roofing details below illustrate the difference. The upper one was designed for the main roof, where there was no problem accommodating the increased insulation thickness.

      The lower one is the system we specified for the terraces. The insulation in both cases will provide the same level of the thermal resistance.

      Since the VIP insulation cannot be cut without destroying the vacuum, panels of different sizes are manufactured. On the terraces of Carlyle Court we specified panels of three sizes to “fill” the roof areas with insulation, and actually exceed the R-value requirements in doing so.

      VIP insulation in multiple sizes. The porous core material gives shape to the vacuum panel.

      At Carlyle Court Tower terrace: Installation of VIP panels over substrate insulation layer

      Following installation of a cover insulation layer and drainage mat above the Vacuum Insulation Panels, the concrete pavers are installed.

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