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Ultra-Efficient Building Envelope for YouthBuild Philadelphia


CertainTeed Corporation and West Chester Insulation recently teamed up to create an extra thermal-efficient building envelope for YouthBuild Philadelphia's LEED for Homes®-targeted rehabilitation of 4620 Greene Street, a dilapidated, three-story brick home in Philadelphia. The West Chester, Pa., contractor installed a CertainTeed® Hybrid Insulation System, consisting of CertaSpray™ Closed-Cell Spray Foam Insulation and OPTIMA® Blow-In Insulation, that the manufacturer contributed to the project. 

"We are excited about this project and have enjoyed working with CertainTeed and YouthBuild Philadelphia," says Michael Hobson, owner of West Chester Insulation. "We've used OPTIMA for about 20 years, and over the past five years, we have gotten into installing spray foam and blanket insulation combinations to enhance the thermal efficiency of homes." 

The renovation at 4620 Greene Street is part of a three-year, national partnership between CertainTeed, its parent company Saint-Gobain, and YouthBuild USA in support of the organization's "Green Initiative." The initiative gives YouthBuild students the opportunity to build green, energy-efficient and healthy homes, gain sustainable building skills and industry-recognized credentials, as well as develop environmentally focused leadership skills. 

To achieve the desired thermal resistance at 4620 Greene Street, West Chester Insulation insulated the wall cavities with 2 inches of CertaSpray and about 3.5 inches of OPTIMA. The homes' ceilings will also receive the hybrid insulation treatment, with 2 inches of CertaSpray and at least 8 inches of InsulSafe® SP. 

"With hybrid insulation systems, you get the same air seal that you would with a wall cavity full of spray foam, but at a significantly lower installed cost," Hobson says. "This makes it more cost-effective to achieve higher energy efficiency and lower utility bills for the homeowner, two of the main goals of this project." 

Don Pinkney, director of business development and construction at Philadelphia YouthBuild, is already a believer in the CertainTeed hybrid insulation system after witnessing its thermal resistance firsthand. 

"We did a project last winter to gain experience working with hybrid insulation systems," Pinkney says. "After installing the insulation, that house was so tight, we rarely had to turn the heat on to keep the students warm while we worked. It really increased the thermal efficiency of the home." 

The home at 4620 Greene Street had sat vacant and boarded up for 20 years before YouthBuild Philadelphia acquired it in 2010 and began renovating it with an emphasis on sustainability. In addition to the Hybrid Insulation System, CertainTeed also donated several of its roofing, siding, gypsum board, fence and railing products to the project. Expected to be finished in 2013, the home will be sold to a lower-income, first-time homebuyer. 

"It was very critical for this home to have high thermal resistance, since it is a lot larger than the houses we typically renovate and we really want to keep utility bills down," Pinkney adds. "The CertainTeed hybrid insulation system is certainly an important part of this strategy, and we're grateful to CertainTeed and West Chester Insulation for helping make it possible." 

About YouthBuild
YouthBuild is a youth and community development program that simultaneously addresses core issues facing low-income communities – housing, education, employment, crime prevention, and leadership development. In YouthBuild programs, low-income young people ages 16-24 work full-time for 6 to 24 months toward their GEDs or high school diplomas while learning job skills by building affordable, increasingly green, housing for homeless and low-income people and participating in leadership development activities in their communities. For more information, visit


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