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Birdair, Inc. Awarded First TensothermTM Project at Dedmon Center at Radford University

Birdair, Inc. Awarded First TensothermTM Project at Dedmon Center at Radford University

Published: April 30, 2008

Radford University, located in Radford, VA is in the process of recruiting students, redesigning courses, and renovating buildings for the 2008-2009 school year, and Birdair, Inc. has recently been awarded the project to install the roof of the campus’ sports and athletic facility, the Dedmon Center. The project is slated to begin in May 2008 as the majority of students are off-campus for the summer, and will be completed in January 2009, just in time for basketball season.

The current roof, also installed by Birdair, is nicknamed “the bubble” by students and faculty because of the fact that it is an air-supported fabric membrane. The roof was installed in 1981 and had a projected lifespan of twenty years; it has weathered so well that it has outlasted this expectancy by seven years.

The fact that the original roof that Birdair installed has lasted as long as it has is a major reason that Radford University decided to award the project to Birdair a second time around.

“Our current Birdair roof has performed well beyond its expectations and has exceeded its lifespan,” says Roy Saville, Radford University’s director of facilities planning and construction. “We made the decision to go with Birdair again a couple years ago when we foresaw that the roof would need to be replaced soon.”

Unlike the original roof, this new roof will not be an air-supported fabric membrane. Rather, the architectural membrane that will be installed on the Dedmon Center this fall will be a truss-supported, TensothermTM with Nanogel® membrane, a Teflon®-coated PTFE membrane that has highly effective insulative properties and delivers natural translucent light transmission to the interior. Despite being less than two inches thick, the incorporation of highly insulative Nanogel aerogel allows the membrane to maintain an R-12 insulation value. By retaining cool air in warm conditions and warm air in cold, Tensotherm increases thermal efficiency in the structure. In the process, it meets increasingly demanding energy and building codes required throughout North America. Nanogel has an air content of 95 percent, making it the lightest solid material in the world. The Tensotherm with Nanogel membrane is sandwiched in between two layers of PTFE to enhance its durability, water repellence, and fade resistance, without adding significant weight to the structure. 

The insulative properties of Tensotherm with Nanogel are especially important for the Dedmon Center’s interior climate control and temperature regulation. In addition to the roof’s replacement, the facility is undergoing numerous other renovations, including the installation of a new heating, air conditioning, and ventilation system.

Prior to this renovation, the Dedmon Center did not have air conditioning, and Saville feels that Tensotherm with Nanogel is a necessity to regulating temperature and moisture control inside the structure.

“When we first began discussing the need to install a new roof on the Dedmon Center, the technology wasn’t available yet. As soon as we heard about Tensotherm, we knew that it was a product we wanted to use; it became a requirement for us,” he says.

The inclusion of Tensotherm with Nanogel in the plans for the upgrade of this NCAA arena will provide a step change in terms of the interior environment and the efficiency of the entire building.

“We are excited to be collaborating with Birdair to bring Tensotherm to the global markets,” says James Satterwhite, global daylighting business manager for Cabot Corporation, creators of the Nanogel aerogel insulation used in Tensotherm. “Projects like Radford University’s Dedmon Center call for the beauty and durability of a fabric roof form, but also require a higher level of energy efficiency. Options to create the balance between design and practicality were a real technical challenge until the advent of Tensotherm with Nanogel.”

Kevin Mayer, vice president of business development at Birdair, Inc., notes that this is the first Tensotherm with Nanogel project to be constructed by Birdair and feels that the application of Tensotherm with Nanogel is ideal for consideration of other retrofit projects like the Dedmon Center. As Birdair, Inc. has completed work on over 65 stadiums and arenas andis consistently working on more, Mayer looks to see the technology of Tensotherm with Nanogel applied to many future projects in the same market sector.

“The technology is perfect for a stadium environment. In addition to helping maintain the climate of the structure, regardless of the crowd size, Tensotherm with Nanogel maintains a vapor barrier with an exceptional moisture control performance not found in old technology for insulating tensile membrane structures,” he says. “The environment that will be created by a Tensotherm membrane using Nanogel blankets will be incomparable.”

TensothermTM is a patent pending product of Birdair, Inc. 

Download PDF Version: PDF icon 2008-04-30_Dedmon_Center.pdf

About Birdair: Birdair, Inc. is the leading specialty contractor of custom tensile structures throughout the world. In addition to pre-construction services such as design assistance, budgeting, construction methodologies and project scheduling, Birdair provides design-build solutions in all aspects of project design, engineering, installation and maintenance. The company offers a selection of architectural fabric membranes, including PTFE fiberglass, ETFE film, PVC and Tensotherm™. Birdair, based in Buffalo, NY, is a member of the Taiyo Kogyo Group, with operations serving North and South America and other international locations. For more information about Birdair, like us on Facebook, call 1-800-622-2246 or visit www.birdair.com.