Case Studies


Proving Sustainable Building Can be Affordable

As the largest building materials company in the United States, Oldcastle continuously develops pragmatic solutions to address environmental challenges faced by the construction industry. Oldcastle’s facilities operate sustainably through systematic plant upgrades, improved efficiency, waste reduction, water-use optimization, secondary material and fuel recycling as well as through product and process refinement. Oldcastle is also an innovative partner when it comes to developing solutions and promoting environmentally driven product and process innovation.

Oldcastle’s roots date back to the 1970s when major Irish building material companies Cement Limited and Roadstone Limited merged to form Oldcastle’s parent company, CRH plc. In 1978 Oldcastle was formed as the holding company for CRH plc, and today is North America’s largest manufacturer and distributor of building products and materials with a network of facilities across 50 states and four Canadian provinces. Managing glass curtain walls systems to precast concrete packages, the Oldcastle team has the ability and product breadth to design, engineer, manufacture and supply contractors across the continent with fully integrated products that simplify the construction process.

Oldcastle manufactures and distributes nearly every material used in the industry across all of its product groups. Oldcastle has four separate divisions that work together provide the finest services that address clients’ needs.

Oldcastle Materials Inc. is the leading supplier of aggregates, asphalt, ready-mixed concrete and construction and paving services in the United States. Oldcastle Building Envelope is the leading supplier of architectural glass and aluminum glazing systems, including custom-engineered curtain wall and window wall, architectural windows, storefront systems, doors and skylights. Oldcastle Distribution [d.b.a. Allied] is the leading building products distributor to specialty contractors in residential and commercial construction. Lastly, Oldcastle Building Products is the leading North American manufacturer of concrete masonry, precast, lawn, garden and paving products,as well as a regional leader in clay brick.

Especially in recent years, Oldcastle has developed specific expertise in green building solutions and now offers LEED/green building consulting to help clients achieve their sustainability goals. As a result, the company has played an integral part in constructing some of the country’s most ambitious sustainable buildings.

With Oldcastle’s employee-driven safety culture, the company delivers one of the best safety records in the industry. Oldcastle’s employees work with passion, commitment and focus, all which are backed by a company with the bedrock values of safety, quality and integrity. Due to its highly established reputation, Oldcastle received a commission in November 2010 for the construction of the Forest House, an affordable urban housing development in the metropolitan New York area that represents a new generation of sustainable buildings.

The project was developed by Blue Sea Development Co., a repeat customer of Oldcastle that is also responsible for building the city’s first LEED Silver, LEED Platinum and Energy Star-rated affordable housing units in the state.

A Holistic Approach to Sustainability

The Forest House is now under construction in the South Bronx’s Morrisania neighborhood, which is peppered with aging brick public housing towers. An average of 40 percent of the neighborhood’s population lives below the poverty line and the new 123-unit development will prove that sustainable building practices can produce a healthier living space and still be affordable.

“We worked directly with Les Bluestone[owner and principal of Blue Sea Development Co.], who is always intimately involved with his projects,” explains Robert Pabst, vice president of project management and contracts at Oldcastle Building Products.

Oldcastle’s sales and engineering team developed a layout that was conducive to the design requirements and desired apartment layout set by Blue Sea. The building will pursue both Energy Star and LEEDcertification, and Oldcastle was challenged to assemble a selection of products to account for the building’s many sustainable amenities.

“Our biggest challenge was designing the structure to accommodate the loading for the rooftop greenhouse,” expands Pabst. “Our engineering team designed a system to accommodate all needs and design elements using our various precast components.”

When completed, the rooftop greenhouse will provide 10,000 square feet of hydroponic farming space that capitalizes on the building’s efficiencies. The greenhouse will make use of excess heat generated by the building’s systems while simultaneously providing an extra layer of insulation. Oldcastle also supplied tanks for the building’s water reclamation filtration system. Each tank holds between 30,000 and 40,000 gallons that will store water to be reused in the rooftop greenhouse as well as the development’s ground-floor courtyard.

A Zero-waste Mentality

Additionally, the building’s precast concrete panels contribute greatly to its energy efficiency and eventual LEED certification. Precast concrete can contribute up to 20 points toward LEED certification. In the case of the Forest House, Oldcastle’s panels rack up points for its recycled material content, including slag and fly ash, and for the minimal waste generated in production. Unused concrete can be crushed and converted into filler or gravel and Oldcastle included a thin brick veneer by Glen-Gery to parallel the aesthetics of its neighboring buildings with a fraction of the resources needed.

Furthermore, precast concrete’s light color reduces the heat-island effect and the larger-sized panels provide a better air seal. The building will be so well sealed in fact that its architects expect to cut the U.S. Green Building Council’s standards for maximum air change in half. The building’s indoor air quality has been a major focus for the developers as the neighborhood boasts some of the highest asthma rates in the country. The hermetically sealed building will not only keep residents comfortable, but the building’s energy-efficient filtration system will also remove allergens from the air and circulate through small vents along the sides of the building.

Inside, the Forest House’s 123 units will be outfitted with products that adhere to strict volatile organic compound (VOC) levels and contain no formaldehyde. The building’s imitation wood flooring contains 70-percent recycled vinyl content and recycled nylon carpet tiles will serve in place of wall-to-wall carpeting. Interior walls use vinyl paneling with 53-percent recycled content and doormats are made from recycled tires. Photovoltaic panels will supply electricity for air conditioners in the summer and for the rooftop greenhouse.

When completed the Forest House will be remarkable due to its design’s ability to address health and wellness from beyond material content and energy efficiency. The building was designed with elements from New York City’s Active Design guidelines that address both sustainability and obesity. In the case of the Forest House, Oldcastle’s windows will line the building’s eight-story stairway, providing residents with expansive views of the city and an incentive to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

The project officially broke ground in May 2011, with precast erection beginning in August. The project is scheduled for completion in late 2012, but Pabst and the Oldcastle team hope to see the building topped off before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Seeing the crane set up and pick up that first piece is always a memorable moment for projects of this stature,” reflects Pabst.”It makes you proud to know that all the planning is now in motion to coordinate product shipments and top off in three months.”

When completed, the building will serve as a beacon for developers and communities striving to balance sustainability goals and the need for affordable urban housing. In addition, 25 percent of the building’s 123 units have been reserved for formerly homeless tenants, with an additional 25 percent for New York City Housing Authority tenants. The Forest House’s rooftop greenhouse will help bring fresh produce to approximately 4,500 people and alleviate some of the pressures of the South Bronx’s “food desert” effect.

In the process, Oldcastle proves that it is not only the largest manufacturer and supplier of building materials, but that it is also a trusted resource and strong partner for sustainable building.Employees work every day to comply with environmental legislation, improve environmental stewardship toward industry best practices, promote environmentally driven product and process innovation and demonstrate good neighbor policies in the many communities in which Oldcastle operates.

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Spring 2018



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