PLATTSBURGH, NY — Over the years, the 166,000-sq-ft main hangar at Plattsburgh Air Force Base here sheltered strategic bombers for the U.S. Air Force, as well as B-47s, B-52s, and KC 135s. When the base was closed in 1995, the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation was created to manage the reuse of the 5,000-acre base and its facilities.

One of the first goals was to transform the main hangar, originally constructed in 1955, into a hangar fit for the 21st century. The renovation was a success and produced a new tenant: Pratt and Whitney Engine Services. One of the key improvements implemented at the facility was the installation of a CertainTeed (Valley Forge, PA) insulation system, which boosted the R-value of the building from R-7 to R-21.

The rectangular hangar is constructed of an engineered structural steel frame clad in metal, measuring 65-ft high from the floor to the underside of the roof deck. To accommodate aircraft, the hangar has 32 doors on its north and south walls, covering 65,000 sq ft. The end walls — comprised of insulated metal panels covered by 3/4-in. corrugated metal siding — have 59,000 sq ft of surface area and had an R-value of 7.5. The doors are similarly constructed and also have single-pane windows along the top quarter.

In 1998, architect Dufresne-Henry, North Fallfield, VT, began work on renovating the hangar by replacing the heating, power, and lighting systems; upgrading the fire protection systems; refurbishing the hangar doors; insulating and painting the interior; rerouting the roof and floor drainage systems; and improving the office spaces and shop areas (contained within blockhouses).

The natural gas-fired infrared heating system specified by the architect is supplemented by circulating hot water systems that serve the renovated blockhouses. The total connected load for these heating systems is nearly 20 million Btuh.

To maximize thermal efficiency, a cost-effective insulation system was sought with improved wall R-value, fire resistance with low smoke generation capability, and ease of application with an attractive interior finish when left exposed. Due to concerns about air infiltration, batt insulation was rejected because it could leave gaps when covering the existing structure. There was also a concern that wind gusts would lift the insulation off the walls and doors when the hangar doors were opened, which had been the facility’s previous experience.

The team selected CertainTeed Commercial Board Insulation, a rigid fiber glass board in 4-3/4-in. thickness and faced with a reinforced all-service jacket. The general contractor, Theodore Stay & Sons, installed the board, sandwiching it between metal studs anchored to the building girt system.

The seams of the insulation are sealed with white adhesive tape on top to maintain optimum vapor resistance. Next, a layer of galvanized chicken wire was overlaid to anchor it to the building girt system. This resulted in an R-value of 21, a substantial improvement over the original structure.

In addition to providing better thermal performance, the insulation and subsequent painting improvements have supplied a more visually appealing interior. Today, the interior of the building shell is lined with 12 ft of blue-painted metal siding. The remaining inside wall and door areas are painted white or have the white all-surface jacket of the board insulation exposed.

“It’s rewarding to see a building like this transformed into a modern facility and returned to its rightful use as a hangar for a well-known and respected U.S. aviation company,” said Robert Burns, project engineer for the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation.

Source: Professionally Speaking newsletter from the CertainTeed Insulation Group.

Publication date: 02/18/2002