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Sitting just off Interstate 35 south of San Marcos, Texas is one of the most efficient, safe, healthy, and comfortable office buildings in the entire State of Texas. As one of the first buildings constructed using the Bautex Block Wall System, our office is the best case study for demonstrating the performance and benefits of the Bautex Block walls.
Completed in the spring of 2014, this single story 3,900 square foot building has experienced the typical Texas extremes of prolonged drought, torrential rains, ice storms, and even snow. Shortly after we moved into the building in May 2014, an energy monitoring system was installed in order to track the real-time energy usage and overall cost of powering the building.
Specifically, we wanted to collect data on the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) separate of all other electrical loads. Prior to construction, two different energy models were conducted to determine the projected heating and cooling cost of a baseline traditional wood frame building compared to one constructed using the Bautex Wall System. The model predicted a $385 per month heating and cooling cost for the wood frame building, and $125 per month for the Bautex Block building - a $260 per month savings (67.5% reduction)!
After four years in the building, we have been averaging $123 per month in heating and cooling costs and $243 per month in total energy costs. This includes a full server closet, employees, computers, lights, hot water heater and a kitchen. The office has a large open volume with 14’ wall heights and drop ceiling.
The thermal performance of the wall system and building as a whole is not just experienced through lower electricity bills, but through direct experience. For example, the office was closed for a long and particularly cold weekend over the New Year holiday and the HVAC system was accidentally set to Emergency Heat, which means that the system would not turn on until the thermostat in the building got into the 30’s. The morning when everyone returned to the office, we found that the interior of the building had not fallen below 67 degrees despite outdoor temperatures spending most of the time below freezing.
Likewise, during the hot summer months, the thermostat is set to 80 degrees over the weekend. On Monday mornings when everyone gets back at work, the temperature inside the building remains 76 degrees, and the air conditioning system hasn’t run all weekend.
While the extreme energy efficiency of the building is great, the sound reducing properties are one of our favorite aspects of the office. The interior is surprisingly quiet even though we’re so close to the Interstate and our noisy manufacturing operations are just 10 feet directly behind the office building. The sound reducing properties of the Bautex Block are evident the moment you first walk through the front door. Visitors often take a second to process what is different once they enter the building. A high sound transmission class (STC) rating is easily measurable, but the actual experience is difficult for people to describe. It makes for a calm and peaceful space to work in despite the highway traffic and the rumble of Bautex Block being manufactured just feet away.
Chris Leonard, Director of Operations and Technical Services at Bautex, noted, “When I come inside from the manufacturing facility and the door shuts behind me, the quietness of the office is something I look forward too. It allows you to not be distracted by outside noise and to focus on what you’re working on.”
As a building materials manufacturer, we knew we were going to have a chance to “eat our own cooking” by building our office using our insulated concrete wall system. And while we had all participated in the development of the product and the product testing program, we were all still pleasantly surprised at the quality of experience the Bautex Block Wall System provides to building occupants. Energy savings are fantastic, but the quiet and comfortable interior spaces create a wonderful environment in which to work.
If you are ready for the Bautex Experience for yourself, check out our website at www.bautexsystems.com or just stop by the office next time you are in Central Texas. We would love to give you a tour so you can experience Bautex first hand.