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Style, Function Shine in Concrete Floor

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

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It’s not just the activities taking place inside Pittsburgh’s Energy Innovation Center that make the building interesting. The 86-year-old former trade school itself combines environmentally friendly renovation with historic preservation—and a new topcoat on the building’s concrete floors is emblematic of those efforts.

The EIC building, which serves as a “living laboratory” for a variety of programs focused on clean and sustainable energy, once housed the Clifford B. Connelly Trade School. Built in 1930, the more than 400,000-square-foot building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is registered by the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

EIC image
Photo courtesy of Covestro

The polyurethane-coated concrete floors contrast with colorful elements in the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

In its heyday, the facility was widely considered one of the premier trade schools in the country introducing students to carpentry, masonry and other construction trades.

Floor in Need

After decades of wear and tear, the building’s concrete floors were in need of repair. Building owner nonprofit Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation enlisted help from professionals to restore them. Flooring contractor Seman Flooring repaired the existing floor with a cementitious overlay, installed an epoxy primer, then applied a two-component waterborne polyurethane topcoat.

Manufactured by The Sherwin-Williams Company, the polyurethane product relies on technology developed by raw materials supplier Covestro. According to Covestro, the technology was designed to act much like a solvent-based polyurethane system, but with less odor during the application process.

Clean and Green

The unconventional challenge of the EIC project, directed by architect DLA + Architecture & Interior Design, was its dual priorities: preservation, in light of the building’s historic status, and environmental friendliness, given the priorities of the building owner. The renovation effort was also designed with the goal of LEED Platinum certification.

The preservation aspect is reflected in the nature of the flooring project: It was a restoration, focused on keeping the original look of the building’s floors, according to product details.

The materials specified and used in the project played into the environmental aspect. According to Covestro, the volatile organic compound (VOC) content of the system used is less than 50 grams per liter, within LEED specifications.

Style was also an important aspect of the project, according to project details. The EIC building renovation featured friendly, colorful elements mixed with an industrial vibe. The floors, with the soft sheen lent by the coating, contrasts with the colorful exposed pipe and ductwork looming above.

Durability Underfoot

And as with any floor in a highly populated building, durability was also an important consideration. According to Covestro, the flooring system was designed to handle the job.

“Other important qualities [of the coating] include UV stability, durability, longevity and good chemical and abrasion resistance,” explains Steven Reinstadtler, market manager for construction coatings at Covestro.

The Energy Innovation Center opened in 2015, and houses sustainability-focused workforce development programs, as well as like-minded tenants like the Citizen Science Lab, a do-it-yourself laboratory open to the community.


Tagged categories: Color + Design; Concrete coatings and treatments; Concrete floor coatings; Floor coatings; Green coatings; LEED; North America

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