Cutting Edge Industries Lowers
the Thermostat in Las Vegas
You can bet your bottom dollar that it's hot right now in Las Vegas, but customers of Cutting Edge Industries (CEI) are probably feeling less heat in their energy bills than their less fortunate neighbors.
The team at CEI, led by David and Trina D'Arienzo, has established their identity as a source for green building materials and sundries in this desert city. Key products include a graffiti resistant Venetian Plaster suitable for exterior facades, soy-based VOC-free concrete stains, and an ‘insulating' additive for exterior paint and stucco. “We focus primarily on eco-friendly products,” said Trina, “and Insuladd was the product that opened that door for us.”
Long before finding its way into building environments, Insuladd technology was utilized by NASA engineers to help reduce heat on sensitive Space Shuttle components. Once it's applied, the product forms a heat barrier that – unlike insulation – actually reflects heat away the substrate.
That sounds like an easy sell in sunny Las Vegas, but David has found that many builders and specifiers first need a little education on what the product is and how it actually works. Insuladd is supplied as a measured portion of engineered ceramic microspheres. When added to any brand or color of wet paint or stucco and properly applied, it forms an invisible barrier that reflects heat away from exterior wall surfaces.
“The biggest problem we've had is getting people to understand what thermal protection means and what radiant barrier means. When you talk about keeping the heat out, they think of insulation batts or blown in material,” explained David D'Arienzo. “And they think in terms of r-value. Because of how Insuladd works, it doesn't have a traditional r-value, it has an r-value equivalent, which we categorize as 5.7.”
Insuladd executive Gary Wolfe describes the product's effect using some different measurements. “When Insuladd is mixed into your paint, it reduces the heat load – the BTU load - by 50 percent,” he said. “Insuladd does not have an r-value; it makes whatever r-value you have in your wall perform better, because if the heat doesn't hit the insulation, the insulation has less to do.”
It's not rocket science – so to speak – but selling radiant barrier technology to a high volume builder might take a little more effort the first time. “What people sometimes have trouble with is the idea that paint can be an ‘insulator,' that paint can have thermal properties. It might require a little more explanation,” said David. “But the reality is that we can give you independent testing data, government studies, informal reports from individuals, and everything you could think of to back that up.”
As a result, Cutting Edge Industries has snagged a piece of some good sized projects, residential and commercial. David D'Arienzo cites Desert Oak Homes, which builds luxury homes in the 4,000 - 6,000 square foot range at costs between $600,000 and $1.5 million. They offer a green package that includes an upgrade in insulation, energy efficient appliances, and related materials. “Most of their customers go for that,” said David, “and Insuladd happens to be one their options.” That allows the builder to compare energy costs, apple-to-apple, between two otherwise identical homes – one with Insuladd, one without. “We've seen differences of about 20 percent and even as much as 25 percent, but it's hard to determine exactly where those savings come from,” D'Arienzo acknowledged. “We're comfortable saying the difference is between 15 and 20 percent.”
Other key projects include a tilt-up construction ice skating rink, where the building managers credit CEI with helping them achieve freeze temperature on hotter Las Vegas days. And Trina D'Arienzo enjoys telling how Cox Communications made it more comfortable to touch their outdoor stairways' metal handrails by coating them with Insuladd fortified paint.
During the construction slow-down, Cutting Edge has come up with a novel idea for generating additional sales. “We started pushing the idea of spraying the inside of attics with Insuladd,” said David. ‘We'd tell builders that they could make money adding it to waste paint that they would otherwise pay 2 or 3 dollars to get rid of… and then we saw some painting contractors who were starting to do that in existing homes. They'd just go up there with an airless and shoot as far as they could reach.”
Typically, Insuladd adds about $15 to a gallon of paint, and some contractors were taking a 40 percent mark-up. David points to engineering studies showing that high-efficiency air conditioner will kick on when there's a 1-1/2 to 2 degree temperature change in the house. “So if you could make a 2 degree difference in that house – and we were seeing 5 or 6 degree differences – then you're getting some real energy savings.”
Another product doing well for CEI is Akrostucco, a Venetian Plaster for exterior/interior use that is also graffiti resistant. “You can write on it with a Sharpie and wash it right off,” said D'Arienzo. “It only requires a third the material you'd use with other stuff and it's less expensive.”
Cutting Edge Industries sells direct to builders and contractors, and also distributes to other dealers nationwide. • 702-646-6800 • 303-225-8020

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