GAF Mission

"to TEACH inner city youth and/or underprivileged persons to be successful entrepreneurs while revitalizing inner city neighborhoods with a concentration on socially responsible/sustainable business practices"

GAF is the
Western Mass Office for

Making An Appearance

Wow, the facade of our building is quickly changing. In addition to the vestibule that will hold our entrance/exit, insulated metal panels (IMPs) are now being applied to the front and sides of our future home at 83 Warwick Street. The exterior of the building has been covered with R-29 insulation and air sealed, with the Kingspan IMPs applied over a rockwool covering affixed to the masonry exterior. This work helps to ensure that the shell of our building is super energy efficient.

The IMPs being unloaded from the flatbed truck.

The panels, which are temporarily being stored in the parking lot.

The IMPs that have been installed to the facade of the building. We used crisp white and hunter green colors for the panels, which will make the design of the building really pop.

. . . → Read More: Making An Appearance

Green Building Construction Tour

On Thursday, August 25th, EcoBuilding Bargains hosted a Green Building Construction Tour at our future location on 83 Warwick St. in Springfield. Our honored guests included Secretary Sullivan (Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs), Mayor Domenic Sarno, Jeffrey Simon (Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Office), staff from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), capital campaign supporters, material donors and partners, and other leaders in the local community. Thanks to all who attended!

Our presentation and tour highlighted the progress made in the construction of our new building, and pointed to all of the energy efficient features that will let us use about 60% less energy than a typical warehouse building of its size. We have a list of many of them in this handout.

22 News ran a story today about the event, you can see that here. The Republican/MassLive was also in attendance, you can read their article . . . → Read More: Green Building Construction Tour

Creating An Entrance

The facade of 83 Warwick Street has changed pretty drastically within the past couple of days as our new vestibule is being framed out. The vestibule is made of reclaimed materials including 6×8′ posts and beams salvaged from a bridge project in Rhode Island (thanks to Architectural Timber and Millwork of Hadley, MA), sliding glass door panels from our store, and naturally rot resistant locust wood milled from trees harvested during the construction of our parking lot.

Besides keeping in line with our mission of reusing valuable materials, the attached vestibule helps to reduce heat escaping from the building, and is among many other energy efficient features in our construction.

Insulating Interior Walls

Within the past few weeks, the interior walls of our garage bay have been completed insulated and covered with sheetrock. The process used was an interesting one, and will help ensure that our building stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. First, dense pack insulation with an R-value of 21 was blown into the wall cavity. Cellulose insulation is considered a “green” product, typically 80% post-consumer recycled newspaper by weight. After the cellulose insulation was blown into the stud cavities, 1″ Tuff-R insulation panels were applied to the inside face of the wall over the studs and cellulose. The Tuff-R has a Polyisocyanurate foam core with reflective/radiant barrier-quality aluminum foil facers on both sides. The foil facing acts as a radiant barrier to reflect heat energy back into the building and also serves as an air barrier in the wall system. Gypsum wall board was installed over . . . → Read More: Insulating Interior Walls

We’re Rockin’ with Sheetrock

In the past few weeks, the stick frame skeleton of our office blocks and hallway has been covered in sheetrock, shaping what the various rooms will become. Our two-story office block now has windows and interior doors (reused of course!), in addition to a new staircase that provides quick access from the sales floor to the manager’s office. Although the sheetrock is covering interior walls and therefore doesn’t need to be insulated, this project was completed around the same time that cellulose insulation was blown into the walls covering our garage bay (more about this in the next blog post).

The exterior of the offices.

Hallway leading to employee breakroom and conference room.

New Columns

We had to replace some of the columns in our building because old roof leaks had damaged them. But we had to replace them with stronger ones, because our new super-insulated building will lose less heat through the roof. This means the snow will not melt as quickly and will be deeper and heavier than before, so our roof needs to be able to handle that load. We also want to make sure that when we add solar panels in the future, our roof can support those too.

The old cement filled columns have been successfully removed, and shiny new columns have taken their place. Each column weighed about 2 tons and in addition to being cement filled, also contained another column within.

The new columns are hollow, but very durable steel. Although they will soon blend into the landscape once the store is filled with racking and products, their . . . → Read More: New Columns

Column Repairs

When the tops of your columns look like this-it is time to dig in and replace them. Here are some pictures of the prep to remove them while we wait for the new ones to be fabricated.

Cement filled steel columns damaged by roof leaks.

First we cut into the floor to expose the column base.

Then we brace the roof with structural scaffolding.


I know we have already posted the dramatic painting shots but I couldn’t resist adding these before and after panoramas. My thanks to Caryn Brause and Sitelab Architecture (you’ll hear a lot more about her and this building) for showing me the way of the panorama.

Before and after the paint job. The scaffolding is prep for replacing the columns. More on that in a later post.

Stick Framing

While the basic layout of the retail space has always been right there for all to see, the offices and other new rooms have just been on paper. Now the stick framing has been going up at a good clip and it’s finished! In our current space we have 5 desks in one office. In the new space we will have seven desks in five offices. Additionally we will have a small conference room and a large classroom. Also, as part of our LEED certification we will also have a separate room for our copier.

Looking from the Managers office through the small conference room into the Marketing office.

One of two identical bathrooms.

Large classroom/conference room before hallway was framed.

Hallway to the classroom. The staff room is on the left.

We moved the stairs that were taking up . . . → Read More: Stick Framing

A Fresh Coat of Paint

We have a crackerjack crew of painters from the Hampden County Sheriffs’ Department who are priming the interior. What a difference!

The progress has been fast and the contrast is amazing. They have been using a “dry fall” paint which, you got it, dries as it falls so we just sweep it up.

They are doing the ceiling and then the masonry walls.

We’ll keep the pictures of the progress coming.