One of the storefronts on our town's main drag has, like so many others, recently lost its tenant. And like many other buildings in this position, it's being given a bit of a facelift to prepare it for a new tenant. What's different about this one is that instead of just sprucing up the building's looks with a fresh coat of paint and new lighting, the owners seem to be giving it a top-to-bottom energy-efficiency makeover. There are new solar panels on the roof (which you can't see in the picture), and I got a glimpse of some traditional fiberglass insulation inside—but the most unusual part of this building's transformation is that they have actually been sheathing the entire building, on the outside, with sheets of polystyrene.
Yep, all those white squares covering most of the outside of the building: that's what they are. Even the decorative trimwork that's being added around the edges is all made of smaller pieces of foam. (Here's a close-up so you can see.) They've got most of the building covered now, and they're in the process of covering the polystyrene with some sort of primer, which I assume will in turn be covered up with stucco. It's a pretty innovative way to make a building more energy-efficient, I guess, and it's probably a lot easier than ripping out the walls to add insulation from inside—and whatever is less labor-intensive is probably cheaper and thus more frugal. But I have to admit, it's not an appropach that would ever have occurred to me. I'll be watching with interest to see how this project turns out. (One thing the builders have working to their advantage is that this particular building could hardly end up looking worse than it did to start out with.)