The Joy of Soy

Soybean Polymer Roof Installed at Shedd Aquarium.

Shedd Aquarium roof.

ELMS 50, an oil-based coating derived from soybean oil, is applied.
Chicago - One of the top tourist attractions in Chicago has used a soy-based product to revitalize its facade. The John G. Shedd Aquarium was interested in two products developed in part with funding from the Soybean Checkoff Board and the United Soybean Board. The Environmental Liquid Membrane System® (ELMS) Natural Masonry JacketTM (NMJ) has been used as a waterproof material for the structure's walls, and ELMS 50 was applied as an Energy Star-approved reflective waterproof roofing system in the spring of 2004.

"Using soybean oil instead of petroleum oil in products like NMJ and ELMS 50 helps us maintain outstanding performance that customers expect from our products, but in a more environmentally friendly manner," said Grant Grable, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Green Products LLC, the manufacturer of the ELMS line of membrane technologies. "What's more, overall cost savings are often realized due to the single-coat application of the ELMS systems."

The Shedd Aquarium was originally built of terra cotta, which is an expensive material to replace. To reduce overall costs, limestone was used in place of the terra cotta and was coated with a custom-colored NMJ to make the new surface waterproof. NMJ is an oil-based coating, made from soybean oil, which is applied to porous surfaces to make them waterproof.

"By using energy-efficient and environmentally friendly products on our roof, Shedd Aquarium continues to be a leader in preserving our natural environment through its best practices," said Brad Popovich, vice president of Facilities. "Using a soy-based roof has provided us with a positive alternative to non-renewable petroleum-based products. The soy roof is from a renewable resource, meets the highest EPA standards and helps minimize the ‘urban heat island effect.'"

To combat that, the highly reflective soybean-derived white coating stays cool, unlike traditional black asphalt roofs, which get so hot in the summer they actually raise air temperatures 2-8 degrees more than in surrounding rural areas.

ELMS 50 is 100% waterproof. It can be spray-applied or applied with a roller, usually in one coat, which provides some additional cost savings. ELMS 50 is the only renewable resource-based roofing coating that has earned Energy Star approval, and it carries a UL Class "A" fire rating. Because ELMS 50 is a reflective coating, it helps reduce the energy needed for cooling buildings, which results in lower smog levels, the company says.

"It's great to see buildings that feature the environment, like the Shedd Aquarium, take specific care to use an environmentally friendly product during renovations," said Grable.

For more information, contact Green Products LLC, phone (877) 474-7481 or visit .

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