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Atlas Brings Sustainability to NoHo West

Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Atlas is providing its EnergyShield® Pro wall insulation to NoHo West, a new mixed-use community in North Hollywood, California. The polyiso insulation is being used as a water-resistive barrier and to meet an impending 2020 California building code requiring continuous insulation in all new construction.

Project Challenge

Built in 1955, Laurel Plaza in North Hollywood, California, has had quite a history – and is now entering the next phase of its story. The building transitioned from its original May Co. store to a bustling shopping center with Macy’s as its anchor before suffering significant earthquake damage a few years ago. The forgotten and dilapidated shopping center is now well on its way to revitalization thanks to new developers with a vision.

The former Laurel Plaza will soon become NoHo West, a mixed-use community complete with creative office space, apartments and retail. The project will include a variety of environmentally friendly features, like electric car charging stations, bicycle parking and a solar energy canopy above the parking garage. Due to the progressive and forward-thinking nature of this project, it was decided to design and build the new development to comply with impending 2020 California code that will require continuous insulation in all new constructions. Additionally, new design needs and costs required valuing engineering to cut down on budget and construction schedule.


The building owner, Merlone Geier Partners, and Los Angeles-based STIR Architects called for continuous insulation as the backbone for new exterior wall systems that would become the standard of 21st century construction. The building’s original design called for continuous insulation to be applied with the water resistive barrier (WRB) membrane adhered to the face of the continuous insulation. After additional budget and scheduling needs were considered, the design and construction team needed to find ways not only to reduce the construction cost and timeline, but also to reduce the project’s overall carbon footprint. Tim O’Conner, with Superior Wall Systems (SWS), the subcontractor responsible for exterior wall systems on this project, worked closely with insulation manufacturer Atlas Roofing Corporation to alter the wall assembly for better performance and reduced labor and cost. SWS decided to use the exterior wall insulation as the WRB as well. This new assembly allowed the removal of the adhered sheet WRB in favor of taping the joints of Atlas EnergyShield® Pro. EnergyShield Pro is a foil faced continuous insulation and, when an approved tape is properly adhered, can fulfill the needs of a WRB. Additionally, EnergyShield Pro is a versatile insulation and is compatible with the multiple types of cladding used on this project.

SWS and Atlas were able to provide a solution to the architect and building owner that not only met these specific design needs, but also ensures long-term energy efficiency and reduced the project’s carbon footprint and construction schedule by eliminating construction materials. With the pending 2020 California code changes on the horizon requiring exterior wall systems to include continuous insulation, the team had to choose the right materials for regulatory compliance with the design flexibility needed to support the vision of the project. As an expert in polyiso manufacturing with more than 30 years of experience improving building envelope performance, Atlas EnergyShield Pro became the ideal choice.

Tim O’Connor, SWS’ Pre-Con Director and Chief Estimator, worked closely with the Atlas team to find a system that would meet all the design and code requirements.

A third-party testing company performed an inspection to validate the use of EnergyShield Pro as the WRB in lieu of a peel and stick membrane on the project. Results of the testing determined the use of EnergyShield Pro as the WRB was acceptable and met all necessary requirements.


Because the team chose a solution that could serve as both continuous insulation and WRB, they were able to decrease material and labor costs while shortening the construction timeline. This multifunctional solution additionally reduced the environmental impact caused by excess construction materials and waste. Thanks to the high R-Value and energy efficiency of Atlas EnergyShield Pro, the exterior wall system will have fewer thermal breaks thereby saving on long-term energy costs. With less pressure placed on the building’s HVAC system, Atlas EnergyShield Pro, which is GREENGUARD Gold certified, also will reduce the building’s overall carbon footprint due to reduced heating and cooling needs. All visitors to the new NoHo West development will now enjoy a comfortable place to live, work and play in a revitalized – and green – neighborhood hub.


Atlas Changes EPS Division Name to Atlas Molded Products

Press Releases

Atlas Roofing Corporation announced today that it is changing its EPS division name to Atlas Molded Products. The name change reflects the company's recent acquisition of ACH Foam Technologies in August of 2018, making Atlas Molded Products the premier and now largest manufacturer of molded polystyrene in North America.

"The new name – Atlas Molded Products – allows us to highlight our greater coverage and broader molded polystyrene product offering, while emphasizing the fact we are a new organization," said Ken Farrish, President of Atlas Roofing Corporation. "As a company with its roots in roofing and insulation, we are committed to delivering innovative and value-added products and services that will help move the construction, packaging, and OEM industries forward." Farrish added, “The acquisition increases opportunities for supplier partners as well as for Atlas employees and the communities in which they live.”

Atlas Roofing Corporation has been providing industry leadership for more than three decades and has three other divisions outside of the Molded Products division, including the Shingles & Underlayment, Roof & Wall Insulation (Polyisocyanurate) and the Webtech division.

"We are very pleased to offer molded product solutions to a broader portion of North America and we are confident that our customers will appreciate our enhanced capabilities," said Farrish.  "To that end, we will continue to provide industry leading products and services and will continue to pursue further enhancements to Atlas Roofing Corporation’s offerings.”

The new name is effective immediately and will be implemented across the company's products and services throughout the 2019 calendar year.


Foamglas Insulation: A Great Option for Below Grade

Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Photo: Pittsburgh Corning. Foamglas is being applied here as exterior foundation insulation. Unlike XPS, Foamglas contains neither flame retardants nor high-GWP blowing agents.

For below-grade applications where moisture resistance and high compressive strength are needed, extruded polystyrene (XPS) and, to a lesser extent, expanded polystyrene (EPS) have long dominated the insulation market. But there are growing concerns both with the brominated flame retardant HBCD used in XPS and EPS and with the global warming potential of the blowing agent used in XPS (see “Polystyrene Insulation: Does It Belong in a Green Building,” EBN Aug. 2009, and “Avoiding the Global Warming Potential of Insulation,” EBN June 2010).

Foamglas building insulation has been made by Pittsburgh Corning since 1937 and is widely used in Europe. For over 60 years, however, it has only been actively marketed in North America for industrial applications. Now Pittsburgh Corning is actively marketing Foamglas for building applications.

What is Foamglas?

Foamglas is a rigid boardstock, cellular-glass insulation material that is impervious to moisture, inert, resistant to insects and vermin, strong, and fairly well-insulating. It can be used for insulating roofs, walls, and below-grade applications, including beneath slabs. The two most commonly used forms are an unfaced “T4+” product (also known as Foamglas One), and a faced form, Readyboard, with protective facings on both sides. The T4+ boards are available in 18" x 24" panels; Readyboard is sold in thicknesses from 1½" to 6", in ½" increments, both come in 2' x 4' panels.

Foamglas is made primarily from sand, limestone, and soda ash. Virgin raw materials are used in U.S. factories, while up to 66% recycled glass is used in European plants. These ingredients are melted into molten glass, which is cooled and crushed into a fine powder. The powdered glass is poured into molds and heated in a sintering process (below the melting point) that causes the particles to adhere to one another. Next, a small amount of finely ground carbon-black is added, and the material is heated in a cellulation process. The carbon reacts with oxygen, creating carbon dioxide, which forms the insulating bubbles in the Foamglas. This CO2 accounts for more than 99% of the gas in the cellular spaces, and it is permanently trapped there.

If you scratch a piece of Foamglas with your fingernail, you will detect a rotten-egg smell from hydrogen sulfide, which is produced in small quantities in the manufacturing process. While hydrogen sulfide is hazardous at high concentrations, there is very little in Foamglas, and it’s locked tightly into the cellular glass. Even after 30 years in place, scratching Foamglas produces the same smell. “It’s proof that the cells are absolutely airtight,” says Axel Rebel, vice president and general manager of Pittsburgh Corning’s North American buildings division. Even during landfill disposal, the glass cells are unlikely to degrade as quickly as cells of foam plastics, and any release of hydrogen sulfide would be dwarfed by the production of this gas from anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.

Environmental attributes Foamglas T4+ Technical Performance Properties

Foamglas has a number of important environmental and human health advantages over other insulation materials. It has no blowing agents that deplete ozone or contribute to global warming. Being noncombustible and inorganic, it has no flame retardants or other additives needed to improve fire resistance.

While the domestically produced Foamglas does not (currently) contain recycled content, the materials going into it are abundant and extracted with relatively low environmental impact. Fossil-fuel energy is used in manufacturing, but there is no hydrocarbon material in the finished product.

Foamglas is also highly durable. A West Virginia reader of a blog I recently wrote on the material said there was “absolutely no apparent deterioration” of Foamglas that his father had used under the floor slab and on exterior foundation walls in the 1950s—nearly 60 years ago.

Key performance attributes

High compressive strength.Foamglas T4+ will fully support almost any concrete slab—and may even reduce the necessary thickness of a concrete slab in some situations.

Waterproof and impervious. Foamglas is waterproof and impervious to water vapor. Foamglas panels are typically installed using an adhesive and asphalt sealer between the panels to ensure a continuous seal, making it airtight and thus a highly effective radon barrier. While neither moisture nor freezing in itself damages Foamglas, moisture exposure in areas with freeze-thaw cycles will gradually degrade Foamglas. In below-grade applications in those climates it should be protected to below frost depth, and Foamglas should not be used in an “inverted roof membrane” application in which the insulation is installed on top of the membrane.

Fireproof. Foamglas has exceptional heat and fire resistance, with a maximum service temperature of 900°F (500°C) and a melting point of over 1,800°F (1,000°C). There are no binders to burn, so virtually no smoke is produced in a fire.

Rot-proof and vermin-resistant. Being inorganic, Foamglas will not decompose and is not a food source. Termites, carpenter ants, mice, and rats will not tunnel through it; Foamglas is sometimes used as a termite shield when other below-grade insulation materials are being used.

Reasonable R-Value. Foamglas T4+ insulates to R-3.44 per inch with no degradation of thermal performance. This is a lower R-value than extruded polystyrene and most expanded polystyrene, which means that greater thickness will be required to provide comparable performance. A 6" layer will provide slightly over R-20. Foamglas is often used in Europe in buildings that achieve Passive House performance, with multiple layers used to achieve very high R-values.

Working with Foamglas

Photo: Pittsburgh Corning. Foamglas Readyboard being used in a sub-slab application..

Foamglas is typically adhered directly to a substrate, though mechanical fasteners can also be used. In most applications, an asphalt-based sealer is used between the boards, and in roofing applications hot asphalt is often used directly on it. The integral bitumen (asphalt) facings on Foamglas Readyboard simplify roof installations by allowing the membrane to be melted in-situ with a torch.

For environmental builders otherwise attracted to Foamglas, use of asphalt sealant will likely be the greatest concern. According to Rebel, when there is no need to have the installation be vapor tight, sealant can be left out or a mineral adhesive (similar to mortar) can be used. Or a separate vapor retarder membrane can be used—though this option leaves a risk of penetrations. Pittsburgh Corning also offers a range of adhesive options, including low-VOC materials, but Rebel says that an organic layer is required with any insulation material if a continuous, truly impermeable layer is called for.

Cost and availability

Foamglas is significantly more expensive than the other commonly used rigid insulation materials. The typical cost of Foamglas T4+ is about $1.00 per board-foot, depending on quantities, according to Rebel—roughly two-and-a-half times the cost of XPS. On a cost-per-R-value basis, that difference is even greater. Rebel admits that if you’re comparing insulation materials simply on cost and insulation value, you’re not going to choose Foamglas. “We have to add another value,” he says. That value can come from replacing other layers in the construction system (vapor retarders, moisture barriers, radon-control layers, termite-proofing), from greater durability, and from environmental attributes. Rebel also notes, “We can reduce the thickness of the concrete slab because Foamglas is so rigid.”

Foamglas is manufactured at two U.S. factories (in Texas and Missouri) and can be shipped anywhere. Rebel told EBN that it’s no problem to supply it for individual houses—though shipping may increase the cost and result in some additional lead time.

User experience

Foamglas has a long history of use, especially in Europe—where there tends to be a willingness to spend more money for highly durable and top-performing construction materials. Building science expert John Straube, P.Eng., has used Foamglas on construction details that required high strength and decent insulation such as under footings and brick veneers, and he considers it a good insulation option. From a moisture management perspective and as a thermal break material, he says that it works very well.


Achieving Resiliency and Energy Efficiency With ICF Construction

Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

One of the smartest decisions a home owner can make is to use Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) as an innovative building envelope alternative to traditional light-wood frame or light-gauge steel. Consider structures that survived the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. Several ICF buildings not only withstood the tremendous wind gusts, but also the force of the storm surge. But, ironically, most builders or home owners don’t choose ICF systems for their disaster resiliency. The bigger draw is the well-known energy efficiencies of insulated concrete forms.


An insulated concrete form (ICF) system offers the best of both worlds: the strength and durability of reinforced concrete and the energy efficiency of expanded polystyrene (EPS) rigid insulation. It is clearly a synergistic partnership, producing a combined effect that is greater than the sum of the separate benefits of each building product.

The ICF system serves as a permanent interior and exterior substrate for walls, floors and roofs. To construct an ICF wall, two layers of rigid insulation are separated with recycled polypropylene webs to create an ICF block. These hollow blocks are interlocked (in dry-stack fashion) and the webs locate and hold reinforcing steel (rebar) before the cavities are filled with concrete. The end-result is a reinforced concrete wall in the center, encased in barrier insulation on each side. The materials work as a team, with the concrete and rebar providing an ideal load-bearing wall that carries vertical loads and resists lateral loads from wind and seismic motions. The entire ICF wall assembly with all the layers combined creates a secure air tight envelope with good acoustic properties.

In the case of ICF roof and floor systems, the EPS functions as a one-sided insulating form on the bottom surface. EPS panels up to 30 feet in span are placed between concrete walls, then fitted with reinforced steel and filled with concrete. Since ICF walls are concrete bearing walls, any traditional flooring or roofing system can be used in conjunction with ICF wall systems, including precast hollow-core plank, reinforced concrete slabs, metal deck/steel joists,cold-formed joists or wood joists.


Step 1: Stack
Place corner blocks, they lay straight blocks toward the center of each wall segment.  

Step 2: Brace
Install alignment bracing around the entire wall of the structure to ensure that the walls are straight and plumb, as well as to enable alignment adjustment.  

Step 3: Pour
Pour the concrete into the walls using a boom pump.  

Best Practices for a Successful ICF Install
  1. Hire a qualified installer – The installer on your project should be trained and certified in the particular ICF system specified. Some product manufacturers offer site visits at several points throughout the install.
  2. Account for wall thickness – Although ICF walls are thicker, the amount of “lost” space is only noticeable in a situation where the builder changes from ICF wall to wood framed construction in a knee wall scenario.
  3. Avoid inefficient wall sizes/shapes – Walls with bump-ins or bump-outs result in shorter walls (i.e., less useful living spaces) or shifting of window placement if these features are used around corners. Whenever possible, straighten bump-ins and bump-outs. This will not only add construction efficiency and living space, but reduce the need for more costly corner/ specialty blocks. If a bump-in/bump-out is a stylistic preference, check manufacturer recommended coursing charts—or accomplish the effect with a façade built of light guage steel, brick, block or lumber.
  4. Be aware of the right attachments – When securing items to the ICF, use the method recommended by the ICF supplier.
  5. Work efficiently with wall lengths – Your strategy for combining multiple ICF blocks and working with cuts/seams will have a major impact on project speed and quality. Select even-inch increments for wall lengths whenever possible since the connection pattern repeats every inch, thereby making stacking far easier. Work with block’s web spacing increments to ensure that all embedded attachment points are vertically aligned, allowing for smooth application of finishes. Do not take pains to achieve zero cuts in an ICF block—use of a common seam often eliminates layout problems, speeds up the process, and ensures the majority of plastic webs are aligned.
  6. Brace from the inside – Proper bracing is the key to ensuring that walls are straight and plumb, which is critical to structural integrity and accuracy for sub-contract finishing work. The higher the wall, the harder it is to reach the exterior with bracing, so brace from the inside. Rather than creating your own bracing system, go with the ICF manufacturer-recommended (OSHA approved) scaffolding/ bracing system that works best with their products.
  7. Strategically place a vertical or stack joint – In applications where a vertical or stack joint is required, place the joint over a door or window opening to minimize the required length of the joint and associated labor. Just be sure to properly brace and strap the joint at this critical juncture. Most importantly, maintain proper horizontal dimensions above and below openings.
  8. Don’t compromise the thermal envelope – Maintain continuity of insulation and avoid cantilevered concrete floors or exposed slab edges to prevent thermal breaks.
  9. Avoid heavy vibrating during concrete pour – ICF walls should be vibrated to remove voids in the concrete. Consider substituting with a small-diameter mechanical vibrator to allow concrete to spread evenly and maintain integrity.
  10. Make sure the concrete completely fills the form – To avoid holes and gaps in the concrete pour, be familiar with the structural requirements and the design of the webs. It is highly recommended for the structural engineer to be familiar with the ICF block to optimize the placement of rebar in webs in order to avoid voids and expedite stacking.
  11. Choose the proper mechanical system – Because ICF is so energy-efficient, mechanical engineers need to factor this in as they calculate HVAC requirements. In fact, if a unit is oversized, it can actually create humidity/moisture issues in the interior. The energy efficiency comes in two parts: added thermal resistance which reduce cooling/heating loads therefor allowing for reduction in the heating/cooling equipment and increased air tightness of the building due to the ICF construction. The increased air tightness usually requires for a dedicated fresh air intake to be present and properly sized. In the past, due to poor construction, the fresh air would enter via uncontrolled air leaks through the building envelope.  


“Resilience” is an integrative strategy that promotes sustainable building decisions that encompass disaster-mitigation, durability and environmental protection. While energy efficiency has been a huge motivator for selecting ICF materials to date, a building’s disaster mitigation capacities and durability are just as important as any LEED-certified standard in achieving a sustainable design.

In fact, all three priorities are so interlinked that a decision made in one sustainability arena positively impacts the others. For instance, making the decision to select a robust system like insulated concrete forms heightens a building’s durability and longevity in the face of normal wear and tear. If disaster does strike, these durable qualities minimize structural damage, which in turn conserves energy and reduces the need for additional natural resources during the recovery phase.

Adopting a resilient building strategy is not just the responsible thing to do, it is the most sustainable investment which will pay for itself many times over during the short-term build and long-term occupancy phases of a project.  

When you make the decision to install insulated concrete forms as the basis for your building’s structural system, you and your client will reap the rewards during the short-term construction and long-term occupancy phases of a build. These benefits influence virtually every facet of project decision-making, including construction cost/efficiency and building maintenance, durability and sustainability—in terms of both “green” building and disaster resilience.


Clark Pacific Unveils Complete Building Envelope System: Infinite Panel

Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Clark Pacific, a leading provider of prefabricated systems that are transforming building design and construction, has unveiled Infinite Panel, a complete building envelope system that redefines how owners and design teams approach façade systems. The Infinite Panel meets or exceeds Title 24, water, vapor, sound and fire code requirements while also giving architects and designers flexibility. The panel system paves the way for owners and design-build teams to take advantage of prefabricated systems for reduced costs, increased efficiency and less risk, without compromising design.

The building envelope is one of the most complex aspects of design due to code requirements and coordination with multiple trades. Infinite Panel solves these issues by meeting or exceeding code requirements with a standard frame and connections that give owners and design teams the freedom to focus on a project’s design. With a single source for the complete system, Clark Pacific eliminates the need for coordination across multiple trades and gives owners the simplicity of working with one provider to manage warranties. Infinite Panel is comprised of design categories that streamline the design and budgeting process, enabling rapid iterations that accelerate design and deliver budget certainty.

“In today’s construction environment, each building is typically treated as a custom project,” said Tom Anderson, general manager of facades at Clark Pacific. “Our goal is to develop and standardize façade products and systems so that owners and design teams can streamline design using a standard system and focus their attention on aesthetics. Infinite Panel offers an unlimited palette of shape and finish options, ranging from standard and premium to entirely custom, which will yield increased value to project stakeholders.”

Adding to its product portfolio, Clark Pacific will offer its own high performance windows designed specifically for Clark Pacific façade systems in late 2019. Clark Pacific will continue to evolve its complete envelope systems to provide added value to owners. Storefront and curtainwall systems will continue to be sourced from top manufacturers and local trade partners for clients requiring specialized solutions.


Dow and USGBC Launch Carbon Challenge

Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Dow and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced a Carbon Challenge that looks to address the increasing built environment growth by encouraging reductions in the operational carbon footprint of buildings. The Carbon Challenge award will recognize office buildings and shopping centers in North Asia that have reduced their carbon emissions and improved energy efficiency beyond business as usual.


Taking the methodology of standardized rating systems even further, the Carbon Challenge evaluates merits based on Scope 1 – direct emissions from owned or controlled sources and Scope 2 – indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy, during a one-year period. The Challenge is open to office buildings and shopping centers that are 20,000 square meters or larger situated in Japan, South Korea and Greater China – including mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. All data will be verified by USGBC’s Arc system. Registration will close by August 31st, 2019.

 “USGBC’s deep knowledge of green building and sustainability practices and experience with third-party verification systems, along with Dow’s demonstrated technical expertise, creates the perfect foundation for catalyzing energy improvements in buildings worldwide,” says Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC. “We are thrilled to continue to partner with Dow to build on that foundation through our first ever Carbon Challenge, which will recognize building owners and managers that are making carbon-savings an integral part of their projects.”

“As urbanization puts demand on the building industry, improving the planning and execution processes of construction and development becomes a vital piece of the sustainability puzzle,” said Nicoletta Piccolrovazzi, Dow’s circular economy market director and global technology & sustainability director for Olympic & Sports Solutions. “Across the built environment value chain, architects, builders, urban planners, developers and others are challenged at every step to create high-performing, resilient buildings and communities. With these partnerships, it is our goal to leverage one another’s relationships and distinctive expertise to take this challenge head-on and help the industry utilize the most sustainable solutions available.”

Dow and USGBC’s joint initiative not only looks to encourage carbon emissions reductions in the built environment sector – which accounts for 36 percent of final energy use and 39 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions1 globally – but also to present winners of the Carbon Challenge with an opportunity to contribute their carbon savings to the Official Carbon Partnership between Dow and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

More details and the submission form can be found at www.carbon-challenge.com.

“Three of five North Asia markets where we are proudly launching the Carbon Challenge were included in this year’s top 10 countries and territories for LEED (or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) list,” said Andy To, managing director of USGBC North Asia. “These countries are prioritizing LEED, using it to conserve energy and water, reduce carbon emissions, save money for families and business, create healthier spaces for people and improve quality of life. I look forward to seeing buildings join us in the Carbon Challenge, and working together with Dow to help create a low-carbon future!”

“Solutions to enable a low-carbon future exist today and Dow has an extensive portfolio that can help building owners make sustainable decisions about their buildings’ embedded and operational carbon footprint,” said Jean-Paul Hautekeer, global marketing director high performance building at Dow. “Through this Carbon Challenge, we aim to share Dow’s experience and encourage building owners to make decisions for better built environments.”

The Dow-IOC Official Carbon Partnership was established in September 2017. Under the program, Dow is leveraging the Olympic brand to drive engagement and implement a series of impactful carbon mitigation projects around the world. These projects aim to balance the IOC’s operational carbon footprint while helping to drive the adoption of low-carbon innovations so as to catalyze changes in industry value chains and operational efficiencies. All carbon reductions under the Carbon Partnership are verified by third party experts.

“Sustainability is at the heart of the Olympic Movement and one of its working principles,” said Marie Sallois, director of sustainability with the IOC. “Partnering with a materials science and technology company like Dow, who is also the Official Chemistry Company of the Olympic Movement, presents strategic opportunities for us to use the power of sport to inspire the world outside of sport to join us in creating a more sustainable future.”


Disaster Resilience Symposium

Building Science

The Engineering Laboratory at NIST, Gaithersburg, will be hosting its second annual symposium, August 7-8, 2019, featuring the Disaster Resilience Grant Research Program recipients. Of the original 172 disaster resilience research proposals 12 were awarded totaling just over $6 million. Additionally, the 2018 Disaster Resilience Grant Research Program review process is currently underway and we hope to make the announcement of successful applicants in the near future. 

Credit: Dept. of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate

As in the previous symposium recipients will convene to share insights and findings based on the research topics funded under the 2016-NIST-DR-01. Recipients will present their research and findings from the first two years of their awards from topics that include Disaster and Failure StudiesNational Earthquake Hazards Reduction ProgramWind Impact Reduction, and Reduced Ignition of Building Components in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires Project. Additionally, NIST researchers will present their work that supports advancement in U.S. Disaster Resilience. 

Keynote presentations by Prof. Albert Simeoni of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Dr. James Harris of J.R. Harris and Company.

Learn More


Hebrew University of Jerusalem: 3D Printing with Wood as Alternative to Plastics

Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem are taking the study of 3D printing and materials one step further in creating a new ink made from wood. In their recently published paper, ‘Additive Manufacturing of 3D Structures Composed of Wood Materials,’ authors Dr. Michael Layani, Prof. Shlomo Magdassi, Prof. Oded Shoseyov, and PhD student Doron Kam expound on the benefits of this new material, used in both binder jetting and extrusion 3D printing technology, with an international patent currently in the process of being filed for the new technique.

This new ink is made up of wood flour particles which spread out in a cellulose nanocrystal and hemicellulose matrix. The ‘flour,’ referred to by the team as WF, also offers a way to recycle further, using reclaimed wood, or materials that have been ground finely. Added to that is a binder of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and xyloglucan (XG)—materials that have previously been used (separately of one another) in creating hydrogels.

“The nanocomposite structure of wood consists of complementary materials and cellular structures, chemically bound to provide trees with the superior material properties, such as low density and the thermal resistance required to withstand extreme environmental conditions,” state the researchers. “At the plant cell wall dimension, cellulose crystallinity is the main strength-providing component in cellulose microfibrils and hemicelluloses, such as xyloglucan, glue the microfibrils together into a composite structure that is both strong and tough.”

A) Schematic illustration of the extrusion-based 3D printing technique. B) Direct ink writing (DIW) of mashrabiya, a wooden “harem window”. C) Multimaterial printing of two wood types into a chess board model. D) Direct cryo writing (DCW) of a nut and screw and E) cross-section of a DCW-printed sample.

3D printed wood is not exactly a new concept, with numerous techniques previously involving FDM 3D printing with plastic filaments. Other research teams have used materials such as wood chips blended with other powders like cement, silicone, and more (and often bound with toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde too, causing restrictions in use). In this new process, the authors explain that they used water-based inks—first optimizing the materials, and then optimizing ‘compositions in 3D printing.’

In extrusion, the researchers used both direct-ink writing and direct cryo-writing—with the process relying on the quality of the ink; ultimately, however, only some of the inks were suitable for use. Both techniques also required post-processing to dry the samples, resulting in volumetric decrease and ‘concurrent density increase’ in the DIW samples. The team noted that the end product, in either case, was so dense, it could be processed with tools that would normally be used on natural wood.

In using the direct cryo writing procedure, materials ranged in density—again, matching natural wood like balsa or even ebony. The team was able to create parts like a model chessboard, using both maple and eucalyptus-based inks.

“We noted that the object appeared homogenous, with no delamination between different parts, since the same binder composition was used for both inks,” stated the researchers.

In binder-jet printing, the research team 3D printed on a solid substrate, with CNC inklet droplets demonstrating a ‘uniform and repetitive’ pattern. They also experimented with a multi-color 3D printer, using WF with an XG/CNC binder.

Images of direct ink writing (DIW) printed wood and 3D scans of different predesigned lumber cut warping conditions. Arrows indicate printing pathway directions, corresponding to plant cell arrangement (scale bar: 10 mm).

“This setup enabled control of the ratio between the two binder components as well as the ratio of binder to WF powder by control of the number of printed droplets,” stated the research team.

“After printing, we quantified the physical properties of objects printed with ink containing varying rations of XG and CNC. Mold casting was achieved by either casting in a mold followed by drying at RT or freeze casting followed by lyophilization. Different ratios of XG:CNC in aqueous suspension were mixed with WF from Eucalyptus at a constant total solid mass. It was found that the compressive modulus and strength increased with increasing CNC concentrations, for samples obtained by drying at RT.”

In performing ‘unconfined’ compression tests, the researchers also found that both modulus and strength were increasing along with increases in the binder, like natural wood. Thermal conductivity of the 3D printed wood samples was low; in fact, the researchers stated that it was remarkably so. They also noted some disintegration upon immersion in water, but the samples reverted to their initial form upon drying.

A) Schematic illustration of the inkjet-based 3D printing technique. B) 2D inkjetted CNC to form the HUJI symbol on a silicon wafer. C) AFM image of one inkjet droplet. D) Binder jet window model and E) binder jet cylinder model.

“The presented approaches for 3D printing of wood-based objects, enabled hierarchical structuring, and control over the macroproperties of the resulting objects. The ink components both bear a low environmental footprint and avoided usage of fossil oil-based resins that are commonly used in industrial engineered wood. We expect that the presented printing approaches and material compositions will open new directions in the field of additive manufacturing, overcome traditional wood industry barriers, and exploit woodwaste,” concluded the researchers.

3D printing draws many users who are extremely environmentally conscious, along with being concerned effects of plastics on the planet—and in regards to humans also, in biomedical applications; however, there are other worries too regarding toxicity and emissions. Researchers are achieving further success also with a variety of different materials that may prove to be better in the long run, along with enhancing products by using a growing variety of composites—including those with wood.


Bio Fiber-Polymer Composites Symposium

Press ReleasesHosted by: Forest Products Society & Forest Products Laboratory September 4-5, 2019 in Madison, Wisconsin

Madison Concourse Hotel
One West Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53703

Registration opens January 3, 2019, register online by August 20, 2019.
(Registration after August 20 must be completed onsite and will incur a $50 late fee.)

Abstract submission deadline is April 19, 2019
Notification of acceptance: May 6, 2019


Conference Overview

This symposium provides a forum for experts from scientific, technical, and industrial communications to exchange and disseminate information on the latest advances and future opportunities for fiber-polymer composites. Presentations covering wood fibers, natural fibers, and nanocellulose composites will be featured.


Register online through August 20th, 2019. After August 20th, registration must be completed onsite and will incur a $50 late fee.

Who Should Attend?
  • Researchers and educators
  • Producers and potential producers
  • Suppliers of wood and biofiber
  • Suppliers of equipment and services
  • Consultants and engineers

Learn More & Register


Exterior Envelope Continuous Insulation Solution

Press Releases

Icynene-Lapolla, the global supplier and manufacturer of high performance, energy efficient building envelope solutions, announced its all new Icynene X-Wall System. An all-in-one continuous insulation solution for the exterior envelope, Icynene X-Wall provides long term energy efficiency and savings and protects the structure from nature’s elements.

“Icynene X-Wall is designed to provide a solution to architects, specifiers and builders seeking an insulation solution that meets the new Continuous Insulation requirements at a reasonable installed cost,” said Doug Kramer, president and CEO of Icynene-Lapolla.

Icynene X-Wall is a system comprised of high performance, closed cell spray polyurethane foam and flashing. Incorporating Icynene’s ProSeal HFO spray applied insulation and liquid flashing, the complete system serves as thermal insulation, tightly sealed air barrier, class II vapor retarder, and water-resistant barrier. The innovative system is ideal for use across all climate zones and may be utilized on commercial and industrial, as well as on institutional buildings including schools and hospitals.

“This is an ideal alternative to rigid XPS foam insulation board,” adds Kramer. “It’s cost efficient and the closed cell spray foam is able to seal all cracks, seams and studs better than any other exterior insulation solution available.”

The Icynene ProSeal HFO spray foam insulation used in X-Wall is a low-VOC building material which has been developed with a fourth generation, environmentally friendly blowing agent with zero Ozone Depletion Potential. It also offers the lowest Global Warming Potential value, with a GWP of 1, for foam insulation products. The insulation is UL Greenguard Gold Certified.

The X-Wall liquid flashing is a high-quality, gun grade, elastomeric, polyether liquid-applied flashing and detailing membrane. Used for doors and windows, the material bonds to the majority of construction materials including aluminum, brick, concrete, wood, vinyl and exterior gypsum board.

Icynene X-Wall meets the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) which requires continuous insulation in the building envelope in most climate zones.

In addition to optimizing energy efficiency in the structure, Icynene X-Wall also helps to protect the structure from moisture damage. The system meets stringent ICC criteria for foam plastic insulation to qualify as a Water Resistive Barrier (WRB). The system also offers the spray foam industry’s first 15-year thermal warranty.


Johns Manville's Cavity-Shield Insulation Provides Fire Protection for Multifamily Projects

Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The JM Formaldehyde-free Cavity-SHIELD fiberglass batt, one of Johns Manville’s newest fiberglass insulation products, is specifically designed for insulating and fireproofing the spaces between floors in multifamily projects. When installed according to NFPA 13 guidelines, the batts obviate the need for sprinkler systems within concealed floor spaces, says the firm, saving time and money during construction and reducing the risk of leaks.

The JM Formaldehyde-free Cavity-SHIELD fiberglass batt, shown here installed in a floor space cavity. Courtesy of Johns Manville.

The noncombustible batts are made of long glass fibers bonded with thermosetting resin, which won't rot, mildew, or deteriorate over the life of the project, according to the manufacturer. Because the insulation contains no formaldehyde, it limits inhabitants’ VOC exposure and promotes healthier indoor air quality.

Each batt is designed to "friction-fit" into its cavity and requires no additional equipment to install. The product is available in many thicknesses and can be cut to fit with a utility knife.

“Johns Manville is committed to ensuring customers have the product options available matched to their specific needs, and we recognized an opportunity to create an alternative fire-protection product for customers with Cavity-SHIELD insulation batts,” says Mandy Schweitzer, senior product manager at Johns Manville. "Offering a batt product that combines passive fire protection with the high-quality standards customers expect from Johns Manville allows for flexibility in project options, ultimately saving both time and resources.”


Cameron Ashley Building Products Opens Distribution Center in Arizona


Distributor Cameron Ashley Building Products announced the opening of its latest distribution center in Phoenix, Ariz. The location will serve customers in Phoenix, Tuscon, Prescott, and Flagstaff, Ariz. and surrounding local markets.

The Phoenix distribution center will provide sales, marketing, merchandising, and local inventory for continued growth in roofing, insulation, and other building materials in a new market for Cameron Ashley, according to the company. TAMKO RoofingCertainTeed Roofing, Owens Corning, Knauf InsulationLomanco Ventilation, and Armstrong will be among the key suppliers for the distribution center.

“We are pleased to begin expanding our service westward to Phoenix and its surrounding markets,” Aaron Davis, regional vice president, said in a public statement. “In addition to new opportunities, this will also allow us to increase our service to our current customers located in the Southwest. Having substantial on-ground inventory close to our customers, while supporting their sell through of our products with sales, marketing, and merchandising is a win-win situation.”

The facility is the fourth distribution center Greensville, S.C.-based Cameron Ashley has opened in 2019. The distributor previously opened centers in Rocky Mount, N.C., and Macedonia, Ohio, in January, and an additional distribution center in Columbia, S.C., in February.

Cameron Ashley, a company of Pacific Avenue Capital Partners, is a distributor of roofing, insulation, gypsum, and other specialty building products with more than 35 distribution centers nationwide. In addition to the four distribution center openings in 2019, Cameron Ashley also announced its acquisition of St. Louis-based distributor Warrior Building Products in late January. Cameron Ashley has become active in expansions and acquisitions since Pacific Avenue has taken over ownership of the company in April 2018. The company changed its name from Guardian Building Products to Ashley Building Products at the beginning of the year.


Question & Answer: Smoke Toxicity

Energy EfficiencyGeneral Information on Smoke Toxicity:

What byproducts are found in smoke?
The combustion of products that contain organic materials produce carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and water. So, for example, burning common materials like wood will produce these substances. Products that contain nitrogen will also produce certain amounts of hydrogen cyanide and nitrogen oxides. Common products that contain nitrogen include sheep’s wool, silk, and composite wood products using polyurethane binders. Smoke and byproducts from fires are toxic regardless of the source of those fires and what is being burned.

What is the most abundant toxicant in fires?
Carbon monoxide (CO). In terms of hazard, carbon monoxide (CO) is typically the most abundant toxicant in fires under almost all combustion conditions. CO is also responsible for most deaths in fires.1

Are there long-term effects when exposed to smoke toxicants?
The nature and frequency of exposures to smoke toxicants will determine any long-term effects. For most people, exposure to fire gases is a single life time event, if ever. When people can escape from a fire or are rescued, they can normally recover fully after a short period of time. This may be different if people already suffer from a special or particular pulmonary disease. Certain populations may encounter fire events more frequently and require special protective devices. For example, firefighters are required to wear breathing protection when in the immediate vicinity of fires. The expectation for firefighters is that their long-term exposure to smoke toxicants is reduced through the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and safe work practices.

Information Specific to Polyurethane Products:

What are polyurethane products?
Polyurethanes refer to a wide range of products that include flexible foams used in furniture and automobiles, rigid foams used as building insulation, durable coatings, adhesives and sealants, and even certain items of apparel.2

Can polyurethane products burn?
As with other common organic materials, polyurethane foam products are combustible when exposed to a sufficient ignition source. For that reason, to maximize their safety many polyurethane products are flame retarded or protected by a barrier that can delay ignition, retard combustion, reduce surface burning, or otherwise protect the material from fires.

Do polyurethane products emit smoke when burning?
Yes. Like any material in a fire, the amount of smoke generated is dependent on a number of factors, including the amount and type of burning material, the amount of oxygen available, and the temperature of the fire.

Do polyurethane products produce a unique toxicity risk in fires?
No. While a range of airborne chemicals may be emitted during fire events involving polyurethane products, all combustible materials produce toxic smoke when burned, including wood. In terms of hazard, carbon monoxide (CO) is typically the most abundant toxicant in fires under almost all combustion conditions. Additional combustion byproducts may include carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, and other potentially hazardous decomposition products. The composition of these chemicals, when emitted, may vary.

Do fires involving polyurethane present a significantly greater health risk than fires involving other synthetic or natural materials?
No. Smoke from a fire that involves polyurethane products does not present a significantly greater health risk than fires resulting from the burning of other synthetic or natural materials. While the combustion of polyurethane products can produce smoke containing hydrogen cyanide (HCN), it is also true that HCN is produced whenever nitrogen-containing materials are burned (e.g., sheep’s wool, silk, and wood composites). The hazards created by any burning material are strongly dependent on the fire scenario, which is a complex phenomenon influenced by a range of factors such as room size, temperature, ventilation conditions, exposure time, source, and location of ignition.3

Does the use of polyurethane foam insulation in a home present an increased risk of exposure to smoke toxicants as compared to a home insulated with other organic materials?
No. Research has shown that in a fire event the combustion of products that contain organic materials will produce similar smoke toxicants. For example, the combustion of wood and polyurethane foam insulation will produce carbon monoxide (CO) – CO is the most abundant toxicant in fires under almost all combustion conditions. It is important to remember that building fire safety codes and other protective measures like the use of flame retardants are in place to help prevent fires from starting and to provide building occupants with valuable escape time.

How are polyurethane products protected from fire?
Like other commonly used products, fire safety standards are in place to regulate the use of some polyurethane products such as construction materials, upholstered furniture, and mattresses. Some of these standards require products to pass fire safety tests and also govern how products are used. Manufacturers use a combination of fire safety technologies and product and assembly designs to meet these standards.

1 http://www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/news-and-media/press-room/reporter...
2 For more detailed information on polyurethanes, visit: https://polyurethane.americanchemistry.com/Introduction-to-Polyurethanes/
3 ISO TS 29761:2015 “Fire safety engineering – Selection of design occupant behavioral scenarios”- § 5.4.

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Foam-Control Plus+ 600 Provides Positive Drainage With Precise Taper and Lightweight Fill

Press Releases

When Weber State University engaged MHTN Architects to solve waterproofing problems on Stromberg Athletic Complex, everyone involved saw a valuable secondary opportunity. Rebuilding the waterproofing also provided an opportunity to replace an underutilized roof-top plaza with new Pickle Ball courts. After repairing the structural steel and integrating a new waterproofing system the team needed to think carefully about draining water off the courts and building. That’s where designers turned to Foam-Control® PLUS+ 600 insulation from ACH Foam Technologies.

Foam-Control PLUS+ 600 insulation from ACH Foam Technologies was easy to install, custom cut, and move around the job site for the construction team at Weber State.

Since the roof’s existing structural slab was sloped to drain, designers needed a lightweight, void-filler between the structural slab and the underside of the courts’ post-tensioned slab. Incorporating a two-stage system, water on the courts is shed to a center trench drain, accompanied by the waterproofing system on the structural slab and roof drains.

ACH Foam Technologies’ molded polystyrene rigid foam is a lightweight, cellular plastic material that is incredibly strong. The compressive strengths of Foam-Control® PLUS+ products range from 15 pounds per square inch (psi) all the way up to 60 psi.  With the structural slab exposed, a series of spot elevations were taken to establish the exact insulation profile to fill the void between the roof and the post-tensioned slab. Defining the thickness of each piece of foam controlled positive drainage of water off the courts without approaching structural limitations.

The Foam-Control® PLUS+ 600 platform was approximately ten-inches thick in the middle and tapered to ½” at the edges. The final deck height had to match the threshold of the plaza’s existing entry door, which couldn’t be changed, so each piece of foam across the whole roof was unique. Foam-Control® PLUS+ products are recyclable and contain no CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs or formaldehyde. Molded polystyrene costs less per R and per inch of thickness than other rigid foam insulations and Foam-Control® PLUS+’s R-Value is warrantied for 50 years.

Good architecture adds value to the people and places surrounding a project. The decisions made along the way define the results of the owner’s investment, challenging designers and builders to continually look for ways to maximize user benefits without adding expense to the project.  ACH Foam Technologies joins the project team as a resource committed to providing the most comprehensive information, service, and logistical support there is in molded polystyrene foam solutions.


Video: The WRB for Airtight, Vapor-Open Assemblies

Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Pro Clima’s SOLITEX MENTO 1000 is a robust, 3-ply weather resistive barrier that provides superior weather protection for insulation, plywood, OSB and exterior gypsum-board. It's extremely durable, and waterproof, outperforming conventional WRBs both in outward drying potential as well as airtightness. With its actively vapor-open, monolithic, TEEE film membrane this next generation material is our most commonly specified WRB.  SOLITEX MENTO 1000 is the robust next generation weather resistive barrier for airtight, vapor open assemblies.


Atlas Roofing Corporation Introduces Non-Hal Polyiso Insulation in ACFoam and EnergyShield Product Lines

Press Releases

Atlas® Roofing Corporation has announced the addition of ACFoam® NH and EnergyShield® NH to their current product lines. These new non-halogenated polyiso roof and wall insulation products contain no halogenated flame retardants, providing additional environmentally friendly options to their product offerings of sustainable roofing and wall insulations for architects, designers and builders.

ACFoam® NH and EnergyShield® NH product offerings are an ideal building envelope solution for projects that must meet strict specific environmental specification and customers seeking non-hal options. The Atlas® NH product lines offer a variety of benefits, including:

  • Living Building Challenge “Red List” Free, with Declare label and product database listing
  • Contribute toward LEED v4 credit requirements
  • California Department of Public Health (CDPH) VOC emissions compliant

“As a leader in polyiso manufacturing, we’re excited to introduce our non-hal technology and expand our ACFoam® and EnergyShield® roof and wall product lines,” said Greg Sagorski, Director of Technical Services of Atlas Roofing Corporation. “These new ACFoam® and EnergyShield® products provide the same great quality and performance needs customers expect, but with added benefits to meet more stringent environmental and sustainable building code goals.”

Beginning today, the following Atlas non-hal products are available:

  • ACFoam®-II NH (also available in tapered)
  • ACFoam®-III® NH (also available in tapered)
  • ACFoam®-Supreme NH
  • ACFoam®-Recover Board NH
  • ACFoam® Nail Base NH
  • ACFoam ® CrossVent NH
  • EnergyShield® NH
  • EnergyShield®CGF NH
  • Stucco-Shield® NH
  • EnergyShield® PanelCast NH

All literature and product packaging of Atlas NH products will be marked with a non-hal icon for easy and visible distinction.


Pierce Receives Cullen Award

Press Releases

Helene Hardy Pierce accepts the William C. Cullen Award. Photo by Jennifer Keegan.

Helene Pierce, F-IIBEC, VP of Technical Services, Codes, and Industry Relations at GAF, received the ASTM International William C. Cullen Award, bestowed by Technical Committee D08 on Roofing and Waterproofing. This award recognizes Pierce’s outstanding contributions and personal commitment to the field of roofing as exemplified by the distinguished accomplishments of William C. Cullen, who was also Pierce’s mentor. She is a Fellow of IIBEC (F-IIIBEC) who has served on the RCI Foundation board for nearly two decades, served on the IIBEC Interface Editorial Committee, and penned countless contributions to the journal. The award was presented by George Smith.


Improve Commercial Roof Performance With Staggered Insulation Layers

Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Selecting the right components for a project can dramatically improve the performance and longevity of the overall building. In a commercial roofing project, the chosen insulation and the installation technique are critical to a building’s resilience and thermal efficiency.

Photo: Hunter Panels

From a physics standpoint, energy flows from a region of high to low potential (from warm to cold). Therefore, a significant amount of heat can leave a building through an inadequately insulated roof assembly during heating season (winter) and enter a building through an inadequately insulated roof assembly during cooling season (summer). A building with an under-insulated roof assembly may require more energy to compensate for these heat gains and losses.

The benefits of installing multiple, staggered layers of rigid board insulation have been well known for years. Industry authorities, including National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Canadian Roofing Contractor Association (CRCA) and International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC), formerly RCI, Inc., have recognized these benefits; and contractors, designers and specifiers have followed the roofing industry’s long-standing recommendation for the installation of staggered insulation layers.

Using the optimal roof insulation product also will impact performance. Polyiso insulation offers key advantages in meeting stricter building standards and improving energy efficiency. Polyiso has a high design R-value compared to XPS, EPS, and mineral wool board. Lightweight and easy to trim, polyiso can be layered to reach the desired R-values without being cumbersome to install.

Why Are Multiple, Staggered Layers of Insulation Important?

In 2015, the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) increased the R-value requirements for the opaque thermal envelope in many climate zones across the United States. As a practical matter, most roofs will require two or more layers of insulation to meet the local energy code requirements. In the 2018 version, the IECC was updated with specific installation requirements for continuous roof insulation. The 2018 IECC explicitly calls for continuous insulation board to be installed “in not less than 2 layers and the edge joints between each layer of insulation shall be staggered” (Section C402.2.1 Roof assembly). 

Figure 1. Multiple, staggered layers of insulation can minimize air infiltration and reduce or prevent condensation in the roof system.

Staggering the joints of continuous insulation layers offer a number of benefits:

· Increased thermal performance/reduced thermal loss: The staggered joints on multiple layers of insulation offset gaps where heat could flow between adjacent boards. The staggered approach to installing insulation reduces thermal bridging in the roof assembly. A fact sheet on roof insulation published by Johns Manville (RS-7386) notes that as much as 8 percent of the thermal efficiency of insulation can be lost through the joints and exposed fasteners of installations that use only a single layer of insulation.

Photo: Hunter Panels

· Air intrusion: When conditioned air enters the building envelope, often because of pressure gradients, it carries moisture into the roofing system. This moisture will undermine optimal performance. A peer-reviewed study on air intrusion impacts in seam-fastened mechanically attached roofing systems showed that air intrusion was minimized by nearly 60 percent when the insulation joints were staggered between multiple layers of insulation. (See “Air Intrusion Impacts in Seam-Fastened, Mechanically Attached Roofing Systems,” by By Suda Molleti, PEng; Bas Baskaran, PEng; and Pascal Beaulieu, www.iibec.org.)

Additionally, by limiting the flow of air and moisture through a roof system, staggered layers of insulation in a roof assembly can reduce and/or prevent condensation. The condensed moisture if allowed to remain and accumulate in the system can damage the substrate and potentially shorten the service life of a roof. A properly insulated roof can also prevent the onset of condensation by effectively managing the dew-point within the roof assembly. 

· Resilient roof assemblies: Staggered joints can reduce the stress put on a single insulation layer and distribute that stress more evenly over multiple, thinner insulation joints. For example, in an adhered roof system, the installation of multiple layers of insulation can minimize the potential for membrane splitting. In this system, the upper layer(s) of insulation can protect the membrane from potential physical damage caused by fasteners that are used to attach the bottom layer of insulation to the roof deck.

· Ponding water: Roof slope is often created through the use of tapered insulation systems. These systems offer an opportunity to stagger the joints by offsetting insulation layers and improve overall energy performance of a system. If the added insulation layer is tapered, the slope provided can improve drainage performance of the roof. Rainwater that does not drain and remains standing, collects dirt and debris that can damage or accelerate erosion of roof covering. Integrating tapered polyiso system with staggered joints into a roof’s design will not only improve the thermal performance but also can improve drainage and thus overall longevity of the system.

· Puncture resistance: Roof cover boards are commonly installed to provide a suitable substrate for membrane attachment as well as protect the roof assembly from puncture and foot traffic. When using products like polyiso high-density roof cover boards, the joints should also be staggered with the underlying roof insulation. This ensures the benefits discussed above are preserved in systems utilizing cover boards.

Installation Best Practices Are Keys For Success

A properly designed roof system that utilizes high-performance polyiso insulation products is a strong foundation (or cover) for energy-efficient and sustainable construction. However, the designed performance can only be achieved through proper installation. Implementing industry best practices such as the installation of multiple layers with staggered joints will optimize energy efficiency of the system and will help ensure that the roof system performs during its service life.  

To learn more about the benefits and uses of polyiso insulation,please visit the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association website at www.polyiso.org.

For more information on continuous insulation for commercial buildings, visit the Continuous Insulation website.


R25 does not equal R20+5ci Why? Thermal bridging!

Energy Efficiency

R25 does not equal R20+5ci Why? Thermal bridging! The added R5ci reduces heat loss through both the wall cavity and the framing members. A cavity insulation only wall using R29 (2x8 framing) is equivalent to R20+5ci (2x6) or R13+10ci (2x4). The effect is even greater with steel framing – steel is more conductive than wood.

  1. Thermal Bridging: Brief explanation of thermal bridging and how FPIS continuous insulation can be used in better performing walls by reducing thermal bridging. 
  2. Fundamentals of Thermal Bridging: This presentation, adapted from a presentation given by Jay Crandell P.E. at the 2018 ASHRAE Annual Conference, covers the basics of thermal bridging in wall assembly performance. It demonstrates methods of estimating the magnitude of the effect of thermal bridges using mathematical approaches to calculating assembly performance, and explains the pros and cons of various methods. 
  3. Thermal Bridging in Building Thermal Envelope Assemblies: Repetitive Metal Penetrations: Thermal bridging can significantly impact whole building energy use, condensation risk, and occupant comfort. This presentation contains an overview of the various types of thermal bridges and their impacts and a discussion of repetitive metal penetrations for cladding and component attachments. 

  4. Repetitive Metal Penetrations in Building Thermal Envelope Assemblies: The focus of this report is on uniformly distributed point thermal bridges. The main goal is to provide data to help better understand the implications and support an equitable, performance-based treatment of such thermal bridges for common building assembly conditions and variations. 

Unfortunately, thermal bridging has generally been ignored and unregulated, except as these bridges occur due to framing members within assemblies, as shown in the graphic. Unaccounted for thermal bridging can account for 20-70% of heat flow through the building’s opaque envelope. Reasonable efforts to use improved details to mitigate point and linear thermal bridges can significantly improve building envelope performance. For buildings with significant types or quantities of thermal bridges, it is generally more beneficial to mitigate thermal bridges than to increase insulation amounts.

Continuous insulation is a very efficient way to deal with thermal bridging pain.


Video: Matt Risinger Solves Thermal Bridge Issue with Innovative Wall Stud Framing System

Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

In this video, Matt Risinger travels to Minnesota to see a house framed with an innovative wall stud framing system that solves the Thermal Bridge issue, which is a pain point to deal with when using traditional 2x wood and steel stud framing.

Please review the graphic and the following links to learn more while asking yourself which of the mitigation strategies, defined below, are deployed by this new technology:

A few ways to mitigate clear field thermal bridges include:

  • Reduce “framing factor” where structurally feasible (wider frame spacing, double stud framing, etc.)
  • Use low conductivity structural materials
  • Apply continuous insulation over structure/framing members (minimize discontinuity at floor/wall/roof intersections)
  • Mount furring over (not through) continuous insulation layer
  • Use low conductivity fasteners or devices to attach cladding, furring, etc. to framing (e.g., stainless steel, carbon fiber, etc.)

You will not want to miss this Matt Risinger video.