Energy Efficiency and Building Science News

Detailing a Proper Drainage Plane for Stucco

Mon, 2017-10-16 21:29
Building Science

A recent article in the Journal of Light Construction provided the following installation detail for ensuring a sufficient drainage plane behind one-coat stucco:

According to the article:

“Cementitious backerboard provides a more durable substrate for synthetic stucco than foam insulation board. The backerboard must be installed over mesh furring strips to provide a drainage gap so that any water that gets through the stucco is directed to weep areas at windows and wall skirts.”

OSB Product Costs Up Almost 20% in Last Year

Mon, 2017-10-16 21:21
Raw Materials

The price of OSB increased 4.4% in September and has risen 19% and 38% since September and January 2016, respectively. The surge was in contrast with moderate increases in prices paid for gypsum products (+0.3%) and ready-mix concrete (+0.2%). The price of softwood lumber fell 0.9% in September, according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

After declining by a total of 4.1% in June and July, the OSB price index has increased 7.5% over the past two months.

More recent data published by Random Lengths shows an even steeper increase over the past year in the price paid by end-consumers (e.g. builders and remodelers) for OSB.

New Study: Sustainable Home Construction Gaining Traction

Mon, 2017-10-16 20:49
Building Science

Dodge Data & Analytics and NAHB recently published a new study, Green Multifamily and Single Family Homes 2017 SmartMarket Brief, that suggests energy efficient and sustainable construction is rapidly gaining traction among residential builders. From the report:

Click on the link below to download the full report.

AttachmentSize green_multifamily_and_sf_homes_2017_smartmarket_brief_fff.pdf4.65 MB

Demilec Recognized for Building Product Innovation

Mon, 2017-10-16 20:33
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Demilec, one of North America’s largest manufacturers of spray foam insulation and polyurea products, has earned Home Builder Executive magazine’s 2017 Gold Innovation Award for its industry leading product developments, including Heatlok HFO High Lift spray foam insulation and Heatlok Air Barrier System (ABS). The award recognizes companies that promote excellence in homebuilding practices by instituting new products, initiatives and technologies into the marketplace and communities. 

“This is the second consecutive year that Demilec has been recognized as one of the top industry innovators by Home Builder Executive. Earning this award encourages us to keep surpassing market expectations while we find new ways to protect the environment and save our customers most valuable resource — time,”  said Doug Brady, Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Demilec. 

Demilec’s Heatlok HFO High Lift is the company’s first product formulated with Honeywell’s Solstice Liquid Blowing Agent, a hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) molecule that reduces its Global Warming Potential (GWP) to 1 -- 99.9% lower than the HFC blowing agents it replaces. With its high-performing green components, Demilec’s Heatlok formula can earn commercial and residential projects up to ten LEED certification points.

In another first for Demilec and the industry, Heatlok ABS is the only complete air barrier and spray foam insulation system. Previously, architects and general contractors were faced with conflicting information and no single authority about membranes and spray foam insulation. Demilec has taken a much-needed systems approach to material testing and installation to now offer architects and contractors perfectly-matched spray foam insulation and air barrier materials that have been independently tested and approved as a single system.

Additionally, Heatlok ABS creates a solid airtight barrier against air infiltration and exfiltration thereby minimizing issues associated with energy loss and condensation.


Chemours’ Blowing Agent Wins Top Polyurethane Award

Mon, 2017-10-16 18:32
Building Science

The Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced that Chemours’ Opteon™ 1100 won the 2017 Polyurethane Innovation Award. Chemours’ winning entry, one of three finalists, was announced during the closing session of the 2017 Polyurethanes Technical Conference in New Orleans, La.

“CPI commends Chemours for winning the 2017 Innovation Award,” said Lee Salamone, senior director of CPI. “Chemours’ pioneering application of polyurethane chemistry is a testament to our industry’s commitment to technological progress and the hard work, expertise and creativity of so many individuals.” 

Chemours’ Opteon™ 1100 is a unique hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blowing agent that addresses critical polyurethane industry needs, including formulation stability and flexibility with existing components, excellent materials compatibility, exceptional long-term insulation performance and a sustainable solution to meet changing regulatory requirements for low GWP products.

“Chemours is very excited and proud to be the 2017 CPI Innovation Award winner,” said Joyce Wallace, North American Marketing Manager for Chemours. “Opteon 1100 is an excellent example of true innovation that will take the PU industry to new heights – innovation for our customers and innovation for the world, keeping us warmer in the winter and allowing us to choose solutions that are better for our environment." 

This year’s Polyurethane Innovation Award finalists also included BASF’s Irgastab® PUR 70, an amine-free, aromatic solvents-free, anti-scorch system for Polyol and PUR foams, and Covestro’s PUReWall™, a new spray polyurethane foam (SPF) formulation that allows for residential wall panel production. 

“Each year, the CPI Innovation Award finalists represent our industry-wide drive to transform ideas into new products and technologies that enhance the quality of life,” Salamone said. “I’m thrilled to mark our 60th anniversary with such an incredible display of what’s possible when visionary members discover new applications of polyurethane chemistry.”

The 2017 Polyurethanes Technical Conference also featured 14 technical sessions, 18 posters and 73 exhibitors, as well as the Professional Development Program.The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $768 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for fourteen percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.


Group Creates New Rating System for Energy Efficiency

Mon, 2017-10-16 18:29
Building CodesBuilding ScienceEnergy Efficiency

An mpg-like rating for homes is here. For the first time in history, people can find out the expected energy use of any home in the U.S. This single piece of information conveys helpful insights including the expected cost of maintaining a home, the environmental impact of the home, and a proxy for how comfortable the home is likely to be. This information will become more widely available from more sources as real estate portals and multiple listing services increasingly offer energy information. This will help consumers satisfy the largest unmet need in housing—energy efficiency—and will create many opportunities for real estate agents, online home sites, contractors, and anyone who lives in a house.

As the market for this information grows, Rocky Mountain Institute is tracking best practices for communicating this information and will provide a state-of-the-market review on how the industry serves up this information.

Best Practices for Providing Energy Information

Below are the best practices that RMI recommends for real estate portals providing energy information for homes. These recommendations are specifically designed for portals that provide real estate information.

Cost Features

The portal should include an estimated cost of energy—which provides an understandable and actionable depiction of energy use—and an estimated total cost of homeownership—which helps consumers understand the full financial impact.

Display Features

The display should be clean, simple, and visually intuitive. Given the importance of this issue to consumers, it should be featured prominently on home listings.

Comparative Features

The information should include a visual comparison to similar homes, preferably with a neighborhood map or other form of browsable local comparison. The information should also be normalized for climate since the same home will have different energy usage depending on the climate in which it is located.

Action Features

To truly add value, the information should help residents connect with high-quality local contractors who can help further assess or upgrade their homes along with financing options that can support energy upgrades.


To help the market assess accuracy and create greater customer confidence, the portal should clearly offer access to information about the methods for determining the energy costs (minus any proprietary details). It should also indicate whether the information is based on on-site and third-party assessments of the energy performance that are more accurate than off-site algorithm-based estimates. And while homeowner input is very useful for providing information that is not otherwise available to off-site assessments, it should be clearly labeled so as not to be confused with unbiased third-party assessments with diagnostics.

Consumer Access

Ideally, energy information should be available for at least 90 percent of all homes in the U.S. market in order for the information to be institutionalized into the mortgage industry. To be truly accessible to consumers, the information should be available online and accessible to consumers directly, not just through intermediary gatekeepers for the information. And companies providing this information should actively promote its availability to consumers since most consumers do not know to look for it.

Additional Considerations

The industry debates the importance of size normalization as a best practice. Some energy information is presented in a way that removes size impacts as a comparison point, such as the energy use intensity (EUI) measure. This provides an apples-to-apples comparison when size is not relevant. But when considering total cost or carbon impacts, size is very relevant. In those cases, size normalization actually obscures a true comparison.

Privacy can also be a concern. However, the information provided in this market is asset information—an estimate of energy use based on the features of the house. It is not operational informational —data based on what current occupants are actually using in their homes. In this sense, the information relates to community infrastructure and not to private preferences or plug-loads. In other words, this information shows what’s been added to the city, not what goes on behind the curtains.

Finally, real estate professionals who are concerned about the impact of this information on their portfolio may be in for a pleasant surprise. A recent study by Elevate Energy shows that homes that provide energy information sell faster and for more money. This is a strong indicator of the market value of this information—customers care about energy and want to know what they’re dealing with.

State of the Market

To support the maturation of this emerging market of home energy information in the real estate industry, RMI will offer a regular state of the market report showing how different sites are providing this information, compared with the best practices outlined above.

It is important to note that the sites that provide information currently all receive this information from third-party vendors. Either the site or the vendors could enact these best practices, which should be provided in a manner that appears seamless to the user. The figure below shows which major real estate sites include the best practices outlined above.

Note that Estately and only provide information on homes currently listed for sale, while Redfin only provides information on un-listed homes at this time.

Welcome to the Future

As the world moves toward greater transparency of information, it is great to see tools emerge to help homeowners increase the comfort and value of their homes while also helping to curb energy waste.

We invite readers to check out your own home on one of the sites above, and compare with friends and neighbors. Early physicist Lord Kelvin said, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” Now that the measurement has broken open, let the improvements begin.


BASF Completes Purchase of Waterproofing Tech Company

Mon, 2017-10-16 17:55
Building ScienceBusiness

Following the approval of local government authorities, BASF has completed the acquisition of GRUPO THERMOTEK, a leading waterproofing systems supplier based in Monterrey, Mexico. The companies had announced the transaction on April 24, 2017. Through this acquisition, BASF’s Construction Chemicals division strengthens its channels to market and builds on its portfolio of brands for construction professionals.

THERMOTEK, founded as a privately held company in 1992, is well- positioned in the waterproofing systems market in Mexico. Its products are designed to offer maximum quality on virtually every type of substrate and include resinous and dispersion-based materials as well as modified asphalt sheet membranes. The company has more than 200 distributors in the region and employs approximately 500 people.

The transaction includes the well-known THERMOTEK and CHOVATEK brands, and others, which will continue to be sold through retail channels, material houses and local hardware stores.

“The acquisition of THERMOTEK enables us to continue on our growth path by bringing a robust portfolio of construction solutions to a broader customer base,” said Michael Stumpp, Managing Director BASF Mexicana S.A. de C.V. and Central America. “This is an exciting time for our business and we welcome the THERMOTEK employees to the BASF family.”

At BASF, the THERMOTEK business will be led by Luis Carlos Mendoza who will be responsible for day-to-day operations as Director General. Former CEO David Wolberg will remain involved for a temporary period to ensure a smooth transition for the business and customers.

“BASF and THERMOTEK share a common core value of customer-centricity,” Mendoza said. “As we integrate the THERMOTEK business into BASF, our top priority is to meet and exceed customers’ expectations.”


How are WRBs & Insulation Shaping Building Exteriors?

Mon, 2017-10-16 17:53
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The building enclosure is crucial to an energy-efficient, high-performing building. Today, facility managers are pushing toward greater energy efficiency and are challenged with the reality of aging infrastructure. Technology updates and changes in roofing, fenestration, and cladding products and strategies respond to the energy-efficient and high-performance demands of the marketplace.

Over the years, the industry has moved from heavy, bulky masonry buildings with limited fenestration and minimal roof insulation, to light-weight and open buildings with lots of glass and highly insulated roofs. Today, building enclosures comprise many different products, each intended to serve a particular and sometimes singular function, with specific and sometimes proprietary installation requirements. As a result, the building enclosure is now more complicated than ever to design and construct. For facility managers, understanding the technology developments in building enclosures and specific benefits and considerations of these advancing technologies is an important step to making sure to pick the right products for a particular building.

 1. Cool roofs

For years, most roof surfaces were covered with a black or dark-colored roofing membrane, given the durability of tar and asphalt in traditional roofing materials. But dark-colored roof surfaces increase in temperature when exposed to the sun. The higher surface temperatures increase heat gain through the roof system, consequently raising the cooling loads and reducing the roofing system’s overall energy efficiency. To address this inefficiency, the industry evolved to include light-colored roofing membranes that reflect the sun’s rays and absorb less heat to remain “cooler” than their predecessors.

 Use of cool roofing systems is now a requirement of many jurisdictions and other benchmarks that dictate roofing selection, and energy modeling demonstrates tangible energy savings are available, especially in cooling climates. Reducing the in-service temperature of the roofing membrane also reduces thermal cycling of the roofing system, improving durability. The reflective benefits of cool roofs can diminish over time as the roof gets dirty — so regular cleaning may be required to keep the energy benefits intact.

 2. Green roofs

Planting vegetation over occupied space has been common in the industry for many years. However, it was historically primarily at the plaza deck level, essentially on grade, often without critical underlying occupied space. In 2004, Chicago became the first city to mandate sustainable features on buildings receiving city financial assistance. This quickly resulted in a green roof phenomenon that has seen more than 5 million square feet of green roofs installed throughout the city. The trend is not limited to Chicago; green roofs are now common throughout the United States and the world. They are a good way to control stormwater runoff, reduce cooling and heating loads, and provide opportunities for occupant enjoyment and leisure.

The vexing problem for green roofs has always been tracing water leakage through the system given the overburden removal required to access the waterproofing membrane. To help reduce this potential issue, the industry has responded with innovations ranging from embedding permanent grids into the waterproofing membrane for electric conductance testing, to fully-adhering or compartmentalizing the waterproofing membrane to the roof deck to isolate leakage to confined areas. Further improvements in the overburden systems have allowed these roofs to be installed on new and existing buildings in thin, tray systems that reduce the added weight on the structure and simplify future removal of overburden. As a result, green roofs are more reliable and less costly, and therefore, more likely to be incorporated into projects. 

3. Blue roofs

Blue roofs are a new type of roofing system that attenuate peak stormwater flow from the roof to accommodate the limited capacity of an existing antiquated infrastructure, manage storm runoff in highly developed areas, or control more frequent high-intensity storms resulting from climate change. Blue roofs can be designed as either conventional roofing systems or as an inverted roof membrane assembly (IRMA). These systems temporarily store and slowly release precipitation into the municipal stormwater system. To achieve a functioning and well-performing blue roof, designers are challenged to determine the approach that is best suited for the particular needs of each project.

 Roof layout options include no-slope systems with greater storage capacity, low-sloped roofs with potentially more limited storage capacity, and low-sloped roofs with check dams to increase capacity and facilitate some drainage. Blue roofs create two significant issues. First, they increase the load on the structure due to the weight of the stored water. Second, retaining water on the roof can accelerate deterioration of the roof membrane and increase the risk of water leakage.

To avoid these concerns, many designers are employing stormwater detention tanks to slow the release of stormwater. However, this requires back-of-house space. As designers and contractors continue to gain more experience with blue roof technology, roofing continue to innovate approaches for temporarily storing stormwater, and the use of these systems is expanding to more urban jurisdictions concerned with stormwater management. Owners should expect to see blue roofs and stormwater management strategies implemented on more projects in the future. 

4. Windows and glazing

The current, market-driven, design trend mandates large areas of fenestration to create desirable space for building occupants. Buildings with large areas of glazing now provide significantly better thermal performance compared to highly-glazed buildings constructed decades ago that used solid metal frames and monolithic glazing. Energy-efficient improvements to fenestration systems currently on the market include thermally broken frames, insulating glass units (IGU), triple-pane glass, suspended film glass, dynamic glass (electrochromic, thermochromic, and others), and double-glazed wall systems.

Thermal break technology has improved, resulting in stronger materials that can more readily accept bigger IGUs and triple-pane glass, reducing conductive heat loss and improving performance. Improvements in IGU technology with low-e coatings and thin films, high-efficiency spacers, triple-pane glass, or suspended film glass help reduce solar heat gain and decrease the U-value of glazing systems. Self-shading glass automates the process for reducing glare, reducing solar heat gain and increasing comfort for the users. Creative use of these options combined with inventive planning of interior space brings light further into the building. Integrating daylight controls further limits energy use.

However, the trend to provide large areas of fenestration runs counter to changes in the model building codes that are discouraging large glazing areas on building enclosures. As mechanical system improvements approach a point of diminishing returns, the burden of energy-efficient design falls more prevalently on the building-enclosure design. Even with improvements, glazing systems are still significantly less energy efficient than the opaque cladding systems that the model building codes favor. Therefore, further energy reduction will need to come from improved fenestration systems as long as the trend toward large amounts of glazing on buildings continues.

5. Weather-resistant barriers

Current building codes require that designs for enclosure systems include waterproofing, vapor retarders, and air barriers, which have a significant impact on durability and energy efficiency. The waterproofing prevents bulk, liquid water from infiltrating to the interior of the building. The air barrier and vapor retarder both prevent water vapor migration but affect different transport mechanism of that migration. Vapor retarders prevent the diffusion of water vapor through materials, and air barriers prevent vapor migration via bulk air transport. Air barriers also have a direct effect on energy consumption by preventing transport of conditioned air through the enclosure.

The location of vapor retarders relative to the insulation is important, as vapor retarders in the wrong location may result in condensation within assemblies. The continuity of air barriers around the entire enclosure is important because air transports large volumes of moisture quickly, increasing the potential for condensation under some conditions. Air barriers also prevent the migration of conditioned/unconditioned air through the enclosure, which in turn helps the building be more energy efficient.

Using one membrane to create the air barrier, vapor retarder, and waterproofing membrane (collectively, the AVB) is potentially a good strategy.

Manufacturers of AVBs have continued to innovate and bring new products to market, and contractors continue to look for ways to more efficiently and effectively install the products. Further, designers and owners are becoming more aware of how critical the AVB is to provide energy efficiency, mitigate water and air leakage, and prevent condensation. Significant developments in technology and construction practice include:

• AVBs that meet fire code. Historically reliable and durable AVBs are made from self-adhered, rubberized-asphalt sheets, which when combined with combustible insulation materials, do not meet current NFPA requirements. As a result, AVBs have been redeveloped to include aluminum facers and/or to have a butyl backing in lieu of rubberized asphalt. The performance of these new membranes has been mixed and changes continue to be made, resulting in a limited track record of successful performance, which makes AVB selection difficult.

• Fluid-applied membranes to improve installation time and reduce cost. Although fluid-applied membranes can reduce construction time, they are also more dependent on installation workmanship to function properly, have a shorter track record, and undetermined durability. Integrating these materials with adjacent cladding systems can be challenging, requiring the introduction of a sheet membrane material to construct membrane transitions and terminations.

• More rigorous quality assurance programs during construction. These are designed to assess the performance of the AVB and its integration with cladding and fenestration systems. Owners and designers are more frequently requiring testing, including quantitative and qualitative testing of air barrier systems and transitions, water-infiltration testing of fenestration systems and the transitions, infrared thermography scans of exterior walls and roofing areas, and material adhesion testing. The growth in quality assurance programs is attributed to the understanding that performance issues with newer and untested systems are expected, and field testing is needed to increase the rate of success. Some of the increase in testing requirements can also be explained by the increased implementation of building-enclosure commissioning programs.

6. Cladding attachments and insulation

Thermally-broken cladding attachment systems that include integral thermal breaks in the subframing systems or are made of non-conductive materials help reduce the energy loss of the building. These systems are fairly new to the market and do not have a significant track record of long-term performance

Manufacturers are also innovating for single material systems, such as insulation (spray and rigid boards), to also perform as the waterproofing, air barrier, and vapor retarder. 

In some systems, the insulation is replacing the sheathing normally installed over cold-formed metal framing. These systems, while capable of passing testing when installed in laboratory conditions, are susceptible to water and air leakage in the field unless installed perfectly and even then are at risk as they age. Further, integration of fenestration and other penetrations through the system can be difficult, and in some cases, impossible to resolve reliably and durably. These systems simplify the construction of exterior wall systems and reduce cost but not without potentially compromising performance.

7. Green walls

Green walls are being adopted on more buildings as designers look use vegetation on vertical surfaces. Historically, green walls were limited to ivy growing up masonry buildings, which leads to damage to the masonry over time. Now, less aggressive plantings can be established to provide more green cover and help reduce rainwater runoff down walls, assist with cooling, especially on direct sun elevations, and provide a more pleasing aesthetic. Cladding systems can be designed to improve durability to the vegetation, and support structures can be designed to separate the planting and cladding. However, maintenance concerns similar to those of the green roofs exist for the wall system, including access to backup materials, and the need for periodic pruning to avoid vegetation growth over fenestration, which can be difficult for taller buildings.

8. Snow and ice protection

In the past few years, the number of reported cases of ice and snow falling from facades of relatively new buildings has increased. The issue is apparent on city streets in cold climates during and shortly after snow and has recently been the subject of news coverage. Some question whether the increase in these incidents is correlated to the increase in high-performing new buildings. Presently, the industry is researching this question. Given the attention and potential hazard that this issue presents, it has become a priority to better understand the underlying causes and possible remedies. The issue is complicated by the significant number of variables that affect the potential for falling snow and ice, including projections becoming more common in contemporary facades, design of thermally-efficient enclosures that limit heat loss from the interior (cooling the surface of projections), and various materials used, including metal and glass, which may not retain snow and ice as readily as cladding systems used in the past.

Some preliminary data is available to guide the discussion on some design approaches for mitigating falling snow and ice, but it is limited and the effectiveness of the solutions can be uncertain under some applications. We expect that the understanding of this issue will grow with continued research and discussions. Additional design guidance should be expected, but this issue is relatively new and will continue to challenge the industry for years to come. Building designers and owners should review their designs with consideration for these possible effects and incorporate retention, protection, or melting systems where the hazards are high.

To develop high-quality, energy-efficient building enclosures, building owners must embrace technological advances in enclosure materials and design. However, to reap the benefits of the advances without compromising durability or project budgets, the project team must understand the intended use, limitations, and potential for unanticipated results. If employed thoughtfully and with full knowledge of the benefits and limitations, building-enclosure technology can help building owners achieve their visions for high functioning, aesthetically innovative, and efficient building designs. Project teams must also recognize and acknowledge that the exterior enclosure can only do so much. Location, climate zone, siting, lighting, mechanical systems, and a myriad of other factors will also influence whether the building is truly energy efficient and high performing.


Infographic: Advantages of High-Density Polyiso Coverboards

Mon, 2017-10-16 17:40
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

High-Density Polyiso cover boards are an important component in roof systems, providing a substrate for roofing membranes and protection for underlying insulation. When compared to other options, High-Density Polyiso cover boards offer many advantages:

  • Can be shipped with approximately three times more square feet per truck load;
  • Are significantly lighter than alternatives of the same thickness;
  • Require less crane time and are easier to maneuver around the roof which can decrease the hoisting, loading and staging costs;
  • Are virtually dust-free during the cutting process, eliminating itchy residue;
  • Can be cut without specialized tools; and
  • Can be lifted by a single worker.

Hunter Panels Appoints Matt Peterson as Next GM

Mon, 2017-10-16 17:38

To help drive continued business growth and customer service, Hunter Panels will promote Matt Peterson (pictured at right) to general manager, effective January 1, 2018, succeeding Jim Whitton (pictured at left) who will retire at the end of the year. Hunter Panels is announcing the change now to ensure a smooth leadership transition over the next several months.

Peterson currently serves on the Hunter Panels management team in his role as director OEM/Private Label Sales. A veteran of the commercial roofing industry for 15 years, in a variety of sales positions of increasing responsibility, Peterson joined Hunter Panels in 2011 as Midwest regional manager.
“So many companies say they’re committed to customer service, but when I first came to Hunter Panels, I was blown away by the relentless focus on working hard to earn customers’ business,” said Peterson. “Our goal is to take care of the customer and help them grow their business. We do that with passion, responsiveness and being their polyiso resource. And, we are always asking ‘what can we do better for the customer?’ That’s truly something special to be a part of, and it will be a privilege to lead these exceptional folks.”

“Matt lives the Hunter mantra of ‘whatever it takes’ when it comes to customer service,” said, Jim Whitton, Hunter Panels vice president of sales and marketing. “His devotion to our company, customers and business partners, and years of experience in the building industry make him a natural choice to lead Hunter going forward.”

As one of Hunter Panels’ original employees, the retiring Jim Whitton “has played a crucial role in the company’s growth and its positive, customer-focused culture,” said Nick Shears, executive vice president, sales and marketing for Hunter Panels.


New Continuous Insulation Wall Guide Published

Tue, 2017-10-10 12:00
Building CodesBuilding ScienceEnergy Efficiency

A new guide has been published on the Department of Energy’s Building American Publication and Product Library that addresses various means of applying foam sheathing on framed walls in moderate climate zones.  “Construction Guide: Next Generation High Performance Walls,” includes a variety of approaches that integrate foam sheathing with other building envelope components (e.g., windows and cladding) for thicknesses of sheathing up to 1-1/2”.

The guide also addresses air barrier and water vapor retarders for use with foam sheathing. It recommends Class III or Class II smart vapor retarders like kraft paper, and discourages the use of Class I poly vapor retarders.  The document also addresses the use of foam sheathing as a water-resistant barrier (WRB) or its use in combination with a separate membrane WRB.

This publication complements the more comprehensive work that is contained in  wall design guidance materials that was created for the Foam Sheathing Committee (FSC) by the Applied Building Technology Group. The goal of this collaboration between the FSC and ABTG is to help make engineering evaluation, specification and implementation of innovative foam sheathing products easier.  In addition, several tools, technical best practices and research on insulating residential and commercial wall systems can be found here and here.

For more information, please email us with your questions.

New Study: Sustainable Home Construction Gaining Traction

Mon, 2017-10-09 22:58
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

According to a new study conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics in partnership with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), green construction is rapidly gaining traction among both single family and multifamily homebuilders across the U.S. in 2017.

At least one third of single family and multifamily builders who were surveyed said that green building is a significant portion of their overall activity (more than 60 percent of their portfolio). By 2022, this number should increase to nearly one half in both the single family and multifamily sectors. Within this group, nearly 30 percent of multifamily builders fall into the category of "dedicated" green builders (more than 90 percent of their portfolio). On the single family side, the percentage of "dedicated" green builders is nearly 20 percent, but that share is expected to grow sizably by 2022.

"These findings show that green building has become an established part of the residential construction landscape," said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas. "It is no longer a niche business; our members recognize the value of building green and are incorporating these elements into their standard business practices."

Increasing energy efficiency continues to be the most common method of improving the performance of a green home, followed by creating a healthy indoor living environment.

"As consumers become more familiar with the impact that their homes can have on their health and well-being, we wouldn't be surprised to see the influence of this factor continue to grow," said Steve Jones, Dodge's Senior Director of Industry Insights Research. "Homes are following the larger trend that Dodge has been tracking across commercial and institutional sectors for healthier buildings to become an increasingly important part of being sustainable."

The report also found that a considerable number of builders are developing net zero homes or plan to build net zero homes in the near future. Among those surveyed, 29 percent of single family home builders have built a net zero home in the past two years, and 44 percent expect to do so in the next two years. Builders see increased customer demand and a competitive advantage as the top two drivers to develop net zero homes.

Another reason for the rise in net zero homes is the increasing use of renewable technologies, especially solar photovoltaic panels. In two years, the percentage of builders who used these panels increased from 19 to 23 percent. Nearly half (43 percent) of the builders surveyed expect to use this technology in the future.

Other SmartMarket findings suggest the single family green home market is maturing. For one, the report found that home builders are less concerned about higher start-up costs than in previous studies. There was also a decline among people who think consumers will not pay additional costs for green building. Finally, between one half and two thirds of respondents say seven different drivers are pushing them to build green, instead of one or two drivers as in the past. In fact, these top drivers, selected by between 64 and 57 percent of single family builders, include customer demand; greater availability and affordability of green products; the prospect of producing a higher quality home; appraisers recognizing greater value in green homes; government or utility incentives; and changes in codes, ordinances and regulations.

Multifamily builders see government or utility incentives; customer demand; and changes in codes, ordinances, and regulations as the top drivers for future green building activity. With respect to green building obstacles, multifamily builders are most concerned about the costs associated with green; higher start-up costs; and the unwillingness of consumers to pay more for green construction. Single family builders agree about the challenge of consumers not being willing to pay, the top obstacle for them.

2018 Spray Foam Convention Details Announced

Mon, 2017-10-09 21:27

The Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), the educational and technical resource to the spray polyurethane foam (SPF) industry, today announced key features of The Sprayfoam Show 2018 Convention & Expo to be held January 29 – February 1 in Mobile, Alabama. The nation’s largest event dedicated to Spray Polyurethane Foam will feature four full days of educational sessions, an exhibit hall, a prestigious industry awards ceremony, professional certification programs, an annual golf tournament, an all-new Sprayfoam Education Stage, a Sprayfoam media area, among many other special events and features.

“This is the industry’s official, must-attend event of the year,” said John Achille, president of the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance, who hosts the event each year. “Our attendance is expected to exceed 1,200 and will include key constituents across all sectors of the industry including manufacturers, contractors, architects, equipment providers, and other important stakeholders.”

The Sprayfoam Show 2018 Convention & Expo’s robust event agenda includes a 50,000-square-foot exhibit hall showcasing more than 95 booth displays; a four-day educational program including more than 30 break-out sessions; the 13th Annual Industry Excellence Awards; SPFA Annual Member Awards, honoring members who have demonstrated significant dedication to the betterment of the organization and industry at-large; the Annual Golf Tournament; an all-new Sprayfoam Education Stage; VIP events; member and contractor-only events; an entertainment filled Closing Reception and Networking Party. 

The SPFA will offer Professional Certification Program testing onsite at Sprayfoam 2018 on January 29th and 30th. Testing will be administered to individuals active in the installation of SPF in roofing and insulation, as well as to contractor and supplier companies, with the ability to gain professional accreditation on-site. Testing is offered as part of the internationally recognized ISO 17024 compliant program built to advocate best practices and safety in the installation of SPF. Due to an abundance of PCP scholarship sponsors the challenging Field Exams needed to obtain the Master Installer certification will be offered for free to candidates at the show for the third year in a row. Interested parties should visit The Sprayfoam Show website or contact SPFA PCP Director of Certification Kelly Marcavage at directly. Space may be limited.

The prestigious 2018 National Industry Excellence Awards, celebrates and recognizes the industry’s best-in-class product applications and Spray Polyurethane Foam projects. The awards ceremony luncheon will be held on January 31st.  Awards will be granted in several key categories including: Residential Wall SPF; Commercial Wall SPF; Roof SPF Projects Less Than 40,000 Square Feet; Roof SPF Projects More Than 40,000 Square Feet; Elastomeric Roof Coatings (a new category); Specialty Applications.

“A lot of business is conducted at this event each year,” said Kurt Riesenberg, executive director of the SPFA. “And with professional certification opportunities, national awards and numerous educational, networking and entertainment offerings provided onsite, it really does draw the leading industry players from all over the United States, and even abroad.” 

The Sprayfoam Show 2018 Convention & Expo event will be held at the Arthur R Outlaw Convention Center. The two official hotels serving event attendees are the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel and the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa.


How Foam Insulation Increases a Building’s Resiliency

Mon, 2017-10-09 21:00
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

This year, ‘resiliency’ emerged in the building landscape as more than a buzzword. Many regions around the world are increasingly subject to the rigors of various impacts, including extreme weather, population shifts, disease, power or communication disruptions, and financial shocks. Urban and rural spaces alike require structures able to withstand volatile stresses while reducing the additional resources, time, and labor needed to rebuild and relocate. Resilient structures necessitate innovative materials that can not only endure stress, but also return to a functioning, usable state. For example, a bridge is resilient if the materials used can expand and contract with cold weather, high winds, and changes in traffic patterns. Specific insulation materials can add strength to walls; they help eliminate the movement of air and moisture while increasing a wall’s resiliency.

Last year, the Resilience Building Coalition, which includes the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), American Institute of Architects (AIA), CSI, and 37 other leaders of America’s design and construction industry, released its first progress report, introducing a set of principles to keep the conversations around resiliency going.

The manufacturing community also recognizes advanced materials are helping builders lead in their resiliency plans and goals. Chemical manufacturers are creating and enhancing various ‘ingredients’ that allow structures to better stand up against natural disasters, inclement weather, and the test of time. This article takes a deeper look at some of the latest materials chemical manufacturing companies are developing to increase building resilience.

Chemistry of insulation
Over the past year, communities of all sizes have been impacted by devastating floods across the United States. Along with immeasurable suffering, these events can also cost billions in damages. To read more about floodproofing measures, see the article “Time to Rethink Floodproofing: Recent Floods Have Shown Importance of Deployment Speed,” by Brian Shaw, CFM, in the August 2017 issue of The Construction Specifier.) Where properties are likely to be flooded, particularly in places close to rising sea levels or floodplains, insulation becomes incredibly important.

Certain types of wall insulation are formulated to increase a property’s resilience when faced with uncontrollable natural events. In the event a building is exposed to flood waters, the cavity or solid wall insulation with foam insulation may not be damaged, or will be less likely to need removal or replacement.

Sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF) was created through the work of chemists in the late 1930s. Chemist Otto Bayer, along with his colleagues, pioneered the chemistry of polyisocyanates—a technology used to create polyurethanes. This new material was so versatile it was employed for everything from shoes to cushions to industrial applications (even as a replacement for rubber during World War II). Since then, a variety of monomeric and polymeric isocyanates, polyethers, and acrylics have been introduced for use in the formulation of polyurethane. These components are mixed to form a rigid, cellular foam matrix. The resulting material is an extremely lightweight polymer with high-performing insulating properties.

A wall with sprayfoam has a higher racking strength, or ability to maintain its shape under duress, than a wall assembly without this insulation material. The bond SPF forms to the roof can increase a building’s resistance to wind uplift, which can help reduce damage experienced during periods of high wind. SPF helps seal as well as conserve energy, serving project teams striving to meet advanced energy codes and contribute toward green building certifications.

With respect to modern residential trends, the phenomenon of tiny homes, micro-apartments, and prefab cottages continues to grow. Even as square footage dwindles, the technology needed to ensure occupants stay warm in cold weather and, in some cases, that homes can be easily moved in the case of severe weather conditions, is increasingly important.

In commercial applications, continuous exterior insulation solutions that provide thermal insulation, an air barrier, and a water-resistive barrier (WRB) offer many key benefits in terms of a building’s resiliency. For their part, manufacturers, trade associations, and other experts are conducting more in-field performance testing, as well as materials and life cycle studies, to ensure roofing and envelope systems better protect buildings and their occupants during storms and high wind. For example, one chemical manufacturing company utilized its own research and development in SPF in order to have its headquarters become the first property in New Jersey to achieve Double Platinum—the highest certification level for the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The company reported no leaks or issues following Hurricane Sandy as a result of its SPF roofing system.

Flex House
Recent innovative building material techniques can be seen in the Flex House by Shelter Dynamics—a modular home built to achieve net-zero energy usage and serve as a showcase for products that improve water usage and indoor air quality (IAQ). At less than 71 m2 (760 sf), the Flex House is less than half the size of the average home built last year. Its unique curved roof and closed-cell SPF insulation increase its resiliency against weather events.

The proprietary sprayfoam insulation begins as two separate liquid components, expanding approximately 40 times once applied to effectively seal penetrations and gaps in the building envelope. A low exotherm property (i.e. heat goes out) results in more installed R-value with one pass of SPF. The newer generation of sprayfoam insulation is formulated with a blowing agent that has a global warming potential (GWP) of 1. This is a 99 percent reduction in environmental impact over many SPF blowing agents currently used.

In general, applying SPF to a building helps minimize any air and moisture penetration through the building envelope while also reducing energy consumption. It also affords extra flood protection. Closed-cell sprayfoam is a U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-accepted flood-resistant material, meaning it is capable of withstanding direct and prolonged contact with floodwater without sustaining significant damage.

In comparison, some standard types of cavity insulation would become waterlogged within the cavity. Under these conditions, when remediating flood damage, these materials can be expensive to remove and the walls take a lot longer to dry out. The chemistry behind closed-cell SPF allows it to retain molecular integrity and have low moisture absorption. The material’s use can make repairs considerably easier, less costly, and quicker to complete, enabling occupants to move back into their living or working spaces much sooner.

In severe weather or coastal climate zones, some cavity insulation materials may not be an option as the building’s exposure ratings may make them unsuitable. However, polyurethane foam’s moisture and vapor impermeability, combined with its superior resistance to heat transfer, make SPF products appropriate for multiple climate zones. In the Flex House example, Shelter Dynamics worked with the insulation manufacturer to ensure replicable results for future factory-built net-zero residential projects. The density and high adhesion of closed-cell sprayfoam help maintain the structural integrity of the house when transported to locations ranging from designated residential sites to rural wilderness areas.

Chemistry of vegetated roofing
Examples of extensive vegetated roof projects can be found in all climate zones. Cities like Los Angeles and Toronto are now requiring these assemblies as a percentage of the total roof space. With careful plant selection, sufficient drainage, and adequate structural support, vegetated roofs can be resilient against ice buildup in winter and droughts in summer. These systems conserve energy, mitigate urban heat island effects, and prolong the overall service life of roofing materials to provide greater thermal comfort during natural disasters or power outages. An extensive vegetated roof requires materials with high compressive strength for loadbearing, as well as long-term protection of waterproof layers.

An insulation material buoyed by chemistry advancements can be critical for such assemblies. NIBS’ Whole Building Design Guide suggests the following in the 2016 update of its “Extensive Vegetative Roofs Design Recommendations:”

The safest route is to locate the insulation above the waterproofing membrane in a protected roof membrane (PRM) or inverted roof membrane assembly (IRMA).

In an inverted roof, insulation is placed atop the membrane, enabling an ideal foundation for a terrace, garden, or vegetated roof on the top of a building. Extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation is often used as a layer in an IRMA as it does not absorb water. Chemically, XPS foam is a rigid insulation formed with the polystyrene polymer. It starts with solid polystyrene crystals extracted from oil; the extrusion of foamed polystyrene results in a hardened, strengthened material with uniformly small, closed cells and a smooth surface ‘skin.’

In terms of resiliency, polystyrene’s chemistry gives it high resistance to all forms of moisture, such as rain, snow, frost, and water vapor. These properties help XPS create an airtight building envelope that is durable under different conditions. Part of the perspective of resiliency includes preparing for the unexpected. An airtight building envelope with high thermal performance can enable occupants to withstand extended power outages and maintain normal interior climate temperatures longer with high thermal performance.

The special nature of IRMAs in vegetated roofing means insulation must be assessed for any effects of water absorption by diffusion and freeze/thaw cycles. Tests on XPS materials have shown even after 300 cycles of freezing and thawing, water pickup by this mechanism is less than one percent by volume. The material can also be formulated to achieve other specific attributes, including single extruded thicknesses up to 200 mm (8 in.) and different edge treatments. XPS’ unique chemistry makes it lightweight and easy to fabricate into various sizes and shapes for meeting specific design needs.

Giant’s Causeway visitor center
A new visitor center at the Giant’s Causeway, a designated UNESCO[13] World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland, displays how polystyrene chemistry can be used for two important building objectives—sustainability and resiliency. Designed by Dublin-based firm heneghen peng, the facility’s vegetated roof offers panoramic views of the scenic Antrim coastline. The geometry of the cast-in-situ reinforced concrete roof contains varying slopes, angles, and fold lines onto which the IRMA was placed, helping to restore the natural ridgeline of the surrounding landscape while also enabling the structure to blend into its surroundings. In the future, indigenous grasses and wildflowers will naturally take root and cover the roof. The vegetated roof also allows rainwater harvesting that, in turn, reduces surface water runoff. The rainwater and greywater recovery from the roof is then routed through a recycling system, allowing it to be used for toilet flushing and roof irrigation.

An XPS product specifically designed for roofs was used to provide durable, moisture-resistant insulation to support thermal efficiency demands, as well as growth of delicate ecology in the area. Such boards have low susceptibility to rot, meaning mold and fungal growth is minimized. Further, the material has shiplapped edges offering interlock between boards, helping prevent thermal bridging and acting against wind uplift—particularly important in exposed conditions such as coastal Ireland.

The material also provides support for drainage layers and growth mediums or soil substrates on vegetated roofs due to its compressive strength sustaining high design loads. Inverted roof insulation must withstand constant loadings from ballast material, for example, without suffering substantial alterations to thickness that could affect thermal performance. The closed-cell structure of XPS gives the material its mechanical strength and a design load of 130 kN/m2 (2700 psf), with a maximum deflection of two percent over 50 years. Declaring the design load of insulation products allows specification against the building’s long-term requirements. The design load offers an indication of a material’s mechanical strength over a building’s expected lifetime—an important metric when it comes to quantifying resiliency.

Chemistry of polycarbonate
In 1953, chemists synthesized a viscous substance that hardened inside a beaker. Despite these chemists’ best efforts, the substance could not be broken or destroyed. Today, this high-impact material is called polycarbonate—a type of plastic known for its resistance to cracking and breaking, as well as for allowing the internal transmission of light nearly in the same capacity as glass.

Since its creation, polycarbonate has been used in a variety of applications, ranging from lenses for glasses or goggles to medical devices. The material’s toughness is useful when impact resistance and/or transparency are specified or required in a product, such as the sheeting used to create bulletproof glass.

A transparent, amorphous thermoplastic, polycarbonate sheet can be made in various colors and as translucent or opaque. Its applications include vertical or overhead glazing, as well as canopies, façades, security windows, shelters, and skylights. Thin, ultraviolet (UV)-resistant coatings can be applied to polycarbonate when it is extruded, offering enhanced protection for both performance and aesthetics.

The material’s chemistry makes it resilient to impact and to damaging weather conditions such as strong UV rays or hail. Polycarbonate panels were among the first window glazing materials certified under Florida’s Miami-Dade County building codes. In lab settings, hurricane-tested polycarbonate storm panel windows can successfully resist the impact of a 2.4-m (8-ft) long 2×4 fired from an air cannon at 55 km/h (34 mph). In another test of panel strength, a polycarbonate barrel-vault skylight was impact load and high-pressure tested to 19,727 Pa (412 psf)—the equivalent to 571-km/h (355-mph) winds.

Improved technology in cellular polycarbonate has led to new polycarbonate panel profiles, which are wider, thicker (ranging from 6 to 41 mm [0.25 to 1.6 in.]), and have as many as seven polycarbonate cells (eight walls).

In addition to impact resistance, polycarbonate panels offer opportunities for daylighting—a key component of sustainable building. Daylighting strategies can allow a building to operate without electrical lighting for 91 percent of the annual daytime office hours. U-values as low as 0.16 can be achieved through cellular polycarbonate panel systems comprising double-panels with an air space between the sheets. The material can also be recycled after use or simply reused.

In addition to windows and glazing, polycarbonate can be used as a primary material for a resilient structure. Terrorism, crime, and natural disasters such as hurricanes have led to increased demand for high-performing materials in evolving spaces—particularly where people do business, travel, and gather in large crowds. Polycarbonate sheets with hard-surface coatings, on one or two sides, offer a high level of resistance to abrasion, graffiti, and weathering in infrastructure projects like airports, rail stations, and metro rails. These sheets are also capable of bearing significant weight and wind loads up to 225 km/h (140 mph).

For example, the Shanghai South Railway station, which represents one of the largest buildings with polycarbonate sheets ever constructed, was updated with 55,000 m2 (592,015 sf) of tailor-made sheeting to increase the railway’s resiliency and durability. Much of the polycarbonate roof of the station covers the upper departure area, which is around 300 m (984 ft) in diameter and capable of holding up to 10,000 people.

Polycarbonate laminate sheets have also been engineered to help defend buildings—and their occupants—against ballistics impact, forced entry, and bomb blasts. Modern polycarbonate laminates may withstand both physical attack and gunfire from weapons ranging from 9-mm handguns to 7.62-mm NATO high-power rifles, giving more resiliency to construction projects that include embassies, government buildings, and corporate headquarters.

A recent project spearheaded by architect William McDonough is one example of polycarbonate’s applications. Earlier this year, his team’s glacial-reminiscent ICEhouse (i.e. Innovation for the Circular Economy) took center stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, housing some of the planet’s most influential leaders. According to its creators, ICEhouse is designed to illustrate the value provided by robust technical ‘nutrients,’ or materials, such as polycarbonate, in combination with advanced architectural design.

The ICEhouse is primarily made of an aluminum frame structure and several forms of polycarbonate sheets for the cladding. This material is also filled with nanogel—synthetic polymers or biopolymers that are chemically or physically crosslinked—to aid in energy efficiency, which gives the building up to 50 percent energy savings compared to monolayer glass. The ICEhouse’s materials are assembled in ways that allow them to be easily disassembled and reused in another location. In fact, at the World Economic Forum, the walls and roof of the structure were assembled onsite by a crew of four workers in just a few days; the entire structure was completed in nine days.

With polycarbonate as a primary material, the project also has built-in resistance to damaging weather wherever it goes. The sheets are 250 times more impact-resistant than glass and virtually unbreakable; they are tested to perform from −40 to 120 C (−40 to 240 F) even in more extreme weather such as windstorms, hail, or snowstorms. The UV-resistant surfaces prevent penetration of both long-wave (UVA) and short-wave (UVB) sunlight radiation.

The ICEhouse also shows how innovative materials from chemical manufacturers can evolve in new ways to support sustainability philosophies. McDonough is one of the founders of Cradle to Cradle, a biomimetic approach that calls on designs to conserve materials and energy through products that are inherently recoverable, reusable, and recyclable. All the materials used in the ICEhouse either have been certified by Cradle to Cradle or are in the process of certification.

Chemistry of sealants
A structure’s resiliency often depends on the ability to create a strong seal throughout the building’s envelope. Without this, a structure loses its airtightness and watertightness. Building sealants provide important protection to any structure by performing three basic, essential functions: stick, flex, and persist. The first sealants come from humble beginnings, having originated 36,000 years ago in wall construction for dwellings in ancient Babylon and Jericho as naturally occurring bitumen (a type of asphalt).

Sealants in exterior joints are critical for resiliency, guarding against the passage of air and moisture into a building. This is important in maintaining occupant comfort and safety—for example, in the event of power outages during hurricanes in the south or blizzards in the northeast. Such extreme weather conditions can result in bulk water or moisture-laden air harmful to a building’s occupants, contents, and structural components.

Through experimentation and testing of a wide range of chemistries, chemists and materials scientists have developed sealants to meet resiliency goals for specifiers and builders. For example, newer hybrid sealants based on silyl-terminated polyether and polyurethane (STPe and STPu) chemistry are among the latest innovations in joint sealants. They have molecular chains (silyl) that, when modified, exhibit attributes of both urethane and silicone sealants, combining some of the strengths of each.

Both STPe and STPu sealants’ chemistries share many commonalities. The former tend to be lower-modulus sealants, making them ideal for exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) applications, while the latter are usually higher modulus than STPe, but lower than polyurethane. There is a place for both technologies in the market, depending on the performance demands of joint configuration.

Although they provide different benefits, sealants enable adherence to difficult substrates while providing high movement capability, resulting in long-lasting, watertight seals. Introduced to the North American market in the 1990s, hybrid sealants are considered to be the fastest-growing chemistry within the sealant product segment. In addition to STPu and STPe, a broad range of additives can be also incorporated into hybrid systems. Additional chemistry-based additives can give sealants the ability to bond properly in cold weather, allowing for the construction cycle to be extended and maintenance to be done in winter. The various formulations of sealants also allow for fine-tuning other variables, such as viscosity, UV and color stability, and shelf life.

In addition to STPe and STPu chemistries, SPF can be used as a resilient sealant material. These sealant foams are similar in content to wall foams, and are either single-component or plural-component sealants in cans for smaller cracks and finer applications. Foam sealants help reduce air leakage, which can result in lower utility bills, lowered greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and improved IAQ by decreasing infiltration of dust and allergens.

Foam sealants can also improve a building’s strength, essentially increasing the resistance to wind uplift in Category IV or V hurricane conditions. Testing at the University of Florida indicates closed-cell sprayfoam[18] used as an adhesive can increase a roof’s wind uplift resistance two to three times that of a typical roof. Testing at Clemson University’s Civil Engineering Department showed foam adhesive systems[19] can increase metal roof uplift resistance 250 to 300 percent versus traditional methods.

Dayton Towers
The resiliency-focused restoration of New York City’s Dayton Towers, a cooperative of seven 12-story buildings, took place in 2013. Established in 1964 to provide affordable options for middle-income residents as part of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD’s) Mitchell Lama program, Dayton is among the oldest and largest housing cooperatives in the city.

Unfortunately, the advanced age of the structure and years of exposure to salt-laden sea air created conditions in the buildings causing balconies and window seals to leak. This resulted in the corrosion of the reinforcing steel and created unsafe conditions. Adding to the complexity of the restoration project was the extensive 16,722 m2 (180,000 sf) of balconies spanning across all seven buildings, requiring major concrete repairs.

The renovation was further complicated by Hurricane Sandy, which impacted all aspects of the project, but also reinforced the need for longer-term protection for changing climates. The versatility of a hybrid seal with strong, primerless adhesion to the broadest range of substrates allowed the project to be completed and the building to be restored for the residents. Hybrid sealants were used on the metal-to-masonry window perimeter joints, offering long-lasting protection from harsh environmental conditions. Their versatility allowed contractors to utilize one sealant for the entire project without the need to switch between products.

Whether it is this article’s examples or other building materials such as flexible piping, wind-resistant roofing, laminated glass, and projectile-resistant doors, the chemical industry will continue to innovate materials for resilient architecture and design.  

Todd Sims is the director of value chain outreach at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), where he manages outreach to the building and construction sector in support of safe, efficient, sustainable, and resilient buildings. An active member of the High-performance Building Caucus, Sims worked previously at the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), where he developed building energy policies; he also represented the 56 governor-designated state energy officers’ interests in all matters of building energy policies before the federal government, industry stakeholders, and the utility sector at the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO).

Covestro Recognized as ‘Company of the Year’ by ICIS

Mon, 2017-10-09 20:31
Energy Efficiency

Covestro has been named the ICIS Company of the Year, based on its 2016 business and financial metrics.

The accolade is awarded by weekly global publication ICIS Chemical Business, which is part of ICIS, the world’s largest petrochemical market information provider. 

The ICIS Company of the Year analysis is based on year-on-year growth in sales, profits and margins for the leading global chemical producers, also taking into account the absolute level of returns at the operating and at the net level relative to sales and total assets.

“We congratulate Covestro for a stellar financial performance in its first full year as a public company in 2016 where adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBITDA) rose 41,9% year on year and the stock price more than doubled even amid concerns about potential overcapacity in polyurethane intermediates,” said Joseph Chang, Global Editor of ICIS Chemical Business.

“The company performed particularly strongly in its debut year and the gains made in profits and returns ensured that it topped the detailed ICIS analysis of financial metrics collected for the ICIS Top 100 Chemical Companies listing,” said Nigel Davis, ICIS Insight Editor.

In 2016, Covestro’s net income jumped 132% to 795 million Euro despite a 1.5% decline in sales to 11.9 billion Euro. It registered core volume growth of 7.5% amid a challenging pricing environment.

“It goes without saying we are honored to be awarded Company of the Year by ICIS, which is at the same time a huge compliment to all Covestro employees worldwide,” says Patrick Thomas, Covestro CEO. “The first six months of 2017 were very positive for Covestro and underscore our strong position in our customers’ industries across key regions. Our performance is underpinned by the consistently strong demand for our products leading to ten consecutive quarters of EBITDA growth as of June 30, 2017. We will continue to be committed to generating value for our shareholders by further focusing on R&D and innovation.”

The ICIS Company of the Year is the 3rd part in the ICIS Top 100 Chemical Companies series, which comprises the Top 100 listing as Part 1 published in the September 1 issue, and the Regional Leaders as Part 2 published in the September 8 issue of ICIS Chemical Business magazine.

An Insulator’s Guide to Home Insulation

Mon, 2017-10-09 20:16
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The best way to reduce the heat transfer from and to your home is with insulation materials. Insulation helps to form the thermal envelope of a house and can be categorized by its composition, form, structural contribution and more. Homes that are being constructed from the ground up can have insulation implemented in all areas of the house and will reap the benefits from day one. Insulation can also be inserted in older homes to provide a more comfortable indoor condition, reduced energy bills, better sound barrier and much more.

There are many types of insulation materials that one can consider. The materials used also depend on the area of insulation. Common areas for insulation implementation are in walls, attics, floors, crawlspace, and basements. Each material has a different R-value which depends on the thickness and density. Insulation material with a high R-value will better insulate from heat and cold. 

Insulation in walls

Insulation added during construction is more cost-effective than when retrofitting insulation to an existing home. There are many insulation materials to choose from when building a new home that will increase the R-value of the home. Concrete blocks, concrete forms, vacuum insulated panel (VIP) and panels that come with insulated are available for construction purposes.

Blown-in insulation is the fastest way to insulate a home during remodeling. During the process, holes are drilled from the exterior to the interior wall cavity. An applicator hose gets connected to a foam container which will inject the foam directly into the wall cavity. Inside the walls, the space around all obstacles gets filled with foam which then hardens within a minute to form a styrofoam consistency. The holes get patched up again to match the exterior look of your home.

Insulation in attics

Before the insulation process can begin, all air ducts should be sealed and covered to avoid energy loss. Blown-in dry cellulose can be used as insulation which merely is blown on accordingly to meet the R-value which is specified locally. Other forms of insulation can be rolled out in the open space of the attic and can come in the forms of wool and recycled newspapers for example that are made fire resistant. Fiberglass insulation in the kind of batts or loose fills is another favorite insulation material used in attics which fits between studs, joist, and beams.

Insulation in ceilings

The type of insulation used in ceilings will depend on the R-value needed and the amount of available space. When space in the ceiling is limited for example, a loose fill insulation is the best option as it gets blown onto the ceiling. Blankets, however, is a better option when there is enough room as it only gets rolled out in the open space. For joists above the ceiling, segments are recommended. However, a higher R-value insulation will be needed as heat loss through timber will occur. Homes with a cathedral ceiling, foil-faced batt insulation will offer the permeability raging required when there is no attics.

Insulation in basements

Basements and any other interior that needs insulation can almost use any insulation if it falls under the building code. You can insulate the interior as well as the exterior walls of the basement. New constructions make use of insulating concrete blocks and forms and will also reduce condensation problems and provide protection against moisture. In older homes, the insulation materials do not offer protection against moisture, but they do have fire-related coatings. Blankets, foam board insulation, loose-fill and spayed foam are some options when it comes to installing insulation in older homes. The type of insulation might depend on whether you have a finished or unfinished basement, sprayed foam insulation is, for example, a good choice for finished basements.

The point of insulation is to make your home more energy efficient. Therefore, it is wise to choose a team of professionals who are familiar with energy-efficient home constructions. A professional can also provide you more information on which products are a better fit for your home and which will give the best insulation as well as a better structural support.

After the insulation, one will experience a more comfortable temperature inside the home and with that comes a decrease in energy bills. Home insulation is seen as beneficial towards the environment as well because home cooling and heating systems gets used less, decreasing greenhouse gasses.

Dow Develops Foam ‘Gasket’ to Seal Drywall to Framing

Mon, 2017-10-09 19:37
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Dow Building Solutions, a global business unit of DowDuPont Specialty Products division, introduced a water-based, one-component sealant foam technology used to improve air sealing performance by creating a gasket between drywall and framing.  This unique formulation is compressible when cured, allowing a flat plane when drywall board is attached to the wall frame.  The flexible foam bead stays in place and is durable enough to withstand scraping and rubbing when drywall is slid into place.

Builders and installers can enjoy increased productivity, while meeting stricter energy codes, using GREAT STUFF PRO™ Gasket because it enables builder and trade friendly sequencing while delivering comfort and performance for the home owner.  This formulation does not expand like traditional one component spray foams, preventing the added work of trimming rigid foams when excess is applied, and because it’s compressible, it cannot be over applied.  Unlike mechanically fixed gasketing methods where the gasket often pops off or tears during drywall installation, this material is very tolerant of abrasive contact.

GREAT STUFF PRO™ Gasket was added to the GREAT STUFF product line to satisfy the contactor’s need for an easy-to-use product that does not interfere with drywall installation, but still allows effective air sealing performance. With air leakage accounting for 40% of energy loss in new homes, this durable, flexible foam solution allows for a smooth, even drywall installation. Additionally, the water-based solution helps professionals to work safely and sustainably via a low-VOC product with the additional benefit of water clean-up where over application, drips or spills might occur.  

“GREAT STUFF PRO™ Gasket gives contractors a reliable way to improve air-sealing performance between a home’s framing lumber and drywall,” said Linda Jeng, marketing manager, Building & Construction. “The unique gasket and dispense gun application allows the professional insulators to maximize energy savings without any changes to construction sequencing and deliver a quality home the builder can be proud of and the home owner can enjoy.”

The foam is intended to be applied to the face of framing lumber around the top plate, bottom plate and all rough openings and left exposed to air for cure. Depending on humidity, cure take 2 to 24 hours.


Private Equity Firm Helps Icynene Buy Lapolla for $160M

Mon, 2017-10-09 19:34
Building ScienceBusiness

Icynene U.S. Holding Corp. has agreed to buy spray foam producer Lapolla Industries Inc. for $160 million. The buyer is backed by backed by private equity firm FFL Partners.

Lapolla, located in Houston, manufactures spray polyurethane foam for insulation and roofing products that are designed to reduce energy consumption. Mississauga, Ontario-based Icynene also makes spray foam material. Icynene has installed insulation on more than 425,000 commercial and residential projects since it was formed in 1986.

The RSM US Middle Market Business Index declines amid policy uncertainty

 “Consumers are increasingly turning to high quality spray foam that forms an effective air barrier to meet their energy saving insulation needs," says Icynene CEO Mark Sarvary. Houlihan Lokey Inc. (NYSE: HLI) is advising Lapolla.

FFL Partners is a San Francisco-based middle-market private equity firm that invests between $50 million to $300 million in transactions. The firm was founded in 1997 and concentrates on the industrials, consumer, financial services, healthcare and business services sectors.

Demand for spray foam companies has been rising in the middle-market. Accella Polyurethane Systems LLC, a portfolio company of Arsenal Capital Partners, has reached a deal with Covestro LLC to acquire certain assets of the target’s spray polyurethane foam business. In 2016, Audax Private Equity-backed Innovative Chemical Products (ICP) purchased adhesives maker Fomo Products Inc.

Carlisle Buys Accella Polyurethanes Systems for $670M

Mon, 2017-10-09 19:29
Building ScienceBusiness

Arsenal Capital Partners, a leading private equity firm that invests in middle-market specialty industrials and healthcare companies, announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell Accella Performance Materials, a leading North American specialty polyurethane platform, to Carlisle Companies Incorporated for $670 million.

Accella offers a broad range of polyurethane products and solutions across many markets and applications globally. The company, headquartered in Maryland Heights, Missouri, has annualized revenue of approximately $430 million and operates out of 10 manufacturing facilities and seven R&D laboratories in the U.S., Germany, and China.

Roy Seroussi, a Principal at Arsenal, said, “Since our initial investment in 2012, Accella’s revenue and EBITDA increased by 7x and 8x, respectively, through a focused organic growth strategy and nine strategic acquisitions. The company has become a market leader in several rapidly growing end markets, such as spray foam insulation, as well as roofing solutions and polyurethane truck bed liners.”

John Televantos, a Partner at Arsenal, added, “Arsenal’s investment in Accella stemmed from our extensive experience in the polyurethane sector and focus on formulated materials that provide enhanced performance. We have been very pleased with our partnership with Andy Harris and the management team that helped us to transform and rapidly scale Accella. Accella is well-positioned to continue to grow under Carlisle’s ownership.”

Andy Harris, Accella’s President and CEO, commented, “We look forward to joining the Carlisle family of companies. Carlisle’s focus on culture, technology, markets and value creation are highly complementary with Accella and provide significant opportunities for our customers. I would like to thank Arsenal for its strong support of Accella’s growth and development over the past five years.”

This transaction represents the third exit in 2017 from Arsenal’s third fund, following the sales of Flowchem to KMG Chemicals in June 2017 and Certara to EQT in August 2017. Cumulatively these three exits represent $2.0 billion of enterprise value, a $1.5 billion increase from initial acquisition. Arsenal continues to invest in new portfolio companies from its $1.3 billion fourth fund raised in 2016, including recent acquisitions of PolyOne Corporation’s Designed Structures and Solutions business in July 2017 and of Cyalume Technologies in September 2017.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2017.


Transforming Roofing Industry Through Certification

Mon, 2017-10-09 19:24
Building Science

A certification program for roofing contractors scheduled to launch early next year has the potential to transform the roofing industry in United States forever, said Reid Ribble, CEO of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA).

The initiative, which begins with trainer instruction later this month, will be designed to elevate the industry to the level of other trade professions with existing national standards and protocols, like electricians and plumbers.

“We believe this will be the single most transformational event for the United States roofing industry in its history, because we’re finally going to put ourselves on par with virtually every other construction trade out there. And that’s significant,” Ribble said during an exclusive interview with Roofing Contractor from the stage of the Best of Success conference in Tucson last month.

After six years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ribble — a roofing contractor for more than three decades — said he believed it was time for roofers to change the perception of the industry both in congress and in households and boardrooms across the country. A national certification program that not only holds workers accountable for their skillset but lays out a career path will be a big step in that direction. It also could hold the key to the industry’s growing workforce shortage.

“We cannot draw enough people into this trade, and there’s a whole bunch of reasons for that,” Ribble explained. “One thing we do know is that if we make the industry more appealing from an education standpoint and make ourselves equal with the plumbers, electricians and other trades, we can make progress.”

Ribble said he budgeted $15 million and a team of NRCA administrative and educational staff to back the program, which should roll out to roofing contractors across the country beginning early next year.

The curriculum is still under development and will be audited to meet national accreditation standards. Ribble said when complete, the program will create certifications in 19 different roofing disciplines, starting with the most popular in both residential (steep slope asphalt shingles) and commercial (low slope systems like TPO and PVC) segments of the industry.

In order to achieve national accreditation, the program must pass rigorous benchmark and testing. Recertification will be required on a 36-month cycle, Ribble said, so roofing contractors will have time to adjust to technological advancements in products and installation techniques. Recertification programs will be administered online in an effort to keep costs to the contractor low.

Courses will be designed by region in order to better address specific issues such as weather and other market factors, and Ribble said there’s still room for regional or statewide training programs that are market specific for roofing contractors. He added that NRCA partners, including manufacturers and labor unions, are committed to the program and offering facilities to use as training centers.

In addition to buy-in from NRCA members and roofing contractors across the country, Ribble said the key to the program’s success will be shifting the mindset from certification that protects roofing companies to a system that protects roofing consumers.

“How do we as an industry change our brand so that consumers actually trust us?” he asked.

“The bulk of the training in the roofing industry is ad-hoc, on-the-job training,” Ribble explained. “There’s nothing that provides the consumer an examination of a particular roofer’s skill. Once we get there, we completely transform the industry.”

Retaining roofing contractors to help stabilize the industry when the economy slows is part of the vision. The initiative would also — for the first time — make certified roofing contractors a portable workforce that can respond to major spikes in roofing demand and recovery efforts following national emergencies and devastating storms like hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The idea was well received by the audience, drawing widespread applause and multiple standing ovations.

“This is honestly the most encouraged about NRCA that I’ve felt in a while,” said  RC’s 2015 Residential Roofing Contractor of the Year Tim Leeper, of Tim Leeper Roofing in Nashville, Tenn.