Energy Efficiency and Building Science News

Video: Fixing the 'Perfect Wall' with Control Layers

Wed, 2019-03-20 22:20
Building Science

Think of a wall like a defending army: a smart commander will place each squad where its strengths will be maximized and its weaknesses defended. The task of assembling the components of framing, cladding, insulation, structural sheathing, and various control layers into a durable, cohesive system is a similar balancing act, but there are solutions. Think of it like my mother telling me to clean my room, who would always say “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” 

Start with framing and other structural elements, which are clearly necessary to any structure.  In order to maintain their toughness, they must be protected from water, condensation, and temperature cycling.  This would dictate encasing them within a water resistive barrier, air barrier, vapor retarder, and continuous insulation.  These control layers, on the other hand, are susceptible to damage from wind, precipitation, and UV degradation. So they get protection via cladding installed on top of them.  This is the basic reasoning behind what is sometimes called the perfect wall, and which we have been highlighting in a series of articles and videos.

This is certainly not the whole story, as questions such as how much insulation and how permeable a vapor retarder to use will vary based on your project.  To get insight into these intricacies, take advantage of the excellent collection of resources provided on, where every aspect of the design, installation, and compliance of building envelopes is addressed.

Get off to a head start with this short video, the most recent in a series we have been highlighting:



For additional information, please review the following articles, as well as the previous videos in this series:

Perfect Wall Articles

  1. Wood Framed Wall Insulation Calculator Explained
  2. New Wall Design Calculator for Commercial Energy Code Compliance
  3. Energy Code Math Lesson: Why an R-25 Wall is Not Equal to a R-20+5ci
  4. Continuous Insulation Solves Energy Code Math Problem
  5. Perfect Walls are Perfect, and Hybrid Walls Perfectly Good

Video Series

  1. Fear Building Envelopes No More with This Website & Videos
  2. Thermodynamics Simplified Heat Flows from Warm to Cold
  3. Moisture Flow Drives Water Induced Problems
  4. Video: How the 'Perfect Wall' Solves Environmental Diversity
  5. Video: How Important Is Your WRB?
  6. Video: A Reliably Perfect Wall Anywhere
  7. Video: The Best Wall We Know How to Make 
  8. Video: How to Insulate with Steel Studs
  9. Video: Thermal Bridging and Steel Studs
  10. Video: Better Residential Energy Performance with Continuous Insulation
  11. Video: How to (Not) Ruin a Perfectly Good Wall
  12. Video: Tar Paper and Continuous Insulation? No Problem!
Update Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

How Spray Foam Insulation Mitigates Radon Risk

Wed, 2019-03-20 22:12
Building Science

Demilec Inc. announced their Heatlok HFO High Lift and Heatlok HFO Pro are now radon gas resistant and can be used in place of a conventional polyurethane membrane barrier to mitigate risk of radon incursion.

Most modern building regulations require all foundation seams and breaches to be sealed to prevent the incursion of radon, an invisible, odorless, radioactive gas and America’s second most common source of lung cancer.

Heatlok HFO is sprayed on substrate before a basement floor is poured. A single pass can seal wall and floor seams, as well as the space around utility fittings such as floor drains, sewer lines, and electrical passages. Heatlok HFO is an ICC compliant air barrier, sealing gas as well as, or better than, industry standard products.

According to Demilec, Heatlok HFO is also 11 times more efficient than the conventional polyurethane membrane used to seal against radon. In late 2018, that thermal efficiency earned Heatlok HFO the Center for the Polyurethane Industry’s (CPI) coveted Innovation Award. Heatlok HFO High Lift is rated at an R-value of 7.5/inch, while Heatlok HFO Pro, designed for commercial and industrial applications, has an R-value of 7.4/inch.

Demilec also cites Heatlok HFO’s environmentally responsible composition as a benefit, as it is composed of 12.5% post-consumer waste. To date, Demilec has recycled more than 400 million plastic bottles to manufacture their spray foam products. Heatlok HFO generates no jobsite trash and is sprayed from reusable containers.

“Spraying Heatlok HFO under slab in basement serves two distinct purposes in the building envelope. It provides thermal insulation in an area which can be the coldest part of the home, and it helps prevent carcinogenic radon gas from entering the living space. All done without having to tape down and seal polyethylene sheeting,” says Douglas Brady, Vice President of Product Management and Technology.


Update Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Innovative Stacking Block System Uses EPS Foam and OSB

Wed, 2019-03-20 22:08
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

While wandering among the hot tubs and Vita-Mixers at the National Home Show in Toronto, I came upon Philippe Paul and OSBlock, a really interesting structural system invented and manufactured in Quebec.

Basically, it is a sandwich of two layers of expanded polystyrene foam with a filling of four layers of Oriented Strand board (OSB) 12" high by 8' long. Just stack them up and you have an instant R-32 wall. Want more insulation? Just stick it on the outside. Most importantly, there are no thermal bridges, one of the major sources of heat loss in buildings. It is sort of an inside-out Structural Insulated Panel, with the wood on the inside and the foam on the outside.

I usually don't have the patience for a three minute video but I was captivated by this. Two people can easily lift each piece and stack it on top of the one below. Then you use a long tool to turn the plastic lock mechanism that holds it tightly together. There are corner fittings to tie it all together, clever window details, and a lot of spray foam caulk to seal it all up. Unlike Structural Insulated Panels, there is no waste in cutting out windows, there is hardly any waste at all.

I would be very curious to see how it does on a blower test with all those joints, but suspect that with a bit of tape and caulk it would do just fine. The elimination of thermal bridging might make it useful for Passivhaus construction. There are even furring strips to attach siding on the outside and drywall on the inside, there are channels for electric wiring. They have really figured this out.

This TreeHugger has never been fond of insulated concrete forms, not being a fan of plastic foam or concrete, and have had some concerns about traditional SIP panels where the wood is on the outside and sometimes is damaged by moisture. But this OSBlock is really interesting, with the wood deep in its core, the smaller pieces, and the ease of construction.

EPS foam is mostly air, but is still a solid fossil fuel full of flame retardants. On the bright side, it is now made with not-so-terrible blowing agents and has a very low Global Warming Potential compared to XPS and polyurethane. As they say at BuildingGreen of another SIP with EPS:

BuildingGreen does not generally recommend EPS as an insulation material because it is made with several problematic materials, including benzene and the brominated flame retardant HBCD, but we list EPS-core SIPs because they provide a relatively easy way to create walls with superb energy performance.

One can say the same thing about the OSBlock; it is doing such interesting things here. What a clever way to build.


Update Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

How Carlisle’s Rebranding May Boost Entire Industry

Wed, 2019-03-20 22:02
Building ScienceBusiness

The spray foam industry is developing at a rapid rate, which can leave customers and consumers feeling overwhelmed when making a brand choice. However, there are two teams making that choice easier for applicators, distributors, builders, architects, and consumers: Accella and Carlisle. Their goals are simple; satisfying customers by being easy to work with, delivering high-quality products, offering the best technical, sales, and customer support, and creating strong brand awareness. All of these objectives will deliver superior added value.

The Accella team has officially announced a major rebranding of their spray foam business, which will now be identified as Carlisle Spray Foam Insulation (CSFI). What is the reason for rebranding the legacy company and their multiple brands, and how will it benefit spray foam customers? Spray Foam Magazine sat down with top executives from both Accella and Carlisle to discuss this groundbreaking reinvention and its benefits.

Prior to being acquired by Carlisle, Accella was owned by a private equity firm that created the largest independent polyurethane systems house in North America. Carlisle Construction Materials acquired Accella—including the spray foam business unit—in November of 2017. With an impressive 100 years of experience, Carlisle is a well-established, dependable business with a long-term plan to make this rebrand a success.

Built on established mutual trust and respect, the acquisition has helped unify and simplify two visions and identities. Carlisle excels at achieving organic growth by building the business portfolio, driving operational excellence, and being a partner that is easy to do business with, all of which will benefit the customer.

In 2018, the companies started to merge their strengths, with Carlisle providing Accella access to the latest technical know-how, brands, and resources of a global company. Moody Ozier, the Marketing Director for Accella’s spray foam business unit clarifies, “The portfolio of spray foam brands included three very well-established spray foam competitors: Premium Spray Products, QuadFoam, and BaySeal. We were living with multiple brands under our spray foam name, Accella Polyurethane Systems. With many acquisitions in a very short period of time, the decision to keep the three separate brands made sense. However, as we talked to customers, we recognized that it created market confusion.” In 2018, the Carlisle and Accella teams carried out extensive research to determine if a total rebrand would help to clarify the overall spray foam brand.

Ozier enthusiastically announces, “We looked at either rebranding to Carlisle or consolidating products into something new. We started the brand strategy process in May of 2018, leveraging a high-profile outside agency and conducting more than 600 interviews with contractors, distributors, architects, and consumers.” »

Al Restaino, Vice President of Marketing for Accella Polyurethanes Systems’ portfolio of businesses, said, “The results were overwhelmingly positive that we should simplify our message of who we are and leverage the Carlisle name. The brand strategy, which will be unveiled during the SPFA show in Daytona Beach, is the result of those interviews and demonstrates the enormous value and impact our customers have on the positioning of the brand strategy.”

In addition, the consensus was that Accella needed one product family, making it recognizable and simple for customers. Ozier states, “With such an array of products, we were competing against ourselves. The solution is to simplify and rebrand. We are still the spray foam business unit of Accella Polyurethane Systems, but we are owned by Carlisle. We are especially excited to offer the most comprehensive, complete product portfolio under the SealTite name as we sunset our other legacy brands.”

Shifting Accella’s identity has clarified their brand strategy, matching spray foam solutions to industry needs. This team effort will make their contribution to the spray foam industry stronger than ever, benefiting those within the industry and their customers.

Why is a clear national brand so vital? Brand strategy and consistency is fundamental to simplifying buying decisions, product recognition, business philosophy, and the world’s view of the company. Once constricted by structure, the marketing of its culture has transformed it into something much grander. At one time, the businesses would focus on regional branding, but with today’s internet and global access, branding must be on a comprehensive, national level. Teaming Accella and Carlisle will accomplish this.

Mike McAuley, Carlisle Construction Materials’ Executive Vice President of Diversified Products and General Manager of Accella, says, “This new branding platform allows Accella to build on the success of Carlisle Construction Materials and our brand management approach to the marketplace; it will help with differentiation and provide a unique customer experience. This journey will take some time, but will ultimately provide needed leadership for the industry.”

Bill Brengel, Vice President and General Manager for Polyurethane Systems – Specialities, added, “Another important benefit of being part of the Carlisle Construction Materials team is that the Carlisle name is widely recognized as a high-quality solutions provider to not only the architectural specification community, but to all national and regional builders. Carlisle is committed to the industry space and to providing long-term investment, stability, and development of the category. I believe being part of such a powerhouse will be very exciting for all our customers and consumers alike.”

Efforts are now focused under one umbrella brand to send a clear message to customers; they can feel confident in choosing Carlisle Spray Foam Insulation. Carlisle’s wealth of experience has enabled the company to develop proven systems, policies, and significant analysis for decision making. Combining this with Accella’s proven sales and technical experience and quality products gives this new venture exciting potential. Both teams are as dedicated as ever to delivering excellent service to their customers, and they are both looking forward to strong, sustainable growth.

Sensing the enthusiasm, dedication, and overall brand clarity these two companies have obtained really does make one feel confident in the future of the spray foam industry.


Update Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Is Spray Home an Integral Part of the Pot Industry?

Wed, 2019-03-20 21:58
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

A recent article in Spray Foam Magazine focused on an emerging trend for spray foam: insulating marijuana growing facilities.  The article starts by pointing out this industry has been growing rapidly in the past few years, and that growth is expected to accelerate.

“Predicted to be a $21-billion-dollar industry by 2021, grow houses are investing in this protection and crop standardization. One way farmers are ensuring their crops are top quality, is to regulate the grow house temperature with a climate controlled facility. The application of spray foam will ensure this happens which in turn will keep heating and cooling costs down for the grower.”

More specifically, spray foam is the perfect insulator for this specific application:

“What makes this foam insulation so special is its ability to make grow rooms airtight so growers can purchase smaller heating and cooling systems and lower utility expenses. It also features an R-7 per inch insulation capacity. Two or more inches can make a wall resistant to moisture, insects, vermin, mold and mildew.”

Check out the video below to see the spray foam application applied to the building highlighted in the article:



After conducting several tests on the efficacy of the insulation installation, they reached this conclusion:

“The evidence was clear—the spray foam makes the building so airtight that just two inches of it is better than six inches of fiberglass and 17 inches of cellulose.”

Update Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Builders Admit Needing Help Choosing Insulation & Installers

Wed, 2019-03-20 21:44
Building CodesBuilding Science

In an Omnibus Survey of Builders fielded by Home Innovation in December, we asked, “What are your biggest challenges in constructing homes to meet current energy codes?” We received 250 write-in, unaided responses that provide insight into difficulties many builders are having.

While responses varied—for instance, 15% of those surveyed said they are not experiencing any challenges—Home Innovation’s market research director Ed Hudson says many respondents indicated that building energy-efficient homes is requiring changes within the industry, and that change can be painful—particularly in light of rising labor and materials costs and a short supply of labor. Among the 85% who indicated having issues, most agreed they are trying to sort out the fast pace of building code changes and their implications on the design and construction of homes.

Aside from increased price and labor pressures, most of the challenges mentioned could be solved by, or at least benefit from, more thorough education and training of industry members and homeowners. Feedback like this allows Home Innovation to help building product manufacturers understand the industry’s challenges and develop workable solutions. More from the survey can be found at Here are some highlights: 

  • A frequent comment was that subcontractors are not adequately trained to implement the energy improvements required by building code. Builders said they often resort to personally training subs and overseeing their work.
  • Builders noted suppliers are at times behind the curve, particularly in offering solutions to help builders respond to changing energy-efficiency requirements. Wait times for products and materials for non-standard solutions were also noted. These issues can be compounded in non-metropolitan areas, which seem to be the last to get access to a regular supply of materials and products.
  • Faced with too many options and not enough knowledge to allow them to optimize the selection of systems and materials, builders need training. But what’s the best starting point? A more efficient building envelope through more insulation and airtightness? More efficient HVAC systems, appliances, and fixtures? Solar energy? Reliable guidance is needed.
  • Energy upgrades are universally sought, but who is paying for the materials and design cost? Builders sometimes find it difficult to convey the value of energy improvements to home buyers, especially when costs are involved. This is particularly true when it’s necessary to sacrifice features or functionality in some other area of the home to meet the budget.
  • Builders noted looking for HVAC solutions that take into account aspects of tighter homes, such as ventilation and removal of humidity from the air. A few mentioned having issues with thicker insulation on foundation walls and integrating this seamlessly into the building envelope using currently available materials.


Update Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Video: Do CI and WRBs Go Together?

Wed, 2019-03-13 17:28
Building Science

Last time we talked about integrating continuous insulation with a tarpaper WRB.  However, nowadays it’s common to see other kinds of WRBs on commercial products such as peel-and-stick, fully self-adhered membranes, spray applied membranes, and so forth. 

Can you put continuous insulation over these types of WRBs?  Forgive us for sounding like a broken record, but the answer is “of course!”  In fact, continuous insulation is compatible with pretty much any WRB system, and in some cases can function as its own WRB (when properly installed, taped and sealed).  For more information and guidance, visit the WRB page on and check out the short video below:

For additional information, please review the following articles, as well as the previous videos in this series:

Perfect Wall Articles

  1. New Wall Design Calculator for Commercial Energy Code Compliance
  2. Energy Code Math Lesson: Why an R-25 Wall is Not Equal to a R-20+5ci
  3. Continuous Insulation Solves Energy Code Math Problem
  4. Perfect Walls are Perfect, and Hybrid Walls Perfectly Good
  5. Wood Framed Wall Insulation Calculator Explained

Video Series

  1. Fear Building Envelopes No More with This Website & Videos
  2. Thermodynamics Simplified Heat Flows from Warm to Cold
  3. Moisture Flow Drives Water Induced Problems
  4. Video: How the 'Perfect Wall' Solves Environmental Diversity
  5. Video: How Important Is Your WRB?
  6. Video: A Reliably Perfect Wall Anywhere
  7. Video: The Best Wall We Know How to Make 
  8. Video: How to Insulate with Steel Studs
  9. Video: Thermal Bridging and Steel Studs
  10. Video: Better Residential Energy Performance with Continuous Insulation
  11. Video: How to (Not) Ruin a Perfectly Good Wall
  12. Video: Tar Paper and Continuous Insulation? No Problem!

Spray Foam Helps Turn ‘Sea-Cans’ Into a Livable Home

Wed, 2019-03-13 17:17
Building Science

Four shipping containers have been brought together, stacked in a two-by-two arrangement, and is soon to be the family home of Jaime Turner in Calgary, a province in Canada.

Although shipping containers turned into homes have started to be a trend, Turner's house on Calgary is quite unique and unconventional as it is the first in the said Canadian province. In this design, the bedrooms are found on the ground floor, the kitchen and dining area are on the top floor, and the patio is in between the ground and the second floor. All the sea-cans used for the house are single-use shipping containers with Turner's intention to reduce the carbon footprint of his family.

On February 26, one of the lots in the eco-friendly area, Eco Haven, has had its groundbreaking. Construction has started for Turner's future house in the Rocky Ridge community.

This project has given Turner a huge step towards his passion for greener goals and environmental awareness. $700,000 later, the plans are drafted and the shipping containers are being cut according to the floor plan. The plumbing and electrical works were also roughed in. Insulation in a form of spray foam has been installed as well. All these were done in a warehouse at 3Leafs. After the parts of the house are ready, all of it was taken to Calgary in a truck. On-site, the construction-ready sea cans are being assembled according to plan. This is a two-day process using a crane.

Turner hopes for a modern design, calling for the need to use stucco and metallic wooden panel accents on its exterior, hiding its boxy appearance. The interiors are still to be completed with its floors, countertops, drywall, and other details like an "exposed sea can" feature that the family can use as a talking piece which Turner is excited about.

Another feature to be added in the eco-home is some solar panels on the roof. There are also a few parts about the home that can be described as "traditional construction". The garage will not be made of sea cans and the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system (HVAC) will not be using natural gas.

Turner is optimistic about seeing more people patronizing an environmentally conscientious house such as his. 3Leafs is also excited about the attention and interest their project is getting. The company is looking forward to more projects such as Turner's eco-friendly family house.

Builder Evaluates the Latest Insulation Alternatives

Wed, 2019-03-13 17:00
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

When it comes to insulation, there’s an assumption all that’s needed is to pack some itchy pink stuff in the walls or throw some cellulose on the attic floor.

Simple, quick, affordable ways to reduce energy cost. Just stuff it in and you’re done, right?


Keywords for insulating these days are “air sealing” and “thermal envelope performance” prevent air and moisture from moving through the walls and ceilings. In the olden days, I think these were referred to as “drafts.”

If you’ve ever had a drafty room, you know what it does to comfort levels and energy use.

Even houses without noticeable drafts have hidden air movement. Pathways of air movement occur within the wall and ceiling cavities, allowing air to escape from indoors to outdoors, and vice-versa.

Newer building practices now look for all the places where infiltration and exfiltration occur and seal them shut.

One method is to use spray foam insulation. Insulation contractors use special equipment to mix and spray chemicals that swell and seal gaps. Cost to fully fill an entire wall or ceiling is expensive, so many stick with fiberglass batts and don’t worry about the air sealing. While affordable, fiberglass is typically installed wrong by being packed too tight or having numerous gaps.

One hybrid method to get cost control and effectiveness is the ‘flash and batt’ method, in a which a thin layer of foam sprayed over the inner wall and attic surfaces to seal the cracks, then followed by loose cellulose, or, fiberglass batts. Another method is to use damp-spray cellulose which mixes glue into the insulation and effectively blocks many leak prone spots.

I recently saw a new product named Aero Barrier, which introduces an aerosolized caulk into the house under high pressure during construction. Air leaks are sealed by the buildup of the material into the gaps where the material and air are escaping the pressure. This product looks to be a major player in the future of housing.

Be aware that the tighter a house is, the more need there is for fresh air to be brought into the home. It seems contradictory, but it really is true. This is where air recovery systems come into play. Fresh air, brought into the HVAC system, is pretreated for heating or cooling without creating drafts — keeping everyone affordably comfortable.

Rob Kinsey has been a licensed builder for 30 years and is a home inspector with more than 20 years of experience.

Could Cellulose Nanofibers Replace Today's Plastics?

Wed, 2019-03-13 16:55
Building Science

The pulping process that turns wood into paper is an old technology. Really old. Older than eyeglasses. Older than the compass. Older than porcelain, gun powder, and even algebra. But what’s remarkable is that, after nearly two millennia, our industry is still innovating around wood fiber, using cutting edge processes to transform it for use in brand new applications. We’re making products that are lighter and stronger than their predecessors, and building natural, fully biodegradable materials that can replace fossil-fuel derived materials in many aspects of our lives.

A big driver of that innovation is something called cellulose nanofibers, or nanocellulose. They come from the same wood pulp used to make paper and paper-based packaging, but are extracted from the pulp through heat, pressure, and grinding. The resulting fibers are teeny tiny. How teeny tiny? The average human hair is about 75 micrometers in width. That’s 75 millionths of a meter. The average nanocellulose fiber is 15-30 nanometers in width. That’s 20 billionths of a meter.

It’s also strong—with eight times the tensile strength of steel.

Although scientists in the U.S. pioneered nanocellulose in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the world is only now starting to unlock its potential to improve our products and our lives.

In our own industry, nanocellulose is being added to paper to increase its strength and smoothness. It also shows huge promise as a way to improve paper-based packaging’s air, water, and lipid barriers (a fancy way to describe the way cereal boxes keep your corn flakes from going stale, pizza boxes absorb grease, and coffee cups avoid getting soggy). The fibers can also be made into a transparent film similar in appearance to fossil-fuel derived plastics, a development that will have a big impact on the recyclability of packaging in the future.

Nanocellulose can also be fabricated into foams and gels, and because it is completely non-toxic, that means it can even be used as stabilizers, flavor carriers and thickeners in food.

Some manufacturers even see the potential for the use of nanofibers in building the next generation of lighter, stronger auto parts for super fuel-efficient cars.

There is even research showing nanocellulose could replace the non-biodegradable and sometimes toxic substances used in making our cellphones and tablets.

Biodegradable cell phones? How is that possible? Nanofibers can be biodegraded by a special kind of fungus, the organic matter that’s left can go right back into the forests as raw material for growing trees.

A couple thousand years after paper revolutionized the way the world communicated, paper could…revolutionize the way the world communicates. Now that’s pulp magic.


UT, NM & ME Seek to Update State Energy Codes

Wed, 2019-03-13 16:49
Building Codes

The following three state legislatures have introduced measures that would have an impact on the states’ energy code:

  1. Utah's House Bill 218, Construction Code Modifications passed the Utah House and passage appears likely in the Utah Senate. The bill adopts the commercial provisions 2018 IECC – and by reference, the ASHRAE 90.1-2016 standard. This is a positive step toward improving energy performance for new commercial construction in the state.
  2. New Mexico's SM 86 urges the state to update its energy efficiency code and report back to the Legislature state agency progress toward that objective
  3. Maine's HP 676 allows municipalities to adopt stricter building and energy code standards than the Maine uniform building and energy code.

Registration Open for DOE’s Better Building Summit, July 9

Wed, 2019-03-13 16:45
Building Science

The 2019 Summit will be held in the Washington, D.C. metro area (Arlington, VA) July 10-11, with pre-conference activities starting on July 9. This annual event for Better Buildings, Better Plants Partners and other key stakeholders provides the opportunity for professionals to explore emerging technologies and share innovative strategies in energy and water efficiency. Attendees can expect two days of interactive sessions with industry experts and market leaders as well as many opportunities to network with peers.

DowDupont Sells Off European Styrofoam Operations

Wed, 2019-03-13 16:41
Building ScienceBusiness

DowDuPont Inc. has sold the European arm of its Styrofoam-brand extruded polystyrene insulation business, including seven production plants, to materials supplier Ravago Group.

A Dow spokesman told Plastics News that the divestment includes all XPS operations at plants in Dilovasi, Turkey; Drusenheim, France; Kings Lynn, England; Lavrion, Greece; Norrköping, Sweden; and Rheinmünster and Schkopau, Germany.

The deal includes support functions including sales and marketing, research and development, supply chain, customer service and a small number of other business dedicated roles across Europe.

"Based on the European XPS business' historical investment profile, our company believes the business is better suited for Ravago," the spokesman said in a Feb. 8 email. "This strategic adjustment was made in order to prepare for the intended spin of three independent companies and to ensure these future companies are setup for success."

Plastics and chemicals giants Dow and DuPont Co. merged in early 2017. They will split into separate companies again in April, with a third company — Corteva — spinning off from DuPont in June.

No purchase price was disclosed in the Dow-Ravago XPS deal. Almost 300 people work for the business that is being sold.

Ravago Group is a global distribution, compounding and recycling firm based in Luxembourg. Its global units include Ravago Holdings America, a major North American resin and chemicals distributor based in Orlando, Fla.

Ravago Group employs 6,000 worldwide, distributing almost 9 billion pounds of resins and compounds to 40,000 customers. The firm's compounding and recycling units have combined annual global capacity of more than 1 billion pounds.


New CI Insulated Cement Board Hits the Market

Wed, 2019-03-13 16:38
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

New PermaBase CI Insulated Cement Board™, a composite cement board that combines the strength and benefits of PermaBase with rigid insulation to create an ideal substrate for exterior finishes, was introduced earlier this year.

With an R-Value of R-10, new PermaBase CI Insulated Cement Board™ meets or exceeds energy code requirements in all seven climate zones across the country.

A National Gypsum brand, PermaBase CI meets or exceeds energy code requirements in all seven climate zones across the country with an R-Value of R-10. For use in residential, multi-family and low-rise commercial applications, PermaBase CI is lighter weight than using separate cement board and insulation products.

"Using PermaBase CI Insulated Cement Board™ as a substrate for exterior finishes can reduce total installed costs by 20 to 25 percent," said Tony Fuller, product manager for PermaBase at National Gypsum. "Given the construction industry's evolving energy code requirements, this is good news for builders, general contractors, specifiers, design-build professionals and architects."

There are many benefits to using PermaBase CI Insulated Cement Board™ as a substrate for exterior finishes:

  • Faster Installation
    • Expedites construction schedules by saving time and labor over installing separate insulation and cement board solutions
  • Performance | Convenience | Lighter Weight
    • Made with PermaBase Cement Board and high-density polyiso insulation, PermaBase CI provides durability and highly efficient insulation in one lighter-weight, convenient package
  • Laminated with an R-10 Insulation
    • With an insulative value of R-10, PermaBase CI meets or exceeds energy code requirements across the country
  • NFPA 285 Approvals for Adhered Veneer Finishes
    • Approved for adhered veneer finishes such as manufactured and natural stone, thin brick and tile, as well as direct applied coatings of synthetic stucco
  • GREENGUARD GOLD certified
    • For low chemical emissions
  • Mold Resistant
    • Per UL 2824 as validated by UL Environment


Johns Manville Launches New Polyiso Cover Board

Wed, 2019-03-13 16:34
Energy Efficiency

Johns Manville is announcing the release of ProtectoR HD, a ½” thick, high-density polyiso cover board with Grade 1 compressive strength (min. 80 psi up to 110) and an R-value of 2.5. ProtectoR HD offers excellent resistance to harsh rooftop conditions including hail, wind uplift, puncture and moisture in a competitive package. ProtectoR HD provides reduced FM 1-90 fastening rates with as few as 8 fasteners per 4’x8’ board. This is up to a 50 percent reduction in fasteners and plates required to achieve FM 1-90 over min. 22-gauge steel or structural concrete decks as compared to other high-density polyiso cover boards. ProtectoR HD is manufactured in Bremen, Ind., Cornwall, Ontario, Fernley, Nev., Hazleton, Pa. and Jacksonville, Fla.

Roofing Industry Professionals Lobby Congress Apr. 3-4

Wed, 2019-03-13 16:31
Building Science

Join fellow roofing industry professionals in Washington, D.C., as we take our message to Capitol Hill! It is important members of Congress see you and hear from you about the critical issues facing your company. To be seen and heard, we need the industry speaking with one voice in Washington, D.C.! Don't miss this opportunity to make a difference for your business and our industry!\

During Roofing Day in D.C. 2019, participants will be advocating in support of the following issues:

  • A robust buildings component for infrastructure legislation
  • Immigration reform that meets the roofing industry's workforce needs
  • Expanded workforce training incentives

This year, we're introducing a special registration rate of only $25 for roof system installers. We strongly encourage you to bring one or more standout crew members to help share the industry's story. Congress needs to hear from all segments of the industry!

Registration Fees            

Company Representatives $75 per person

Roof System Installers $25 per person

Guidance to Installers in Choosing the Right Spray Foam

Wed, 2019-03-06 21:09
Building Science

It’s rarely a good idea to go at it alone, and success is seldom achieved solely through individual efforts. In sports, every champion is supported by a team and the same goes for highly successful spray foam contractors. Success in the spray foam industry is influenced by numerous factors and those companies who use all of the resources available to them are far more likely to thrive than those who operate without a team. Every spray foam application is a battle against time, weather, and all the challenges we attribute to Murphy’s Law.

In laying a foundation for success and in planning for the unforeseeable, SPF contractors should always carefully consider which spray foam supplier they have in their corner. Outlined below are the Seven Rounds defining the right partnership for running a championship business:

ROUND 1: Product

When you look at product performance, you can look to cost, but the true cost is the installed cost. How much did it cost in material to produce the board feet that I am selling? High-yield products obviously end up costing you less to install, and the supplier in your corner has a choice to make:

Do they want to invest in the resources and technology to produce a high-yield product? Or go the cheaper route; selling a cheaper product that requires the contractor to use more product? A good supplier will invest in product development, pushing performance innovation with contractor success as their goal. The end result is cutting-edge spray foam that lowers the overall installed cost of each job, adding more profit per job.

While product yield is important, the most critical decision facing the contractor today is whether to use spray foams that follow the industry accepted Appendix-X fire test or the alternate Oxygen Depletion method. Let’s compare the two methods in detail.

In one corner, Appendix-X. In the other corner, Oxygen Depletion.

Appendix-X Approved Spray Foams:

  • Need no additional coatings, saving time and money by eliminating a costly return trip.
  • Carry no special building requirements or restrictions.
  • Require no special safety messages to homeowners.
    - Are backed by the supplier and fire safety officials.  

Oxygen Depletion Spray Foams:

  • Require the builder to construct the attic space in a specific way.
  • Prohibit popular vertical attic access doors, like you might find in a bonus room over a garage
    - Require all annular spaces around skylights, can-lights, and any other substrate penetrating installations to be foamed.
    - Require all flex duct in the attic to be sprayed with SPF (which voids the flex duct warranty) or have a special controller installed in the attic that requires two professional inspections per year.
    - Require special detailed CAUTION signs to alerting the homeowner that no modifications are allowed, and that the attic cannot be used for storage.

Adding to these comparisons, it is vital to note that if a fire starts in an attic that was insulated using the Oxygen Depletion method, and a homeowner or firefighter opens the attic door, oxygen can flow into the attic to feed the fire. The result could be a violent backdraft. On the other hand, there is documented evidence of Appendix-X approved foams preventing fires from spreading into the insulated space, preventing further property damage, and allowing occupants such as an HVAC tech or plumber more time to escape. 

Once again, who you choose to have in your corner is critical. There are SPF products available today that pass the Appendix-X test uncoated, minimizing the cost to the contractor and the potential liability associated with products that require specific attic configurations. The right supplier develops their products with the safety of the end user and the success of the installer in mind.

Click here to read the rest of the originally published article.

Field Guide for Properly Installing Window Flashing

Wed, 2019-03-06 20:36
Building Science

Recessed window openings can be flashed with liquid-applied flashings or with peel-and-stick membrane flashing. Regardless of which membrane system you use, these guidelines will keep you out of trouble most of the time:

Work from bottom to top. This is obvious to a lot of folks but bears repeating. You have to work from bottom to top to make sure top layers lap over bottom layers.

Pre-formed flashing corners. Pre-formed corners are available from Fortifiber. They’re sold as “Corner Flash A” (for the outer corners of the recess) and “Corner Flash B” (for inside corners). But you can also pre-form corners using DuPont FlexWrap or other flexible flashing material following the DuPont instructions.

Use flashing corners on all corners of the recessed opening, including the four outside edges of the outer face of the opening, as well as the four corners on the wall area in which the window is set. On the bottom of the opening, the corners on the outside edge are installed first, then the corners near the window unit. On the top of the opening, the inside corners near the window are installed first, then the corners on the outside edge. This will ensure that the layers are lapped correctly.

And don’t forget the top corners. A lot of folks are so concerned about the lower sill area, they neglect the top corners of the opening. Those are just as susceptible to blowing rain and water dripping around the top edge and running into a tiny gap.

Protection layer. After the lower recessed edge is correctly flashed, apply a course of building paper to protect this important area from trade damage. Many times, recessed openings are used as tool-holders and stepping stools, which will damage your carefully applied and expensive flashing efforts. Adding a course of building paper or a sheet of nail-on flashing is a cheap insurance policy.

J-roller. The karate-chop method of pushing peel-and-stick into a corner is not enough. Always use a J-roller to smooth the material flat and ensure complete adhesion. Wrinkles and poor adhesion will inevitably lead to leaks.

For the latest information and resources on window installation using exterior continuous insulation, check out these resources on




Video: Tar Paper and Continuous Insulation? No Problem!

Wed, 2019-03-06 19:46
Building Science

Integrating continuous insulation with traditional building methods is much easier than it sounds.  Take tar paper for example.  Tar paper is historically the most common water resistive barrier (WRB) for residential construction.  Typically after flashing is installed, the tar paper is shingled up the wall--each sheet overlapping the sheet below--to create a continuous drainage plane.  To integrate continuous insulation with this system is pretty simple: just add continuous insulation!  Simply install the insulation boards according to the manufacturer’s instructions on top of the tar paper layer, and you’re done,

Often times continuous insulation can be intimidating to designers or installers, but its use is quite straightforward, and the benefits are abundant, as we’ve covered in this series of articles (see links below).  As always, there are many more in-depth resources available on, and don’t forget to watch this short video that illustrates the ease of adding continuous insulation to your project:

For additional information, please review the following articles, as well as the previous videos in this series:

Perfect Wall Articles

  1. Polyiso CI Helps Designers Achieve a 'Perfect Wall'
  2. New Wall Design Calculator for Commercial Energy Code Compliance
  3. Energy Code Math Lesson: Why an R-25 Wall is Not Equal to a R-20+5ci
  4. Continuous Insulation Solves Energy Code Math Problem
  5. Perfect Walls are Perfect, and Hybrid Walls Perfectly Good
  6. Wood Framed Wall Insulation Calculator Explained

Video Series

  1. Fear Building Envelopes No More with This Website & Videos
  2. Thermodynamics Simplified Heat Flows from Warm to Cold
  3. Moisture Flow Drives Water Induced Problems
  4. Video: How the 'Perfect Wall' Solves Environmental Diversity
  5. Video: How Important Is Your WRB?
  6. Video: A Reliably Perfect Wall Anywhere
  7. Video: The Best Wall We Know How to Make 
  8. Video: How to Insulate with Steel Studs
  9. Video: Thermal Bridging and Steel Studs
  10. Video: Better Residential Energy Performance with Continuous Insulation
  11. Video: How to (Not) Ruin a Perfectly Good Wall

Spray Foam Shines in Firms First LEED Gold Home

Wed, 2019-03-06 18:26
Building Science

It seems today that everybody wants to save the world. And who can blame us? Environmental awareness—and warnings—has reached an apex. We're all cognizant of our impacts on the planet and we're willing to minimize them.

But how?

Amid the noise of pious politicians and sermonizing celebrities, the public is left to decipher how best to actually, practically make a meaningful difference for the environment in daily life.

Fortunately, Anthony and Suzanne Kissling committed to this very goal when constructing their Palm City home. Their handpicked team of local professionals—largely new to the intricacies such an undertaking entailed—each contributed in ways subtle and overt to easing the eco impacts. The results: a home that preserves energy and water while also prolonging elegance, style and comfort, earning the literal gold-standard of green building.

The Kisslings' home in the Floridian is the first residential property in Martin County to earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Some of the comprehensive requirements for LEED Gold (rankings include Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum) remain beyond reach for many homeowners. But not so for a number of the practices, techniques and innovations involved. Many, team leaders share, are readily available. Even if an official certification isn't, a cleaner, greener conscience still is. Such is the trend the Kisslings hope to influence.

“It's about that ripple effect,” Suzanne Kissling says.

Clear vision

Longtime friends, colleagues and co-collaborators on countless past projects, interior designer Dianne Davant and landscape architect Tom Lucido share the same philosophy on client services.

“We aim to make their vision come to life,” Lucido says. “They had a vision of building a totally sustainable home. We were approached at the get-go knowing that we had to do a lot of research to effectively navigate the process.”

Such navigation requires a guide. Enter Kyle and Harmony Abney, who own the Palm City-based green building consulting firm Abney + Abney Green Solutions. Whether serving as an independent contractor on behalf of the architect, the builder or the homeowner, Green Solutions bears the credentials to score points and provide third-party verification for LEED certification—the internationally recognized standard for green building authentication.

Carrots and the occasional stick

While Delray Beach and Miami Beach institute various LEED requirements—with Miami Beach mandating LEED Gold for any project over 7,000 square feet—most municipalities adopt the incentive approach. Complaint applicants might enjoy expedited reviews or reduced permit costs. The industry is still warming to the value of LEED construction. So the Abneys—who generally rate commercial or multifamily residential projects—face frequent commutes south.

“We don't have a lot of work in Martin or on the Treasure Coast,” says Kyle Abney, a third-generation contractor and builder who studied green building in college. “Most is in Miami or Fort Lauderdale.”

Grateful for the gridlock respite, the Palm City resident's proximity to the Kissling home may not have counted toward satisfying the letter of any LEED requirements, but it certainly honored the spirit. That's because of the five fundamental factors that determine green buildings, material generation and usage is essential. It encompasses the amount of waste diverted from landfills, the number of recycled and repurposed goods, even the distance involved in transportation—the shorter the better for diminishing travel-related carbon production.

Expected requirements include increased energy efficiency and limited water consumption. Perhaps surprising, under the category of indoor-environmental quality, are scoring opportunities for enhanced storage of any chemicals in the garage that could compromise air quality. But the first phase is site location and preparation.

Turning dirt

“It starts from the ground up—literally,” Lucido says. “How the site is graded, even the drainage, makes a difference in ensuring proper usage and management of environmental resources.”

Despite extensive experience in landscape architecture, Paul Goulas, senior project designer with Lucido & Associates, never before pursued LEED certification on a residential project. Nevertheless, he embraced the opportunity.

“He was really into it and proud of the stuff he was incorporating,” Kyle Abney remembers.

Goulas zeroed in on water management—minimizing outputs and maximizing benefits.

“Water is a big concern when it comes to LEED certification and plant consumption,” Goulas says. “Most of the plants are either native or low-water usage. We did do irrigation—but it's all drip, so there are no spray heads. Given the plants that we used, it's easily 50 to 75 percent less water usage than an average residential system. Once the plants get established, the irrigation system would probably barely even need to run.”

The drought-tolerant native landscaping rated high. Knowing sod's insatiable thirst, Goulas eschewed grass altogether. In fact, the only turf on-site is artificial for two putting greens.

For the hardscaping, even a detail as seemingly inconsequential as color boosted the rating, Kyle Abney explains.

“The driveway and the more dark, hard surfaces are heat sinks,” he says. “The lighter the color, the better. The pavers had recycled content and were locally produced.”

The recycled content involved little pavement, Goulas says.

“Most of it was synthetic,” he adds. “Basically, everything but the house was pretty much pervious.”

Foam sweet home

The emphasis on energy efficiency was poured, literally, into the construction process. With Peter and Maria Stromberg of GarciaStromberg serving as the architects, Bill Daly, vice president for the Hobe Sound-based Carrere General Contractors, was the project manager. Daly added the spray foam insulation icynene into the concrete-block construction. Often used in attics and not uncommon in the walls of high-end homes, icynene improves overall energy efficiently. High-performance windows added insulation, reducing heat loss (and electric bills).

The extra fortification offered additional benefits, Kyle Abney notes.

“It was a concrete block that was locally produced, but there's also a durability element,” he says. “The longer something lasts, the less you have to replace it and throw it out.”

Claiming future by reclaiming past

Items reused rather than discarded weigh favorably, too.

“There was lots of reclaimed wood, including reclaimed cypress in the mantle,” Kyle Abney says.

Crediting Jefferson Woodworking of Palm City for much of the sourcing, Suzanne Kissling also cited reclaimed heart pine composing ample flooring and Spanish porcelain, a sustainable source, throughout the first floor.

“Everybody had to think, ‘Well, if we did it this way, we could get two points,'” she recalls. “So it was fun. Everybody was involved.”

Points accrued around every imaginable detail, from the strength and applications of sealants to the paints devoid of volatile organic compounds.

Outer and inner beauty

Meanwhile, Lucido and Davant ensured the look and feel of the exterior flowed naturally inside the home.

“We collaborated with Dianne and her team to make sure the materials related well when you walk into the entrance of the home,” Lucido says.

Davant invited the outer beauty in, with living room doors pocketing away to accentuate views of the zero-edge pool and St. Lucie River.

“They wanted to feel like they were part of the river,” she says.

For overall style, the Kisslings sought “something very different and avant-garde,” Davant says.

“It's a warm contemporary,” adds Priscilla Hyatt Councill, an interior designer with Davant & Associates who played a key role in the effort.

The only energy the home overflows with is the positive kind, thanks to the atmosphere Lucido and Davant created. Otherwise, several features and fixtures ensure energy efficiency.

Photovoltaic panels power much of the house. Add in low-flow toilets and faucets and Energy Star bathroom fans. A recirculating system in the bathroom means hot water on demand. And the solar-powered water heater counts among the upgrades available to a broader base of consumers, Daly says.

“You can get a solar-powered water heater for less,” he says. “I wouldn't mind putting in one of these.”

Back to the future

Some simple eco-upgrades sidestep modern technology entirely by returning to earlier design principles, Kyle Abney says.

“I'm a big fan of fundamental things: deep overhangs, front porches all the way around the house, designed for keeping the house naturally cooler,” he says.

Whether in returning to traditional design techniques, replacing non-native plants with drought-tolerant Florida-friendly vegetation or adopting advanced energy-saving technologies, the principles of LEED certification remain more widely available even if the certifications themselves do not.

A plaque on the Kisslings' doorbell announces the home's LEED status. It serves as a starting point for an important conversation about sustainability, Suzanne Kissling says. As friends and visitors ask questions, she informs on the details involved, the resources properly used and the human resources—right nearby—available to help create a wider ripple effect of environmental stewardship.

“It's important that people know we have talent in Martin County that can get this done,” she says.