Energy Efficiency and Building Science News

Tamlyn Develops New Housewrap ‘Boot Panel’

Wed, 2019-05-01 17:15
Building Science

Editor’s Note: The following article by Tamlyn focuses on the reasons why it’s new weather-tight houserap boot with self-sealing rubber grommet may be the perfect solution to proper flashing around extruded piping. Check out for more information on water resistive barrier installation best practices 

If you install housewrap, or supervise those who do, there’s a good chance the flashing you use to seal-up round plumbing, electric, HVAC, and other penetrations falls into one of four categories. Each category has its fans and critics. Which one of the four wins your vote?

What makes this bake-off especially timely is word of a new way to seal-up exterior wall penetrations that combines some aspects of the four:

  • Traditional Flashing Tape. Old reliable, especially if all you have to work with is flashing tape. Taping-up a penetration may not be the most elegant, reliable, or even fastest approach, but no disputes its convenience.
  • Flexible Flashing Tape. A good solution that’s often recommended by housewrap manufacturers. With a patient, careful hand, the seal can be quite good. The issue for some is flexible flashing tape takes several steps to prep the tape, apply, roll, and properly affix it to the housewrap. The elastic nature of the tape means it is always subject to tape pullback, increasing the risk of water intrusion and callback issues.
  • Liquid-Applied Flashing. A good premium-quality solution. A liquid-applied sealer is seamless and cures water-tight. Proper application, however, is critical. The premium price often makes other value-priced options a better fit.
  • Boot Panel Flashing. A good solution for speed and simplicity. Just align and press the prefabricated flashing panel over the penetration. The tight rubber grommet automatically seals the penetration without tape or caulk. However, even this method has a downside: The plastic frame surrounding the grommet must be taped to the housewrap. Taping two unlike materials together with tape engineered and warranted for housewrap-to-housewrap applications may be asking for trouble.

Many pros today may welcome an alternative method that’s getting good early buzz.

It’s a new weather-tight housewrap boot panel that includes a self-sealing rubber grommet that makes it a snap to seal-up penetrations with any building envelope system (no more taping different materials). According to the manufacturer, Tamlyn, the patented boot panel seals penetrations sized from 1/8-inch to 4-inches across. The boot panel is available with a breathable membrane.

There may be no silver bullet for flashing exterior wall penetrations. But GCs, installing contractors, and anyone in search of a better way to seal-up exterior wall penetrations without the usual issues, may find this alternative well worth a look.


Attend the 'Future of Building Energy Efficiency and Decarbonization' Meeting of Experts

Wed, 2019-05-01 17:08
Energy EfficiencyTuesday, May 28, Denver, CO

The newest ICC Sustainability Membership Council subcommittee is calling all interested parties and industry experts to attend a new event that will dive into the future of energy efficiency and decarbonization, and that will be held adjacent to the 2019 National Energy Codes Conference.

Tuesday, May 28th
1:00-5:00 p.m. Mountain Time
Hilton Denver City Center


In July of 2018, the International Code Council hosted a diverse group of policy experts, representatives from the major grids, cities and states with advanced policies, and other thought leaders in building energy efficiency to discuss the future of building energy efficiency and management. The roundtable was convened adjacent to the DOE 2018 National Energy Code Conference. 

The forum solicited dialogue and input from leaders and advocates on collective goals. The group addressed such questions as:

  • Where should we want to go as a nation with energy efficiency in buildings?
  • What are the challenges and resources available in reaching those goals?
  • Is there some level of collaboration in which we should be engaging that currently does not exist?
Current Status

The group has met and produced several draft reports, focused on developing guidance and tools for states and jurisdictions seeking carbon reduction. With both the IECC and IgCC in mind, the group is now poised to move forward, working to establish ICC as a nationwide leader for states and AHJs with carbon and energy reduction goals.

Moving Forward

Initially, it is anticipated the subcommittee will focus on:

  1. A gap analysis – what is needed, what products and materials currently exists, and what can ICC provide states and AHJs with carbon reduction and energy efficiency goals beyond the IECC and IgCC
  2. Any building energy product that would be an extension of the IgCC/IECC compliance path
  3. Address how to include water - also an extension of IgCC
Your Help is Needed

We encourage all interested parties to attend this meeting to help refine the path forward and discuss alternative ideas, issues and other important aspects of energy efficiency and decarbonization that will help advance communities agendas in these areas. Discussions will include impact assessments and how to address obstacles to new energy initiative implementations. No registration required to attend. If you have additional question, please contact Michelle Britt at


SOPREMA Launches ALSAN "Cool Roof" Products

Wed, 2019-05-01 16:55
Building Science

Editor’s Note: Soprema has launched a new line of products to address “cool roof” designs to increase the energy efficiency of a building’s roof.  Released under the brand ALSAN, these products will also be marketed to extend the life of other roof building products.

SOPREMA, Inc., a leader in the roofing, waterproofing, wall protection, and civil engineering industries, has launched a new collection of silicone and acrylic products under the brand name of ALSAN® Coatings. ALSAN Coatings are ideal for maintaining and extending the life of existing roofs by protecting them from natural weathering.

The ALSAN Coatings line is comprised of:

  • ALSAN Coating SIL 402, a low-VOC, high-solids, single-component silicone roof coating that forms a durable weatherproof coating for exceptional UV protection and resistance to standing water. This maintenance coating is intended for application over existing single-ply (TPO, PVC, EPDM, and CSPE), modified bitumen, BUR, and metal roofing systems and/or approved existing coatings.
  • ALSAN Coating AC 401, a high-quality, plasticizer-free, water-based, acrylic elastomeric roof coating that is tested in accordance with ASTM D-6083. ALSAN Coating AC 401 is highly reflective and offers outstanding flexibility and resistant natural weathering. This reflective coating is intended to be applied over existing single-ply (TPO, PVC, EPDM, and CSPE), modified bitumen, BUR, and metal roofing systems and/or approved existing coatings.

These products are supported by several primer options that allow the coatings’ use across a range of roofing materials and help prevent asphalt bleed-through, inhibit rust and promote adhesion. Additional accessories include an all-purpose cleaner, Polyfleece polyester fabric for reinforcing seams and flashing, walkway coatings/granules, silicone caulk, and butyl fleece tape. Both ALSAN Coating SIL 402 and ALSAN Coating AC 401 are available in white and custom colors.

“With the addition of ALSAN Coatings, SOPREMA now has an answer for virtually every roofing need and budget,” explains Tom Stuewe, product manager, SOPREMA. “The ALSAN Coatings line now allows customers to reduce rooftop temperatures and prevent premature aging caused by UV rays, reduce energy consumption and costs, and extend the life of existing leak-free roofs that could be comprised of a variety of substrates—all at an economical price point. These materials also offer a low environmental impact, thanks to low-VOC content and their ability to extend roof lifespans, reducing landfill waste associated with tear-offs.”

ALSAN Coatings are available for purchase today. For more information on ALSAN Coatings, visit


The Do’s and Don’ts With Today’s Flashing Products

Wed, 2019-05-01 16:53
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The most common mistakes – the places where installers need to always pay attention – are reverse flashing, improper cuts, poor surface prep, and not properly seating the flashing on the substrate.

Reverse shingling, where the upper layers go under the lower layers, is the most common installation mistake. All flashing details should provide 100% mechanical drainage paths so that they shed water even if the adhesive fails.

Regardless of flashing type, the substrate needs to be clean and dry. No flashing will stick to dirty, cold, wet and frozen surfaces. There can also be adherence problems with the rough side of OSB – even if it’s bone dry and clean – as well as with gypsum and masonry-based substrates. In these cases, a primer will fill in any irregularities in the substrate and will also provide extra adhesion.

Reverse shingling, where the upper layers go under the lower layers, is the most common installation mistake. All flashing details should provide 100% mechanical drainage paths so that they shed water even if the adhesive fails.

Improper cuts. Water always follows an edge. Often a piece of flashing is cut then lapped over the piece below. The cut should direct water away from the vulnerable area, preferably out onto the WRB. The most problematic cuts are at windowsills – a good argument for using one-piece flexible product in that area.

Improper surface prep. Regardless of flashing type, the substrate needs to be clean and dry. No flashing will stick to dirty, cold, wet, and frozen surfaces. There can also be adherence problems with the rough side of OSB – even if it’s bone dry and clean – as well as with gypsum and masonry-based substrates. In these cases, a primer will fill in any irregularities in the substrate and will also provide extra adhesion.

Fastener placement. The self-sealing properties of peel-and-stick flashings should be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, fasteners should not be driven through the flashing in areas where water could collect, as in a windowsill.

A plastic spreader is a great way to create the initial bond of the tape to the sheathing. If enough pressure is carefully and meticulously applied, the spreader can create the permanent bond. Whenever possible it is always best to go over the tape with a roller.

Seating adhesive flashings.Peel-and-stick flashing tape needs to be mechanically smoothed with a roller or other device that applies mechancial pressure to promote adhesion. Smoothing the flashing with hand pressure is not enough.


Knauf Expands Building Material Empire Through USG

Wed, 2019-05-01 16:49

It was announced recently that German building materials giant Gebr. Knauf KG had completed its acquisition of USG Corporation, paying $7 billion for the gypsum manufacturer.  As the release points out:

“This acquisition creates a global building materials industry leader that will be even better positioned to meet customers’ needs by leveraging two highly complementary businesses, product portfolios and global footprints.”

Their insulation business, Knauff Insulation, purchased Guradian Insulation in 2014, including Guardian Fiberglass and Guradian Laminated Building Products (which was renamed Silvercote, LLC). At the time, the integration of Guardian Insulation more than doubled its production capacity of glass mineral wool fiber.  Knauf also recently announced it was nearing completion of an over £200 million investment into the company’s insulation manufacturing capacity.

The acquisition of USG diversifies Knauf’s product portfolio significantly and creates greater cross-distribution opportunities for Knauf to package both its building insulation and wall board products together.

“This transformational transaction is the largest acquisition in Knauf’s history and, accordingly, presents significant opportunities to create a stronger, more sustainable company for our employees, customers and communities,” said Alexander Knauf, General Partner of Knauf. “We greatly admire USG’s strong brands, leading market positions in North American wallboard and ceilings, and highly talented employee base. We are excited to welcome USG employees to the Knauf family and look forward to working together to accelerate growth and profitability and even better serve our customers.”


Big 10 Headquarters Boasts Cutting-Edge Building Envelope

Wed, 2019-05-01 16:44
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Since its inception in 1895, the Big Ten Conference has pioneered standards of excellence for intercollegiate sports. It should be no surprise then that the design of its headquarters building in Rosemont, Illinois features the construction industry’s highest performing products. In the Midwest, where temperatures can swing 100 degrees between winter and summer, the effectiveness of a building’s envelope, in particular, is a major factor on interior comfort, energy efficiency, and building durability.

Echoing the red brick buildings on the college campuses the Big Ten represents, designers chose a terra cotta rainscreen wall system that creates a striking façade for the 50,000-square-foot building. The tiles themselves are 12 x 48-inch panels with a bright red-orange color and a smooth finish. Their distinctive color is created using a single-clay composition, but there is a range of natural variations that enhance visual interest. The panels weren’t chosen just for their looks though. Each piece incorporates self-supporting extruded clay cleats that eliminate the need for metal support clips during the installation process—reducing costs and install time. 

The terra cotta tiles are only the most exterior of the layers that wrap the Big Ten headquarters’ building envelope. These layers, called an open-joint rainscreen system, allow pressure to be equalized in the space between two exterior wall components so weather elements don’t reach the inner wall (rainscreen), which contains the moisture barrier and other critical components. This makes the building mold and mildew resistant—a huge bonus in an area known for its summer humidity. The panels are attached to exterior cold-formed metal framing, which supports the rainscreen system to resist the wind and snow loads for the Chicago area.

Behind the framing is the workhorse of the wall assembly, a commercial-grade insulation from Portland, ME-based Hunter Panels. The continuous insulation system used was manufactured at the local Hunter plant in Chicago. Continuous insulation, as its name suggests, covers the entire wall surface, with the obvious exception of windows, doors, and fasteners, minimizing heat loss and thermal bridging that is inevitable in systems that only insulate between the studs. Hunter’s Polyiso foam-board insulation with foil facers on both sides offers R-values from 6.3 to 19.5 in a single layer—a marked improvement over other insulation options. Since the insulation panels incorporate the moisture barrier required to protect the building, they also eliminate a step from the installation process.

Even though the construction team was unfamiliar with some of the wall system’s elements before this job, they were able to quickly master the installation techniques. The entire exterior took only six months to install and the Big Ten will be reaping benefits of such a maintenance-free and energy-efficient system for decades to come.


How to Insulate Slab-on-Grade Under ASHRAE 90.1

Wed, 2019-05-01 16:38
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Slab-on-grade insulation. It seems like it should not be so complicated. Yet, slab-on-grade insulation can be arranged in a number of configurations, each with pros and cons. One arrangement may be more conducive to maintaining a continuous thermal barrier from a wall down through its foundation but it allows unsightly exposure along the building perimeter. Another configuration may better conceal the insulation yet it allows an undesirable thermal short along the edge of the slab. A particular solution may provide great continuity of the thermal barrier but be problematic in terms of constructability.

Click to enlarge. 

The prospect of slab-on-grade insulation can become complicated. When it does, project teams will often lean on energy codes and standards to settle the issue.

Slab-on-Grade Insulation Requirements in ASHRAE Standard 90.1

Let's unpack the issue in the context of ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 - Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings.

First, the standard defines two classes of slab-on-grade:

Heated slab-on-grade floor: a slab-on-grade floor with a heating source either within or below it.

Unheated slab-on-grade floor: a slab-on-grade floor that is not a heated slab-on-grade floor.

Heated slabs-on-grade will feature hot water pipes or coils embedded within or beneath the slab to provide space heating. Heat losses from heated slabs are greater than that of unheated slabs because the temperature is warmer. For unheated slabs, insulation may or may not be required depending on your climate zone, whether or not the project is residential, and which edition of Standard 90.1 is being referenced.

The R-value specification in standard defines both the rated R-value of the insulation and the depth or width of the insulation. For example, "R-10 at 36 in." means that insulation with a rated thermal resistance of 10 must be installed and that the insulation must extend a distance of 36 inches form the top surface of the slab.

A review of the Standard 90.1's building envelope prescriptive requirements will reveal a reference to a "maximum assembly F-factor" rather than a U-factor, as one would see for other envelope components.


In contrast to the U-factor for floors, the F-factor for slab-on-grade floors is expressed per linear foot of building perimeter. F-factors are provided for both heated and unheated slabs.

The F-factors are provided for three insulation configurations (verbatim below from the 2016 edition with my emphasis):

Horizontal Insulation: Continuous insulation is applied directly to the underside of the slab and extends inward horizontally from the perimeter for the distance specified, or continuous insulation is applied downward from the top of the slab and then extends horizontally to the interior or the exterior from the perimeter for the distance specified.

Vertical Insulation: Continuous insulation is applied directly to the slab exterior, extending downward from the top of the slab for the distance specified. 

Fully Insulated Slab: Continuous insulation extends downward from the top of the slab and along the entire perimeter and completely covers the entire area under the slab.

The F-factors for slab-on-grade floors are defined in Standard 90.1. Consult Appendix A (Table A6.3.1 in the 2016 edition) for a tabulation of assembly F-factors for slab-on-grade floors based on the arrangement and rated R-value of the applied insulation.

These F-factors are acceptable for all slab-on-grade floors, but you need to make sure the insulation is rated and applied accordingly.

Regarding the rated R-value of insulation on slab-on-grade floors

As clarified in Appendix A of Standard 90.1-2016:

  • The rated R-value of insulation shall be installed around the perimeter of the slab-on-grade floor to the distance specified. Exception: For monolithic slab and footing, the insulation must extend only to the bottom of the footing or the distance specified, whichever is less.
  • Insulation installed inside the foundation wall shall extend downward from the top of the slab a minimum of the distance specified or to the top of the footing, whichever is less.
  • Insulation installed outside the foundation wall shall extend form the top of the slab directly down for the full distance, or at least down to the bottom of the slab and then horizontally until the specified distance is achieved. In all climate zones, the horizontal insulation extending outside of the foundation shall be covered by pavement or by soil a minimum of 10 inches thick.
Sound complicated?

While ASHRAE's performance requirements for slab-on-grade insulation has shifted over time, the basics of the standard's permitted applications of slab-on-grade insulation have remained largely unchanged for the past several editions of Standard 90.1.

In hopes of offering some clarity, the figure below depicts acceptable and unacceptable slab-on-grade insulation applications. This figure is adapted from a similar figure in the ASHRAE's 90.1 User's Guide. (This information applies at least as far back as the 2007 edition of standard. Only two states have an energy code less stringent than Standard 90.1-2007, so I did not dig deeper than the 2007 edition.)

Figure 1: Slab-on-Grade Insulation Applications. Click to enlarge.
Image courtesy of Daniel Overbey. Adapted from the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2007 User's Manual.


Wood Fiber Insulation Startup Buys Production Facility

Wed, 2019-05-01 16:16
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

A Maine-based startup hoping to expand the wood fiber insulation market in the U.S. is in the process of buying a shuttered paper mill and hopes to start production of batt, board and blown in insulation next year.

Fiberboard insulation, long popular in Europe, should have its first U.S. producer by early next year. A Maine-based company plans to overhaul a closed paper mill and ready a new production line for fiberboard. [Photo credit: 475 High Performance Building Supply]

GO Lab, a spinoff of GO Logic in Belfast, Maine, is plunking down roughly $2.5 million for the Madison Paper Industries mill that was closed in 2016 amid the slow deflation of the state’s pulp and paper industry, according to The Portland Press Herald.

Matt McConnell, director of market development, said in a telephone call that the company has purchased used equipment from Germany and can begin setting up a production line as soon as a paper-making machine has been disassembled and removed.

Insulation made from wood fiber is fairly common in Europe but it’s a relatively  expensive and hard-to-find product in the U.S. There are only two known retailers in the country — 475 High Performance Building Supply in New York, which sells German-made Gutex, and Global Wholesale Supply, a Maryland-based company that distributes Steico insulation, which is  manufactured in Poland. GO Lab would become the first producer in the country.

In an interview with GBA in 2017, GO Lab CEO Josh Henry said that wood fiber insulation will make an appealing alternative to rigid foam because it’s made from wood fiber rather than petrochemicals, can be recycled, and can be manufactured sustainably from Maine’s abundant wood fiber resources. Like rigid foam or mineral wool, it can be applied in a continuous layer on the outside of a building to reduce thermal bridging through the structural framing. Fiberboard insulation is not a structural component.

GO Lab hopes to sell the insulation both to lumberyards and to insulation distributors and contractors. Distribution will be mainly in the Northeast, McConnell said, but the company would ship it to buyers elsewhere.

Factory site is in the heart of paper country

Madison, Maine, is a town of about 4,800 in the rural midsection of the state. The mill’s closure in 2016 was part of an industry contraction that saw the number of mills decline and employment fall from its peak of 18,000 workers in the 1960s. The downward trend followed lower demand for newsprint and the type of glossy magazine stock the Madison mill produced.

The end of paper making in Madison was a blow to the community. Two hundred and fourteen people lost their jobs, and the town lost its biggest taxpayer.

But wood products, including paper, remain an important part of Maine’s economy and cultural identify. Industry officials look to non-traditional means of using the state’s forest resources to bring jobs back. If GO Lab can get its business off the ground and make good on Henry’s goal of hiring 110 people, it would be good news on Main Street.

GO Lab has been looking for private sources of money, and won a $100,000 grant last year through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Then, earlier this month, the company was awarded another $750,000 grant, this one from state sources.

McConnell said the company is “feverishly” raising money and would need between $60 million and $65 million to get the operation off the ground. “We’re getting good traction,” he said.

So far, a niche product here

Fiberboard insulation will appeal to builders who want to avoid any type of foam in their roof and wall assemblies. European builders apparently like it, but U.S. builders don’t have ready access to it, and it’s considerably more expensive than rigid foam.

Gutex Multitherm 40 (R-5.8) costs about $1.80 per square foot — nearly three times as much as 1 1/2-inch-thick EPS with the same R-value — and it comes in an odd size that is incompatible with the 4-foot grid used by U.S. builders (although the tongue-and-groove design means seams don’t have to land on framing members).

Gutex Multitherm, meant for application on exterior walls, is sold in thicknesses ranging from 1 9/16 inches to 7 7/8 inches, with R-values from 5.8 to 29.1 respectively. The composition of Multitherm is 1% paraffin, 4% polyurethane, and 95% wood. It has an R-value of 3.7 per inch and a perm rating of 44 in a 1-inch thickness.

Steico’s competing product, called Steico Universal, comes in a variety of thicknesses, with 40 mm (1.57 inches) and 60 mm (2.36 inches) the most popular here, according to a company spokesman. It’s R-value is about 3 per inch, with standard sheets sold here about 7.2 feet by 2.5 feet.

McConnell said that the company hopes to get the price of fiberboard down so that it’s only slightly more expensive that extruded polystyrene (XPS).

As much as current fiberboard retailers like the product, they recognize that it isn’t likely to dethrone rigid foam or fiberglass. “We’re not going to make this a mainstream product,” said Will Grupenhoff, vice president for business development at Global Wholesale Supply. “It’s not going to be a product that winds up in Home Depot.”

But both Grupenhoff and Ken Levenson, 475’s chief operating officer, look forward to a growing market for the product in the U.S. as interest in healthy, low-carbon buildings gains a wider audience.

“Like Passive House and all the players in Passive House, whether you’re window suppliers or airtightness [product] suppliers or insulation suppliers, all these different efforts to grow the market and the availability of these products is going to help everyone,” Levenson said. “It’s going to make a more dynamic and more mature industry to serve the market.”

Levenson said that fiberboard insulation is a good fit with mass timber construction because it uses waste that would otherwise be burned or used in another product with a shorter carbon cycle. “It’s real value added in terms of the climate fight in that way,” he said. Other benefits include excellent sound attenuation and workability.


ICC CEO Sims: ANSI is “Highest Possible Standard” for Approvals

Mon, 2019-04-29 11:02
Building Codes

In an April 15, 2019 article the International Code Council had the following to say about American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accreditation:

Certified Once
Accepted Everywhere

“Recognized across borders, ANSI accreditation is critical to public health, national security, safety and the environment. While certification agencies are not mandated to receive ANSI accreditation, accreditation by ANSI under its consensus and due process-based system provides certification organizations with an exemplary level of integrity, distinction and trust.”

“The ANSI accreditation reflects the Code Council’s commitment to pursue the highest possible standard,” said Michelle Porter, director of the ICC Assessment Center, “This mark of distinction demonstrates that the Code Council has the necessary competencies and has undergone a rigorous accreditation process.”

“The ANSI accreditation reflects the Code Council’s commitment to pursue the highest possible standard,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “This mark of distinction demonstrates the Code Council has the necessary competencies and has undergone a rigorous accreditation process. Accredited certification programs are essential to maintaining public health and safety, which is at the core of the Code Council’s mission.”

“The Code Council is proud to receive the ANSI accreditation,” commented Code Council Board President William R. Bryant, MCP, CBO. “We provide the professional development services for the building safety industry, and this recognition is an acknowledgment of our exceptional
products and services.”

“ANSI is the official U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, via the U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Accreditation from ANSI is recognized globally as government bodies look to ANSI accreditation programs to distinguish among certification programs.

Government officials, such as building officials,  are charged with enforcing adopted regulations. For alternative products and services a research report is typically required to be provided by approved agency. IBC Chapter 17 section 1703.1 defines approved agency requirements.

As ICC states above the ANSI mark of distinction provides building officials what they need to know to approve an ANSI accredited agency’s technical evaluation report. Why? ANSI demonstrated that each accredited agency has the necessary competencies and has undergone a rigorous accreditation process as defined in IBC chapter 17. Accordingly, the agency meets all code compliance regulations.

What is true of ANSI is also true of professional engineers through accepted engineering practice or engineered designs. Professional engineers are certified and licensed through individual state laws through a series of state legal requirements. When a seal and signature is applied, the sealing process is equivalent to or better than an ANSI certification. This is because a P.E. and their company stand behind their work.

Finally, the ANSI certification can be used to obtain product or service approval in any country that is an IAF MLA Signatory. The IAF MLA evaluation is a rigorous accreditation process that expects “certified once, accepted everywhere.” Companies can go to jurisdictions in any IAF MLA Signatory Country and be approved by authorities having jurisdiction using ANSI’s accreditation.

For additional information, please read the following articles:

  1. Is an “ANSI 17065 Report” equal to an "ICC Report"?
  2. Do Building Officials have Legal Authority over a P.E.'s Work?



Commentary on Term Authority Having Jurisdiction

Mon, 2019-04-29 10:22
Building Codes

What is the definition of authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) found in the building code, and what does this definition mean? The 2018 set of building codes does not provides a definition for AHJ. Therefore, this term will need to be defined using the dictionary or as a term defined in another code. Fortunately, the Building Code 2015 of New York State or the Uniform Code (UC)  helps by providing a definition as follows:

Section 107 Administration and Enforcement
107.1 Definitions

“Authority Having Jurisdiction” means the governmental unit or agency responsible for administration and enforcement of the Uniform Code.

It is then clear that the definition of AHJ is identical to that of building official. A commentary for both definitions is provided in the article entitled, “Key Construction Industry Definition - Building Official.”

Fighting to Keep the Law Free

UpCodes is using AI to make compliance with the law easier and cheaper. This will result in safer and more affordable housing. Open access to the law is an important part of reaching that goal. SBCA supports UpCodes in its defense of Americans' constitutional right to freely read their own laws and the make this easy through innovation.

For additional information and commentary on building code definitions, please read the following articles:


Commentary on Term Building Official

Mon, 2019-04-29 10:11
Building Codes

What is the definition of building official found in the building code, and what does this definition mean? The place to begin to address key definitions, which may be understood differently through interpretation, is from source documents where adoption into law occurs. The 2018 International Building Codes (IBC) provides the definition of Building Official as follows:

[A] BUILDING OFFICIAL. The officer or other designated authority charged with the administration and enforcement of this code, or a duly authorized representative.

The procedures for “administration” are defined in Chapter 1 of the building code and are further defined as follows:

Section 104 Duties and Powers of Building Official

[A] 104.1 General

The building official is hereby authorized and directed to enforce the provisions of this code. The building official shall have the authority to render interpretations of this code and to adopt policies and procedures in order to clarify the application of its provisions. Such interpretations, policies and procedures shall be in compliance with the intent and purpose of this code. Such policies and procedures shall not have the effect of waiving requirements specifically provided for in this code.

[A] 105.3.1 Action on application

The building official shall examine or cause to be examined applications for permits and amendments thereto within a reasonable time after filing. If the application or the construction documents do not conform to the requirements of pertinent laws, the building official shall reject such application in writing, stating the reasons therefor. If the building official is satisfied that the proposed work conforms to the requirements of this code and laws and ordinances applicable thereto, the building official shall issue a permit therefor as soon as practicable.

The following commentary is intended to amplify the foregoing language:

A building official’s role is to administer and enforce the words as used   in each section of the code, in the context of the specific code compliance application. This is challenging because there may be multiple sections of the code that often need to be applied to have proper context.

The building official shall examine all aspects of the construction project for compliance with the specific charging language and scope of the section of the code being implemented.

If anything within the construction project is non-conforming with respect to the requirements of the pertinent laws, or clarifications provided through interpretation or policy, the building official shall reject non-conformances in writing, providing the reasons the code sections are non-compliant.

Implied is that the written rejection will provide:

  1. Specific evidence of non-conformance, and
  2. Enough information to be able to understand the non-conformance based on the evidence provided, and
  3. A clear and easy-to-understand pathway to cure non-compliance.

Implied here is the fact that not everything needed to enforce the code is going to be written in the code. Hence, alternatives will need to be provided and an evaluation made regarding whether or not various products and services meet the intent of the code. The typical policy and procedure for alternative approval is as follows:

  1. registered design professional (RDP) or approved source provide an accepted engineering analysis or research report and signs and certifies their belief that the issue being dealt with conforms to the code.
  2. research report, also known as a technical evaluation and is provided by an ANSI ISO/IEC 17065 Accredited Product Certification Body and is often generically called an “ICC Report.”

Fighting to Keep the Law Free

UpCodes is using AI to make compliance with the law easier and cheaper. This will result in safer and more affordable housing. Open access to the law is an important part of reaching that goal. SBCA supports UpCodes in its defense of Americans' constitutional right to freely read their own laws and the make this easy through innovation.

For additional information and commentary on building code definitions, please read the following articles:


Commentary on Words/Terms Used in the Building Code

Mon, 2019-04-29 09:57
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Good communication requires a common understanding of the words that we are using. As everyone knows, communication can easily become miscommunication when the same word is being used but the intent behind the words is different. The building code addresses how we should use words in Section 201 as follows:

201.1 Scope

Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following words and terms shall, for the purposes of this code, have the meanings shown in this chapter. 

201.2 Interchangeability

Words used in the present tense include the future; words stated in the masculine gender include the feminine and neuter; the singular number includes the plural and the plural, the singular. 

201.3 Terms defined in other codes

Where terms are not defined in this code and are defined in the International Energy Conservation CodeInternational Fuel Gas CodeInternational Fire CodeInternational Mechanical Code or International Plumbing Code, such terms shall have the meanings ascribed to them as in those codes. 

201.4 Terms not defined 

Where terms are not defined through the methods authorized by this section, such terms shall have ordinarily accepted meanings such as the context implies.

Fortunately, the building code is clear on how we should be managing words. When a word is not defined in the building code, yet needed a contextual definition, SBC Magazine will link to to provide a definition.   

Fighting to Keep the Law Free

UpCodes is using AI to make compliance with the law easier and cheaper. This will result in safer and more affordable housing. Open access to the law is an important part of reaching that goal. SBCA supports UpCodes in its defense of Americans' constitutional right to freely read their own laws and the make this easy through innovation.

For additional information and commentary on building code definitions, please read the following articles:


Video: Home Builder Compares Common Sheathing Options

Wed, 2019-04-24 21:23
Energy EfficiencyHousing & Construction

In the video below, Austin, Texas, home builder Matt Risinger takes a look at the comparative install labor and cost of, "OSB vs. PLYWOOD vs. ZIP vs. ZIP-R."  Risinger states, "If you are building a home, one of your first choices you’ll need to make is which sheathing to use for your walls."  Matt reviews the common options that he uses for a well built home and talks about specific cost per sheet and for a whole house.



Building Technologies Office 2019 Peer Review

Wed, 2019-04-24 16:01
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

EERE's Building Technology Office (BTO) has released its 2018 BTO Peer Review Report and announced the 2019 BTO Peer Review will take place April 15–18, 2019.

The introduction in the report states the following: 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Technologies Office (BTO) collaborates with industry, academia, national laboratories, and other leaders across the building sector to develop innovative, cost-effective, energy-saving solutions for U.S. buildings, which are the single largest energy-consuming sector in the nation. Residential and commercial buildings account for more than 74% of the nation’s electricity use and 39% of total energy demand, resulting in an estimated national energy bill totaling more than $395 billion annually.1,2,3 BTO’s long-term goal is to reduce the energy intensity of homes and commercial buildings by 50% or more through the application of cost-effective efficiency technologies that reduce energy waste and yield substantial net economic benefits.

Reducing building energy use per square foot, or energy use intensity (EUI), helps conserve valuable natural resources and strengthen the U.S. economy by creating jobs, improving the productivity of businesses, and helping make energy more affordable for families and businesses. In addition to saving energy, certain BTO technologies and activities also benefit the United States in other ways. For example, BTO’s early-stage research and development (R&D) of advanced and transactive controls helps enable industry to develop and deploy GridInteractive Efficient Buildings that are capable of connecting with the power grid in new and increasingly adaptive manners to help with overall energy system efficiency, resiliency, and reducing energy prices. BTO’s collaborative research activities also spurs U.S. energy dominance and economic competiveness through scientific and engineering leadership and supports workforce development for researchers and other in STEM fields.

To ensure BTO projects are relevant, effective, and productively assisting the Office in meeting its goals, BTO conducts an annual Peer Review. Peer Review is a formal, documented evaluation process that uses objective criteria and qualified independent reviewers to judge the technical, scientific, or business merit; the actual or anticipated results; and the productivity and effectiveness of BTO-funded projects. Knowledge about the quality and effectiveness of current BTO projects and programs is essential in enhancing existing efforts and designing future programs. The BTO Peer Review is open to the public and provides an opportunity to learn more about BTO’s portfolio as well as promote collaborations and partnerships.

Read the Full Report


A Look at Unusual Bio-Based Insulation Materials

Wed, 2019-04-24 15:07
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

This TreeHugger has often written about how we should be building out of sunshine, using natural materials with low upfront carbon emissions in their manufacture. Now Blaine Brownell of Architect Magazine explores bio-based materials for insulation. He notes, as we have, that insulation "is drawing scrutiny and disagreement within sustainable design circles."

Cellulose insulation in a prefabbed passivhaus wall

Generally speaking, the higher the R-value, the more energy saved (depending on the climate). However, increased focus on material performance—referring here to the intrinsic environmental properties of materials—points to two concerns in the most common insulation types: embodied energy and toxicity.

He notes the toxicity of the ingredients going into foams, and doesn't even mention the dangers from flame retardants that leach out or the products of combustion when they burn. But he does conclude that "although strong support will undoubtedly continue for all of these materials, we should seek the highest environmental performance in both embodied and operating phases (or more holistically, all phases) of the material life cycle."

Rock wool on my house, where I needed a noncombustible insulation

There are insulations that are not made from fossil fuels, but still take a lot of energy to make, like rock wool and fiberglass. That's one reason Brownell pitches the benefits of cellulose, including some interesting statistics:

“Based on our calculations of the most recent statistics from the American Forest and Paper Association, approximately 1,126,330 pounds of paper become waste about every 10 minutes in the United States,” said Dan Lea, executive director of the Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association, in a press release. “Recycled as cellulose insulation, that’s enough paper to insulate 220 energy-efficient new homes every 10 minutes.”

It certainly makes a lot more sense to recycle newspaper than it does to convert fossil fuels into foam. Brownell also likes recycled denim insulation. I am not so crazy about it; it is often installed poorly and they show little children playing on it when it is full of borax and the MSDS forms say you should be wearing masks. I have heard of people with chemical sensitivities reacting to chemicals from dryer sheets that left residues in the denim.

But he also describes new and interesting research into other insulations:

According to the researchers, nearly 62,000 metric tons of duvets and pillows are discarded annually, particularly from hospitals. In the United Kingdom, the production of wheat flour results in about 7 million metric tons of straw, half of which is thrown away. “It is estimated this 'leftover' 3.8 million tons of straw could be used to build over 500,000 new homes, solving the U.K. housing shortage within five years,” the scientists claim in a University of Bath press release. Corn stalks may also be utilized more effectively, with a quantity of 420,000 metric tons of corn pith—the internal portion of the stalk—produced annually.

I am not so sure about old hospital pillows and duvets, and think that they might be the first waste-to-energy fuels that I approve of. Straw, cellulose and corn stalks, however, certainly meet our criteria for building out of sunshine. As Brownell concludes, "When considering material health and embodied carbon in combination with insulating value, repurposed biobased materials can’t be beat." I concur.


Chart Compares Benefits of Spray Foam and Batt Insulation

Wed, 2019-04-24 14:37
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Spray foam insulation is an energy efficient solution, which can offer a sizeable return on your client's insulation investment compared to traditional fiberglass insulation. With the money your clients will save in energy costs, the more energy efficient spray foam insulation pays for itself within a few years.

In addition, spray foam insulation will out-perform traditional fiberglass insulation in every way, and will remain intact and last for the life of the home or building*. Spray foam will continue to efficiently insulate, whereas traditional fiberglass sags and settles causing it to no longer perform at its original R-value. Many homeowners are also concerned about the environment and this is a tremendous option to help reduce their impact on the environment.


New Cornerstone Building Brands Created Through Merger

Wed, 2019-04-24 14:33

NCI Building Systems, which recently merged with Ply Gem Building Products, will operate as Cornerstone Building Brands, effective May 24, 2019, according to a news release. Cornerstone Building Brands makes and sells windows, vinyl siding, insulated metal panels, metal roofing and wall systems, and metal accessories.

The Cornerstone Building Brands name represents a “unified commitment to business transformation that will drive future growth and effectively serve customers and communities across North America,” according to the news release. The term Cornerstone “emphasizes the essential role the company’s products and solutions play in residential and commercial projects.”

"We are dedicated to our customers and well positioned to lead the residential and commercial markets as Cornerstone Building Brands, and to make positive contributions to the places where people live, work, and play," said James S. Metcalf, chairman of the board and CEO. "Through continued operational excellence and innovation, Cornerstone Building Brands is creating industry solutions that will become the cornerstone of countless communities. Our all-encompassing transformation will drive sales, efficiencies, customer satisfaction and enhance employee and community support."

The company said it is also dedicated to implementing and executing several community-focused programs including the Home for Good project, a campaign that will continue to serve as a key corporate initiative and has helped build and remodel more than 500 homes in 90 communities across the United States since 2016.

NCI Building Systems and Ply Gem first entered an agreement to combine in a stock-for-stock merger on July 17, 2018. The merger was completed on November 19, 2018 with each entity preserving its existing established brands. The new Cornerstone Building Brands is headquartered in Cary, N.C., but upon merging the combined company said it would continue to have a significant presence in Houston, Texas, the previous headquarters of NCI Building Systems.

ACC Honors Covestro’s PURWall Product Safety

Wed, 2019-04-24 14:30

For the fourth year running, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) recognized Covestro LLC with a Responsible Care® Product Safety Award. The company, a leading producer of high-performance polymers in North America, received the award at the ACC's annual Responsible Care®Conference & Expo, held recently in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Covestro was one of four companies to receive a Responsible Care®Product Safety Award, which recognizes member organizations that have excelled at driving continuous improvement in chemical product safety. The company was honored for its PUReWall™offering, which addresses challenges related to traditional spray polyurethane foam application in the residential construction market.

Covestro was also one of 49 companies to earn the Responsible Care® Facility Safety Award, presented to member companies for achievements in employee health and safety performance.

"Product safety, stewardship and sustainability are woven into the core of our business, and for good reason," said Jerry MacCleary, chairman and CEO, Covestro LLC. "I believe being recognized for the fourth consecutive year for the Product Safety Award is a powerful affirmation that our people are consistently solving industry challenges by applying safe and sustainable solutions in innovative ways."

Designed for residential construction, PUReWall™ panels are manufactured at a panelization facility in a controlled environment and installed at the construction site. This structural, high-performance wall replaces traditional exterior sheathing with polyisocyanurate rigid foam board and uses a new closed cell spray polyurethane foam formulation that results in a highly structural and energy-efficient panel.

"PUReWall™ is a faster, cost efficient, and safer alternative to stick-built housing that is sprayed in the field," said Lisa Marie Nespoli, manager, Product Safety & Stewardship, Covestro LLC. She explains that PUReWall™ panels are manufactured in a controlled environment, which eliminates field exposure to chemicals, improves application conditions and allows the panels to fully cure prior to installation. The panels are measured, assembled, insulated and sent ready for installation, which reduces jobsite waste and increases worker productivity.

At the annual Responsible Care® Conference & Expo, the ACC honors chemical industry leaders for outstanding work in chemical management, including environmental, health, safety and security performance. Award winners qualify based on exemplary performance and are selected by a committee made up of internal and external experts. The Responsible Care® Awards Program was developed to recognize companies that exemplified leadership and outstanding performance based on the implementation and execution of the Responsible Care® program.


Kingspan Moves to Buy Recticel’s Insulation Unit

Wed, 2019-04-24 14:26

Irish building material manufacturer Kingspan Group has made an offer to buy Recticel NV/SA's insulation and flexible foams divisions for $791 million.

The offer, subject to approval by the board of Belgium-based Recticel and the usual regulatory officials, was disclosed April 16.

"There can be no certainty that the offer ... will result in an agreement being concluded or, if concluded, receiving regulatory approvals," the Kingscourt-based company said.

Kingspan also said that it had entered into an exclusive back-to-back agreement with a third party for the disposal of Recticel's flexible foams business, if the deal is completed.

The Irish group has been on the acquisition trail lately, spending over $700.5 million for 10 acquisitions over the past two years.

The largest of these deals was the acquisition, in March 2017, of the Spanish polyurethanes business, Synthesia International, Poliuretanos and Huurre, which the group said would give it a leading position in both insulated panels and insulation boards on the Iberian Peninsula.


Court Reaffirms HFC Case

Wed, 2019-04-24 14:23
Energy Efficiency

On April 5, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a per curium judgment reaffirming its decision from last year that the EPA was not authorized to regulate hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) under the Clean Air Act. The EPA published these rules under the Obama administration that would phase down HFCs to align with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.