Energy Efficiency and Building Science News

Why Spray Foam in Metal Wall Assemblies is on the Rise

Tue, 2019-02-26 12:57

There is little doubt that the use of foam plastic insulation in metal building exterior roof and wall assemblies is on the rise. 

Over the last few years, I’ve been asked many questions about the use of spray and board foam plastic insulation in metal buildings.  There is little doubt that the use of foam plastic insulation in metal building exterior roof and wall assemblies is on the rise.  This has been driven by several factors, including:

  • Increased minimum performance thresholds in the newer building energy efficiency codes
  • Decreased rated capacity of fiberglass systems in the newer building energy efficiency codes
  • Lower cost of foam plastic insulation created by increasing competition
  • Increased popularity and affordability of spray foam systems

However, simply substituting R-value-for-R-value of insulation systems cannot be done.  Many complications to the metal building envelope design are introduced when foam plastic insulation is used.  Examples of these include:

  • Special fire protection requirements
  • Implications to structural design of secondary framing
  • Installation challenges, particularly with through-fastened roofs
  • Difficulty in evaluating in-place performance levels (i.e., U-factor determination)
  • Thermal expansion and contraction concerns (particularly with spray-foam)

This is just to name a few.  The first point is of primary consideration and will be the subject of the remainder of this blog. Structural issues will be addressed in a future entry.  But before we get into this, it’s important to remember that occupant safety is the absolute highest priority consideration in building design.  While thermal performance is important, nothing can compromise occupant safety and fire protection sits atop the list with structural capacity as a close second.

Spray Foam Provides Cost-Effective Insulation Solution

Tue, 2019-02-26 12:48

Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects was called in to design a retreat home for its clients’ property in Methow Valley, Wash. A modest wish list and a restricted budget resulted in a 1100-sq.-ft. modern ranch-style house with an attached one-car garage. Though sustainable-design features and systems can be expensive, it was important to the clients that they be included where possible. The team identified areas that would offer short- and long-term cost savings. They made the cabin’s footprint as small as would be comfortable, and they used in-floor radiant heating. A combination of blown-in and spray-foam insulation at the roof and walls helped to achieve a supertight building envelope, and passive-solar design strategies included heated concrete floors and deep overhangs, which minimize the need to condition the interior spaces. Indulgences were chosen for their strength of impact. The modest-size great room enjoys the luxury of a double-sided fireplace clad in steel panels and a proportionally large amount of glazing. The 785-sq.-ft. deck was justified because the clients were equally interested in outdoor spaces and knew it would get good use.

The Benefits of Spray Foaming Roof Rafters

Tue, 2019-02-26 12:43
Ask the Carpenter: Where you should insulate may surprise you

Q. I have an attic that was just remediated for vermiculite insulation. It is wide open. A company said I should insulate the roof rafters instead of the joists (the floor) and board up the ridge and gable vents. I have never heard of this. I have a new air-conditioning unit, so maybe it won’t be as hot in the summer this way (heat rises), but heating the attic doesn’t sound very economical in the long run. Please advise.


A. I just did this same thing on a project; I used spray foam insulation on the rafters and left the floor uninsulated. There are several benefits to doing this.

Adding insulation to the rafters and gable walls will hinder the transfer of heat between the living quarters of your home and the attic.

In the winter, heat rises and passes into the attic through the ceiling by conduction or radiation, or through direct air leaks. If your attic is not insulated at the rafters, that heat is lost and ice dams could form. Lost heat also causes your furnace to run longer.

In summer, a hot attic will radiate heat into the rooms below, making your air-conditioning run longer or cycle more often, causing more wear and tear on the unit.

Spray-foam insulation overhead in the rafters creates a conditioned attic space, while insulation in the floor system creates an unconditioned attic area.

If you have an HVAC unit or ductwork in the attic, then those are exposed to both temperature extremes. In the summer, hot ductwork takes away cool air inside the piping. In the winter, cold ductwork takes away from the warm air inside, and you run the risk of frozen pipes.

You won’t be wasting heat by not insulating the floor. If you are still concerned, use spray-foam insulation on the rafters and Fiberglas insulation on the floor to separate your home and attic heating zones.


Q. My husband and I incorporated a pantry and an enclosed back porch into a kitchen gut renovation many years ago, putting on a 4-by-4-foot addition and squaring off the back porch to the house. There’s no foundation under the addition. It abuts our home’s foundation on one side and the bulkhead’s foundation on another. The other sides are open with a concrete support post between them. The floor that overhangs this space gets really cold in the winter, so we thought it would help to “enclose’’ the addition. Our thoughts to accomplish this:

  • Lay heavy mil plastic on the ground as a moisture barrier and put concrete pavers on top to keep it in place (not sure the pavers are really needed);
  • Dig a small trench on the two open sides and lay concrete blocks from the ground up to the floor of the addition (cementing between layers and between blocks — probably three layers worth of blocks – like a foundation but not built down into the ground);
  • Fill the area with Fiberglas batting or some other more appropriate insulating material;
  • Seal the exterior blocks with a skimcoat of concrete.

The house was built in 1907 and has a fieldstone basement. That stone is exposed above grade with a skimcoat of concrete.

What do you think we should do?


A. Your approach would fail over time. I would open the floor cavity from below, add spray-foam insulation, close it up with ½-inch pressure-treated plywood, and call it a day. You can also apply spray foam to the rim joist in the basement to prevent air leaks around the fieldstone and house sill.

I would also look for ways to bump up the heat in your kitchen. Area rugs also help.

Rob Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter, editor of, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business.

Chart: OSB Prices Continue to Decline in January 2019

Wed, 2019-02-20 17:03
Raw Materials

For the third consecutive month, OSB prices (NSA) declined the most in percentage terms (-6.1%).  Prices paid for OSB have decreased nearly 30% since October 2018 and have fallen more than 40% since hitting their most recent peak in June 2018. The post-peak price trends of OSB and softwood lumber are shown below.

Video: Improve Residential Walls with Continuous Insulation

Wed, 2019-02-20 16:59
Building CodesBuilding ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Continuous Insulation (CI) is now defined in the IBC as follows: "Insulating material that is continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings. It is installed on the interior or exterior, or is integral to any opaque surface of the building envelope."

Today CI is virtually required in commercial construction.  But residential walls, typically framed with wood, not steel, have less of an issue with thermal bridging.  So is the use of CI on these types of structures worth it?  Absolutely!  CI will  improve any wall, particulary if the goal is to have the perfect energy efficient wall.

While you might not need to replace all of the cavity insulation of a wood-framed wall with continuous insulation, even just a thin layer makes a big difference.  By enclosing the framing members in insulation, you are keeping them from larger temperature fluctuations that can promote condensation and the adverse effects that take place when wood is wet for long periods of time.  Also, continuous insulation can often be used as an all-in-one WRB, air barrier and vapor retarder, simplifying construction.  To learn about these applications and more, visit for research reports, step-by-step guides, articles, and helpful tools like the wood wall calculator.

As an introduction, here’s a short video explaining the basics of wood-framed wall design:

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

Guide for Choosing the Right Caulks & Sealants

Wed, 2019-02-20 16:49
Building Science

Editor's Note: The follow article was written by Mark Platz, industrial business manager, ITW Polymer Sealants North America, Irving, Texas

Caulks and sealants are used in metal construction to fill gaps and cracks. They are a barrier to prevent the passage of air, water, moisture, gas, noise, dust and smoke. Generally representing less than 1 percent of a building's cost, they are extremely important to the water/airtightness of the building. For this reason, correct selection based on properties and applications is important to the weathertightness of the building envelope.


Caulks typically are associated with filling gaps that do not experience much expansion or contraction, and are used to prepare for painting. They are rigid and inflexible. In metal construction, caulks are used on the interior filling gaps between drywall, windows and trim, or casework before paint is applied.

"The word caulk is an old boat building term and is sometimes used by manufacturers as a general purpose term for acrylic materials with little or no movement capability," says Jason Bakus, vice president of Sealex Inc., Harbor Springs, Mich. "Acrylic latex caulks are normally paintable with water-based or solvent-based paints, but are not generally used in metal construction due to the amount of shrinkage they experience as well as their tendency to crack over time. Most manufacturers refer to their elastomeric sealing products as sealants."

Tale of the Tape

Butyl tapes are most commonly used to seal the side- and end-laps of standard single-skin panels. Butyl tape is a non-curing, 100-percent -solids compound that is a highly rubbery, tacky sealant which remains permanently flexible. Butyl tapes are packaged in rolls or strips with a removable release liner for easy handling and application. Butyl tapes are soft and pliable and are designed to compress between overlapping panels to form a positive seal. With elongation values greater than 1,000 percent, butyl tapes can last for 25-plus years and are compatible with all painted metals including but not limited to Galvalume-, Zincalume- and Kynar-coated products. With application temperatures between -5 F to 120 F and service temperatures from -40 F to 200 F, they are routinely used in all climates. Although butyl tapes exhibit excellent UV characteristics, proper application would not require them to be exposed to direct sunlight. Also, antimicrobial additives are used by some manufacturers to inhibit the growth of molds and mildew.


Sealants play a vital role in metal construction and act as a seal between metal and other exterior materials to form a barrier for infiltration or exfiltration of moisture, air and airborne particles.

"Sealants are used when there is a high likelihood of expansion, contraction or movement between the metal substrates and are designed with polymers allowing flexibility," says Dr. Roger Moore, director of marketing and product support manager, Novagard Solutions Inc., Cleveland. "Sealants like Novaflex metal roof sealant serve in a number of roles in metal construction including structural glazing as well as any application where a seam between two metal substrates come together and a flexible watertight seal is required."

Sealants are used in many different applications in metal construction ranging from standing seams, metal end laps, roof penetrations and curbs to expansion joints, roof to wall transitions, roof steps and height changes, ridge expansions, gutter seams and many others.

Metal panels create a couple of distinct challenges for sealants. "First, metals expand and contract with changes in temperature, so joints with metal panels definitely experience dynamic movement," says Bee Miller, manager of market development, Architectural Specifications, Franklin International- Titebond Adhesives and Sealants, Columbus, Ohio. "Additionally, because many of the most common paints and surface coatings in the industry are designed to last for a long time, some of the specialty coatings can be challenging to bond to and maintain a strong bond with."


Silicone sealants provide excellent joint movement capabilities (ASTM C920, Classes 25, 35, 50 and 100/50) up to 50 percent. Silicone sealants offer superior adhesion to common building material substrates including glass, aluminum, wood, steel, vinyl and masonry. However, a primer is recommended for use on some substrates, particularly cementious substrates. "Documented studies on the long-term performance of silicone sealants have been published by the major manufacturers and indicate performance in excess of 20 years in terms of resistance to moisture, oxidation, high temperatures and UV exposure," says Moore. "These products are not recommended in high-traffic areas where abrasion may cause degradation of the surface. Application temperatures of silicone sealants far exceed those of inferior polymeric sealants and often range as low as -20 F to +140 F and also have large service temperature ranges such as -40 F to +400 F."

Most silicone formulations are not paintable; however, modified silicone sealants may be paintable. Silicone sealants may stain some porous substrates such as concrete and some natural stone substrates. Silicone sealants are well known for their ease of application and clean up. They are typically 100 percent solids, or non-solvent type, and easily meet VOC environmental regulations, are not flammable and clean up easily after use.

Pre-cured silicone sealants-or silicone membranes as they are sometimes called-are commonly used in a variety of metal building applications. "Because of their ultra-high movement capability (200 percent plus) and unique properties, they are used for sealing high movement areas on metal building applications such as expansion joints, roof to wall transitions, roof height change details, joints between new and existing buildings, ridge applications and others, including a variety of repair applications," Bakus says. "Pre-cured sealants are bonded to metal and other substrates using a separate adhesive and require no fasteners."

In the past, there has been some concern with compatibility of some silicone sealants with metals such as Galvalume and galvanized. "This issue was with acetoxy (acid-based) cure products, which are no longer used in metal construction applications," Bakus says. "Neutral cure silicone sealants have been used in metal construction applications for many years and do not pose corrosion problems with these metals."


Not used as commonly as silicones, polyurethane sealants offer superior joint movement capabilities and have good adhesion to most common building substrates. Polyurethanes for the metal building industry are generally one-component, moisture-cure sealants designed to skin and cure rapidly. Premium polyurethanes are specified due to their superior UV resistance and long term durability.

Builders should select a polyurethane with a minimum of 50 percent joint movement: +/- 25 percent. "Selection of polyurethane can depend on substrate," says Mark Platz, industrial business manager, ITW Polymer Sealants North America, Irving, Texas. "With today's specialized coatings, not all polyurethanes adhere the same to all surfaces. While some can adhere to wet surfaces or even underwater, others may require a primer or pretreatment depending on the substrate. Premium polyurethanes remain flexible with life expectancies reaching 20-plus years depending on exposure to extreme elements. They cure to a tough, durable, elastic consistency with excellent cut-and-tear resistance, come in a variety of colors, and most are paintable.

"With service temperatures from -40 F to 200 F and elongation availabilities of 500 to 600 percent polyurethanes are frequently requested by the metal building contractor. Polyurethanes are available in gun grade (cartridges) and can be non-sag or self-leveling. They are easy to tool for an aesthetically clean finish. When applied in close proximity, neutral cure silicones can prevent polyurethanes from curing. This problem does not exist if either product is allowed to cure prior to application of the other."

Typically polyurethanes exhibit good compatibility with the metal and masonry surfaces; however, "They should not be used in structural glazing applications with contact with glass," cautions Moore. "These sealants can be formulated to give aboveaverage UV resistance and may be paintable. Some formulations contain solvent, and shrinkage due to solvent evaporation must be taken into consideration." Some health professionals recommend wearing respirators during application.

Solvent based

The most common solvent-based synthetic rubber sealants are acrylic. They are most often used in perimeter sealing or other low joint movement applications. They may need special handing due to flammability and they have environmental considerations. "Solvent-based sealants typically have good durability and can be applied at below freezing temperatures," says Miller. "They are typically paintable but only after a seven- to 14-day full-cure period. They are flammable in the wet state, can be difficult to tool due to short open times, and can produce a significant odor during application and cure time."

Butyl sealants

Non-skinning, non-drying (Butyl) sealants are the primary sealant in standing seam roofs and the joints of insulated metal panels. Designed to stay soft and flexible, they ensure a positive seal when jointing roof or wall panels. They should exhibit a non-stringy consistency with easy cut-off characteristics for clean application.

"Butyl sealants are easily pumped into the female leg of standing seam roof panels and are compatible with all current types of paints and coatings used by today's rollformers," says Platz. "This product does not cure like standard pumpable sealants, allowing for movement, self-healing, and can offer a life expectancy equal to that of the roof system. This sealant requires an application temperature range of 10 F to 120 F and a service temperature range of -60 F to 200 F. This is a non-curing sealant, therefore it is not paintable, is supplied in white or off-white (color) and is used in conjunction with mechanical fasteners."

The hybrids

Within the past few years, hybrid sealants such as modified silicone (MS) (silyated polyether) and SPUR (silyated polyurethane) have come onto the construction market and claim the best qualities of both silicone (UV resistance) and polyurethane (paintability). Hybrid sealant use in metal construction is minimal at this time, but is growing.

"Common hybrids used are tested to withstand +/-50 percent expansion/contraction," says Miller. "Hybrid life expectancy is generally very good. Appearance and UV resistance are very good, and they are typically paintable if discoloring occurs from weathering over time. They handle and tool nicely and have low to no odor."


When selecting caulks and sealants, evaluate all performance characteristics to determine the optimum sealant against the cost. Discuss your sealant applications with the manufacturer to determine the best product for each application as there is no one product for all applications. Compatibility with the substrate may require different curing mechanisms.



Demilec’s Heatlok Spray Foam Up for ‘Best Green Product’

Wed, 2019-02-20 16:43
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Demilec® Inc. announces Heatlok HFO has been nominated for the National Association of Home Builders’ 2019 Best of IBS Award in the Best Green Building Product category. It will compete against several other environmentally conscious products in the building materials industry.

The winner will be announced on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Last Vegas. Each year IBS, hosted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), boasts an attendance of more than 70,000.

Demilec’s Heatlok HFO family of products uses a blowing agent with ultra-low global warming potential and Zero Ozone Depleting potential. Heatlok HFO High Lift and Heatlok HFO Pro recently won the coveted 2018 CPI Innovation Award and 2018 Home Builder Executive Gold Innovation award for their high R-values of 7.5/inch and 7.4/inch, respectively. Heatlok HFO High Lift can be sprayed at 6.5” for an R-49 in a single pass. While Heatlok HFO Pro is a certified ABAA air barrier, ideal of continuous insulation sprayed on the home’s exterior.   

Aside from thermal efficiency, both products feature other environmental benefits. Heatlok HFO products are composted of 12.5% post-consumer waste. To date, Demilec has been responsible for recycling more than 400 million plastic bottles for manufacturing. Heatlok HFO creates no job site waste and is sprayed from reusable bottles.

Demilec recently announced that both products are radon gas resistant and can be used in place of a conventional plastic membrane around the exposed foundation of a new or restoration building project. It is also 11 times more thermally efficient than the conventional membrane.

“Demilec is excited Heatlok HFO Insulating Spray Foam has been nominated for the Best Green Building Product by NAHB. Demilec’s dedication to sustainability and utilization of recycled PET in our foam has been a core focus of our product development,” according to Douglas Brady, VP of Product Management and Technology at Demilec. “Now, combined with a 4th generation HFO blowing agent, we have significantly reduced the greenhouse gas impact of spray foam while continuing to protect the ozone.”

Kingspan CI Creates Home with HERS Rating of Zero

Wed, 2019-02-20 16:40
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Kingspan Insulation is focused on bringing innovative building performance solutions in energy efficiency and moisture management products to builders, contractors and architects. By improving the building envelope, energy loss can be reduced and Kingspan has expanded its insulation product lines over the past 2 years to continue to offer the market a wide variety of solutions for wood frame, steel frame, residential and commercial construction.

This year, Kingspan sponsored NAHB's The New American Remodel™ 2019 as well as the KB Home ProjeKt. Both homes incorporated Kingspan Kooltherm premium performance insulation boards, in a continuous insulation and friction-fit applications respectively, allowing for increased energy efficiencies with the KB Home ProjeKt at a RESNET HERS rating of zero.

"We wanted to partner with the show home builders to create case studies on sustainable building practices, building performance and health & wellness," said Suzanne Diaz, Marketing Manager for Kingspan Insulation North America. "There is an increased focus on smart homes as well as net zero building practices, and The New American Remodel and KB Home ProjeKt houses truly showcase what the future of remodeling and new-build construction practices could look like."

The Kingspan Kooltherm® line offers an extensive range of products for wall, floor, soffit, rainscreen, concrete sandwich wall system (precast and tilt-up) applications. It has a fiber-free rigid thermoset phenolic insulation core, and exhibits outstanding fire performance. With an R-value of 16 on two inches, Kooltherm® has a higher R-value than any commonly used insulation. It is manufactured with a blowing agent that has zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and low Global Warming Potential (GWP). The product is light weight, easy to install, and is unaffected by air infiltration and is resistant to the passage of water vapor. It is ideal for new construction as well as retrofit.

The New American Remodel™ also used GreenGuard® RainDrop® 3D Building Wrap, Butyl Flashing and Seam Tape for a complete moisture management wall system. GreenGuard® RainDrop® 3D Building Wrap provides both an air & moisture barrier with an integrated drainage plane, and can be used with siding, stone or stucco.


New American Home Foam Sheathing Reduces Thermal Bridging

Wed, 2019-02-20 16:34
Building Science

When it comes to building a home that meets the highest standards, well-appointed means energy efficient in addition to the latest style trends and that’s where plastics continue to play an invisible but important role.

Look no further than the 2019 model of the New American Home — this year distinguished by minimal decoration, abundant glass and a flat-sloping roof line — to put a spotlight on innovative products and green building techniques using polymers and other materials.

Built inside a gated community in Henderson, Nev., the 7,900-square foot house is this year’s showcase for the National Association of Home Builders, which is putting on the International Builders’ Show (IBS) that runs from Feb. 19-21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Tour buses are expected to take at least 15,000 IBS attendees high into the McCollough Range to the contemporary house, which boasts some eye-popping features starting with a four-car, glass-enclosed garage that runs alongside the front walkway. This air-conditioned man cave has large sliding glass doors for car connoisseurs to display vehicles and it doubles as an entertainment room with a pool table and bar.

At the back of the mountainside property, where the surrounding foothills and the Las Vegas strip provide the stunning view, this sprawling single-story dwelling has 16 feet of fireplace. Actually, two fireplaces divided by a sliding door, the combination puts eight feet of flame in the great room and eight feet outdoors.

Another sliding door — this one telescopic — separates the indoor and outdoor kitchen cabinets, also blurring the line of interior and exterior living space.

“When I stepped foot on this property, the first thing I thought was the view is fantastic. I have to get as many rooms as possible facing it and open up as many areas as we can to the outside,” Dan Colletti, president of Sun West Custom Homes, told reporters given a sneak peek on Monday.

Built on a lot that is roughly 110 feet wide, Colletti said he had a building envelope of about 90 feet.

“We have 80 feet facing the strip view,” he added. “We pretty much maximized every space we could to get the view for all the rooms. That’s how designs start. It was the catalyst.”

So, how do you build a house with that much glass and make it energy efficient?

It wasn’t an easy feat. To offset all the fenestration products of Western Windows System, the builders increased the R-value (capacity to resist heat flow) of the desert dwelling with Owens Corning insulation for roofs, ceilings, walls and even the slab. One of the products, Foamular, an extruded polystyrene that prevents thermal bridging from wall studs, can be used for basement walls, foundation walls and slabs, above-grade walls, and under vinyl siding.

Putting foam insulation around the slab perimeter prevents radiant heat penetration and enhances moisture control, according to Neil Freidberg, Owens Corning’s building science leader.

“To build a high-performance home with such a large footprint, you have to first understand each and every component — from windows to air sealing to the roof and [home’s] orientation. In doing so, we can identify and use the optimal materials in the right locations,” Freidberg said in a news release.

The insulation contributed to a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index score of 45, according to Drew Smith, chief operating officers of Two Trails Inc., which evaluated the home’s performance.

“That’s remarkable for this size home,” Smith said. “It’s almost breaking records with this amount of square footage and the glass-to-wall ratio. This home tested well and we’re really pleased. We’re looking at annual energy savings of about $3000 for the future owner.”

With the HERS rating, lower is better. Smith said a score of 45 means The New American Home is about 55 percent more efficient than a standard code built home.

“Size doesn’t matter,” he added. “You can still be extremely energy efficient and sustainable no matter how big the house is.”

NAHB says homes built to the greener end of the construction continuum provide greater comfort, lower utility bills, reduced maintenance and increased value.

Every dollar invested in energy efficiency yields $1.24 to $4 in benefits, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. And, an analysis in North Carolina shows when it comes time to move on, high-performance homes have a 9.5 percent higher sale price.

By the way, the asking price for The New American Home is $6.49 million. Situated on a half-acre lot with five bedrooms and six bathrooms, the house also features a spa room, disappearing-edge pool, and innovative structural components, such as a shower with a glass barn door, a wet bar suspended by cables, and a master bed suspended by steel near a cozy corner fireplace.

“This home is the Super Bowl of home building. It’s the best of the best of innovation, energy efficiency and technology,” Ted Mahoney, president of Windjammer Construction in Boston and chairman of the New American Home program for the eight last years, told reporters. “…It’s ahead of the curve with all the latest bells and whistles.”

Other plastic products used in the construction include Dupont Tyvek housewrap and Sharkbite croslinked polyethylene pipe.

Could New Robot Revolutionize Spray Foam Application?

Wed, 2019-02-20 16:29
Building Science

SprayWorks Equipment Group is proud to announce its new invention, the Coaterbot. Created by long-time Polyurethanes equipment inventor and founder of a 4th generation company – James Davidson created the Coaterbot to cover a broader spectrum of material applications

The Coaterbot’s features include;

  • Application tolerances: +/- 2 mils coatings to +/- 1/16” SPF
  • Increased yields: Sustained theoretical loss of yield factors under 15% with SPF and 5% with coatings
  • Easily Customized: Utility model platform easily adapts for in plant and in situ applications
  • Upgrade option for SprayBot Ultra

Similar to its sister products, the Spraybot (designed in 2004) and the Spraybot Ultra (2011), the Coaterbot delivers a 78” wide pass with a variable height of 12-36” – while operating with a two-person crew. The Coaterbot was designed with thin and thick film coating applications in mind. The Coaterbot has the ability to apply a much broader range of materials including; foam, coatings, Polyurea, Roof CTG, Floor & Parking CTG, Primary & Secondary Containment – just to name a few. 

“I designed the Coaterbot with a broader range of material applications in mind,” says Jim Davidson, Owner, SprayWorks Equipment Group “catering primarily to airless and conventional multi-component applications, it creates labor and material savings with unmatched precision.” 


Huber Adds 6 New Flashing Tapes to Zip System

Wed, 2019-02-20 16:27
Building Science

Huber Engineered Woods, manufacturer of ZIP System® building enclosure products, announced the expansion of its line of ZIP System® sealing solutions and enhanced flashing tape performance. The ZIP System brand is known for transforming structural exteriors as the creators of integrated sheathing that eliminates the need for housewrap and felt in wall and roof assemblies. The engineered-wood systems streamline installation with built-in air and water-resistive barriers and even exterior continuous insulation in its variety of integrated sheathing lines. As a reflection of its commitment to innovation for better building products and practices, Huber Engineered Woods announced the immediate availability of six new ZIP System flashing and stretch tapes.

ZIP System Sealing Solutions Product Line

ZIP System sealing solutions now include five ZIP System™ stretch tape options and five ZIP System flashing (straight) tapes. While developing tape options for new widths and lengths, the company reports it enhanced tape formula to provide even stronger performance in a broader range of temperatures.

"While builders and framers may not notice much of a visual difference to our flashing tapes, with this formula enhancement we now warrant application of ZIP System tapes down to 0-degree Fahrenheit," said ZIP System product director, Allen Sealock.

ZIP System sealing solutions also include ZIP System™ liquid flash – a fluid-applied flashing alternative to ZIP System flashing and stretch tape.

All ZIP System tapes:

  • Are backed by 180-Day Exposure Guarantee and a 30-Year Limited Warranty1
  • Feature a split-liner for easy application, on tapes 6 inches or wider  
  • Can be applied between 0 degrees and 120 degrees Fahrenheit2

"True to Huber Engineered Woods' innovation philosophy, these new products are a direct result of customer requests," said David Wescott, product director of accessories at Huber. "They have also been put through the rigorous R&D process our customers expect from our products."


TYPAR Drainable Wrap Helps Bulk Water Management

Wed, 2019-02-20 16:19
Building Science

The latest addition to the TYPAR Weather Protection System, TYPAR Drainable Wrap features a layer of multi-directional polypropylene fibers that is designed to divert bulk water from exterior wall cavities, creating an efficient drainage gap that is said to shed more bulk water than traditional house wraps. TYPAR Drainable Wrap comes with a lifetime limited warranty and meets code requirements for drainage efficiency. The product is designed to provide enhanced capabilities ideal for wet and coastal climates.



DowDuPont: Tyvek & STYROFOAM XPS Work 'Hand-in-Hand'

Wed, 2019-02-20 16:12
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

DuPont Performance Building Solutions (PBS) is promoting a combined, more robust portfolio for the marketplace across Dow and DuPont. The integration of Dow and DuPont now offers industry-leading brands such as DuPont™ Tyvek® Building Envelope and STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) as part of one offering. These brands will house a better customer and user experience by providing easy-to-install systems that work together to enhance the building envelope and meet the market’s increased performance expectations.

DuPont PBS knows how materials work together – Tyvek® and STYROFOAM™ work hand-in-hand to improve water management, energy efficiency and thermal performance, resulting in a durable and energy-efficient building envelope. Customers can now use both Tyvek® and STYROFOAM™ solutions to help manage bulk water, tighten the building enclosure, reduce the wall condensation potential, and enable appropriate drying within the wall cavity. Insulation, permeable weather resistive barriers, flashing, tapes and spray foams also can be used in different combinations to improve energy efficiency, thermal comfort and durability of the building envelope.

“The powerful heritage of DuPont and Dow give us a unique responsibility to the communities in which we work to build structures that foster a better, more resilient tomorrow,” said Alan Hubbell, Residential Market Manager, Performance Building Solutions, DuPont Safety & Construction. “As a newly combined company, DuPont Performance Building Solutions will lead the industry through performance, technology and innovation that go beyond simple product solutions to tackle issues like productivity, safety, durability and efficiency.”

Through leading products and proven tools and processes, DuPont PBS ensures the comfort and resilience of structures. The unrivaled portfolio from the foremost leaders in the building industry provides customers the freedom, flexibility and confidence to make every project seamless.

PBS solutions include:

DOE Awards 3 Energy Efficiency Funding Grants

Wed, 2019-02-13 22:28
Building Science

The Building Technologies Office announced it is investing up to $19.5 million in 19 projects that will drive innovation in early-stage research and development for advanced building technologies and systems that will serve as a foundation for future technological developments and reductions in building energy consumption. These technologies will improve the efficiency of our nation’s buildings and will help American consumers and businesses save energy and money on their utility bills.

“Technological innovations enable energy-efficiency advances in the buildings sector, providing a tremendous opportunity to reduce energy waste and costs – boosting the competitiveness of U.S. companies and easing energy bills for American families,” said David Nemtzow, director of the Building Technologies Office. “As buildings account for 40% of the energy consumption in the United States, these efficiency innovations allow us to further improve upon past progress.”

Below are the three award winners focused on using advanced building materials:

The University at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY): “Scalable and Cost-Effective Roll-to-Roll Additive Manufacturing of Highly Durable and Thermal Insulating Silica-Carbon Aerogel.” The research team will demonstrate a scalable roll-to-roll manufacturing process for producing an advanced aerogel insulation material.

Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA): “Inexpensive and durable aerogel-based VIP Cores.” The research team will investigate a manufacturing process that uses ambient rather than supercritical drying of aerogels to fabricate aerogel for vacuum insulated panels at much lower required vacuum levels.

The University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL): “Cost-Effective Thermally Activated Building Systems to Support a Power Grid System With High Penetrations of As-Available Renewable Energy Resources.” The research team will develop a novel thermally activated building envelope system that integrates non-combustible phase change materials and hydronic activation into building envelope with a goal to reduce the energy cost for building operation as well as to support renewable energy sources (RES) for power grid reliability, quality, resilience, and dispatchability.


NY, VA & WA Seek Changes to the Building Envelope

Wed, 2019-02-13 22:18
Building Codes

State legislatures in New York, Virginia and Washington have recently introduced legislation that would could have an impact on the building envelope.  Summaries are below:

New York Looks to Favorably Update Building Codes

NY A 4460 would update the state fire prevention and building code and the state energy conservation construction code within 12 months of the publication of any updated or revised edition of the international and national codes.

NY A 4606 would authorize local governments to adopt local building code standards which are more stringent than those in the State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.

Virginia Proposed Legislation References ASHRAE's Advanced Energy Design Guide

The Commonwealth of Virginia is considering legislation that will update the Virginia Small Business Financing Act. The legislation (House Bill 2192, companion Senate Bill 1331), includes a new section, Section 22.1-141.1, standards for buildings and facilities, that would require that new public school buildings and facilities and improvements to existing public school buildings and existing facilities be Zero Energy buildings based on ASHRAE's Achieving Zero Energy – Advanced Design Guide for K–12 School Buildings. This legislation was engrossed by the House on February 4 and will go to the Senate. View the proposed language here.

Washington State Introduces Legislation to Update State's Energy Efficiency Policy

Legislation has been introduced in the State of Washington which would update its current energy efficiency policy. Senate Bill 5293 (companion House Bill 1257) adds new sections to the state's energy performance standards. Specifically, ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 100-2018 is adopted by reference as a model for standard development. Should this bill pass, the state Department of Commerce shall seek to maximize reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector. The standard must include energy use intensity targets by building type and methods of conditional compliance that include an energy management plan, operations and maintenance program, energy efficiency audits, and investment in energy efficiency measures designed to meet the targets.

Additionally, Standard 100-2018 is paired with EPA's Energy Star® for building occupancy classifications. The Department may consider building occupancy classifications from these two when developing energy use intensity targets. See the bills: SB 5293 and HB 1257.


2 Dow Building Envelope Products Receive Innovation Award

Wed, 2019-02-13 22:12
Building Science

Two innovative technologies from Dow, the world’s leading materials science company, as well as the company’s Coating Materials research division have won BIG Innovation Awards presented by the Business Intelligence Group. The annual awards program recognizes the organizations, products and people that bring new ideas to life.

“Creating materials and solutions that exceed customer needs, transform our world and deliver shareholder value is why we innovate,” said A.N. Sreeram, senior vice president, Research and Development, and chief technology officer for Dow. “We are grateful for this recognition from Business Intelligence Group of our talented Dow teams and breakthrough innovations.”

Nominations are judged by a select group of business leaders and executives who volunteer their time and expertise to score submissions.

“This year’s winners show just how deep a role innovation plays in nearly every aspect of business,” said Maria Jimenez, chief operating officer of the Business Intelligence Group. “We are thrilled to be honoring Dow as they are leading by example and making real progress on improving the daily lives of so many.”

Learn more about the Dow 2019 BIG Innovation Award winners:

Dow Coating Materials Research Division

Today’s modern coatings demand many, often conflicting qualities: energy efficiency, safety, durability, aesthetics and much more. These simultaneous requirements demand unique technologies and innovations. The research team from Dow Coating Materials is being recognized for its world-class expertise to bring inspired ideas to coating needs of all kinds, including market-defining technologies. Working hand-in-hand with customers and industry and academic partners alike, these scientists push the boundaries of chemistry to help understand and solve the world’s most critical challenges in coatings.

DOW SILASTIC™ 3335 Liquid Silicone Rubber

SILASTIC™ 3335 Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) is a groundbreaking silicone material formulated specifically to combine the performance benefits of silicone rubber with the design and processing advantages of liquid additive manufacturing 3D printing.

DOW SYL-OFF™ 7792 and SYL-OFF™ 7795 Fluorosilicone Release Coatings

To solve the pain point of ultra-low release force applications, Dow developed SYL-OFF™ 7792 FLUOROSILICONE RELEASE COATING and SYL-OFF™ 7795 FLUOROSILICONE RELEASE COATING for Silicone Pressure Sensitive Adhesive applications. The solution provides stable and lower release force and greater ease to peel off.

For more information about Dow’s innovation engine, visit Areas of Expertise and Awards on


Could AI Help Enforce Code, Avoid Cladding Fire Spread?

Wed, 2019-02-13 22:05
Building Science

fire at the Neo 200 apartment building in Spencer Street, Melbourne, on Monday highlighted the risk to human safety from flammable cladding and other non-conforming building products. Building quality and safety are compromised when there is no transparency about the products used.

Our experimental research project suggests a solution that uses sensor technology and artificial intelligence. Finding such a solution to ensure unsafe and substandard products are detected and prevented from being used in buildings is critical, given the scale of the problem in Australia.

In 2014, a similar cladding fire spread across multiple levels of the Lacrosse Tower in Melbourne’s Docklands. This led to an initial audit by the Victorian Building Authority.

In 2017, after 72 people died in the Grenfell cladding fire in London, the Victorian Cladding Taskforce conducted another audit. It found at least 1,400 buildings contained cladding that was non-conforming to Australian standards and/or non-compliant with government safety regulations. Its interim report concluded:

The Victorian Cladding Taskforce has found systems failures have led to major safety risks and widespread non-compliant use of combustible cladding in the building industry across the state.

How could this happen?

The taskforce noted 12 reasons for non-compliant use of cladding. From a systems perspective, these can be categorised as:

  1. incentive to substitute products driven by cost
  2. no reliable means of independently verifying product certification
  3. product labelling cannot be verified to detect fraudulent or misleading information
  4. products cannot reliably be verified as being the same as those approved (and used)
  5. on-site inspections are unreliable or do not take place.

Essentially, the taskforce identified a problem with the system of verifying products’ conformance to standards and compliance with government regulation.

Substandard products can be found across a range of materials used in the building sector. These include steel, copper, electrical products, glass, aluminium and engineered wood. For example, the Senate inquiry into non-conforming products found:

The ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] advised that electrical retailers and wholesalers have recalled Infinity and Olsent-branded electrical cables, warning that ‘physical contact with the recalled cables could dislodge the insulation and lead to electric shock or fires’.

The taskforce estimated over 22,000 homes were affected. It estimated the cost of the recall and replacement at A$80 million.

So how can technology help?

Similar problems have existed in other industries. In the wine export industry, sensor technology has been used to detect fraudulent products in our biggest market, China. This involves scanning QR codes on bottle labels to identify the manufacturer, the batch and other product details that authenticate wine products.

Scanning technology, involving complex data-matching across different data platforms, is used daily – when we use credit cards, for example. The building industry has embraced some excellent systems to collect data of importance such as building information modelling (BIM). However, BIM does not verify authenticity of products.

In the the case of flammable cladding, data verification to solve the use of non-conforming products is housed across a number of authorities, manufacturers and industry associations. Collaboration is needed to design a system to solve the problem. The data should be collected and stored in a manner that enables secure access by a digital verification system.

What features does the system need to have?

Our research focus has been on designing a system based on criteria informed by industry innovators and stakeholders. The system must be able to:

  1. collect and match product data in real time
  2. verify non-conforming and non-compliant products in real time
  3. maintain integrity of labelling
  4. store data securely so all stakeholders can verify the status of the building, including architects, builders, site managers, inspectors, owners, investors, insurers and financiers
  5. trace data (and composition) throughout the product life-cycle, to predict maintenance, recovery and repurposing.

The system we suggest uses two elements, sensor technology and artificial intelligence, to do all this.

Technology to solve the problem of tracking and validating building product safety is being developed.



How does the system work?

A mobile app that can scan QR codes or “building material passports” is being developed in Europe. The label will hold relevant compliance data of the assembled product and its component parts. This includes building code compliance, and relevant assessments and certifications.

The product’s QR code can be scanned at any time along the supply chain and throughout the life of the building. This then enables its status to be verified via data matching.

Linking to a platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) solves the problem of ensuring compliance with government regulation. CSIRO Data 61 has developed an AI software tool that enables regulation to be coded using AI algorithms to accurately determine compliance. We are working with Data 61 to test Australian regulation and ensure transparency for all.

The solution is designed to plug into existing technology solutions, such as BIM and Matrack, to trace the movement of products along the supply chain and throughout the building’s life-cycle.


Illinois to Update State Energy Code to 2018 IECC

Wed, 2019-02-13 21:59
Building Codes

The Illinois Register, published on December 7, 2018, gives notice of amendment to existing rules which will update the state's energy code from 2015 IECC to 2018 IECC. These changes are authorized by the Capital Development Board Act and the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Act, which requires the adoption of the latest published edition of the ICC's International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) as the energy code for Illinois.

Please note that the rules were also altered to revise the requirements for State funded facilities to comply with the IECC versus ASHRAE standards, remove the variance process for State funded facilities as this is covered in the IECC, add exemptions for State buildings that are allowed for private commercial buildings and to rearrange or reword a few sections to provide consistency.

Click here to view the rule in full. The rule runs from Register page 21491 to 21528.

Any interested parties may submit comments, data, views or arguments concerning this proposed rulemaking in writing for a period of 45 days following publication of this Notice.

Investors Expect Huntsman’s Polyurethanes to Rise 7.3%

Wed, 2019-02-13 21:55
Building ScienceBusiness

Huntsman Corporation swung to a net loss of $8 million or 5 cents per share in the third quarter from a net income of $179 million or 60 cents recorded a year ago. Adjusted earnings were 84 cents per share in the quarter, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Revenues rose around 13% year over year to $2,444 million on higher sales across all segments. It beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2,239 million.

Huntsman has outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters, delivering a positive average earnings surprise of roughly 14%.

The company’s shares have lost around 29.1% over a year, underperforming the industry's decline of 16.6%.

Factors to Watch For

Huntsman, in its third-quarter call, stated that it continues to strengthen its balance sheet and remains committed to a balanced approach to capital allocation by growing its downstream businesses portfolio while creating shareholder value.

Revenues for Huntsman for the fourth quarter is projected to fall roughly 3.6% year over year as the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter is currently pegged at $2,123 million.

Revenues from Huntsman’s Polyurethanes segment is anticipated to witness a 7.3% rise year over year as the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter is pegged at $1,316 million.

Huntsman remains committed to grow its downstream specialty and formulation businesses. The company is seeing healthy demand for MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate). Substitution of MDI for less effective materials remains a key driving factor.

Moreover, the acquisition of Demilec, a leading manufacturer and distributor of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation systems in North America, is expected to contribute to volume growth in Polyurethanes in the December quarter.

However, the company expects its Polyurethanes business to be affected by seasonality in the fourth quarter as it is seeing customer destocking through the supply chain amid global trade tensions and a weaker growth picture in China. It expects this to offset the incremental benefits of its expansion actions in China. The company also does not expect any benefits of margin spike in its MDI Urethanes business in the fourth quarter. It envisions margins in its downstream Urethanes businesses to remain stable in the quarter.

Revenues for the company’s Performance Products unit are expected to remain flat year over year as the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter is $514 million.

While seasonality is also expected to affect the Performance Products segment, Huntsman expects improved results in amines and maleic anhydride and steady performance in surfactants to be offset by lower upstream margin in the fourth quarter.

Revenues for Huntsman’s Advanced Materials segment are projected to decline 3.9% from the year-ago quarter as the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter stands at $248 million.

Within this segment, Huntsman is seeing higher volumes in the specialty business. However, the company continues to face headwind from higher raw material costs. The company is also seeing weaker orders from certain customers, mostly in automotive markets in China. It expects this softness to contribute to the seasonality in this segment in the fourth quarter.


Harvard Studying How to Improve Upon Net-Zero

Wed, 2019-02-13 21:47
Building Science

The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) has completed an ambitious effort to retrofit a 1924 home in Cambridge, Mass., into a living laboratory that will serve as the organization's headquarters. Dubbed HouseZero, the energy-positive prototype for ultra-efficient architecture aims to demonstrate how existing structures can be modified to consume less energy.

Designed by renowned Norewegian firm Snøhetta as lead architect in collaboration with engineer Skanska Teknikk Norway, HouseZero's concepts are driven by radical performance goals, including nearly zero energy for heating and cooling, zero electric lighting during daytime, operating with 100% natural ventilation, and producing zero carbon emissions. Over its lifetime, the structure is intended to produce more energy than was used to renovate and operate it.

CGBC will also leverage HouseZero as a research tool, drawing data from hundreds of sensors embedded within each component of the home that monitor its performance. According to the university, this sensory data will also provide Harvard’s researchers with an unprecedented understanding of complex building behavior. In turn, the data will fuel research involving computational simulation, helping the CGBC develop new systems and data-driven learning algorithms that promote energy-efficiency, health, and sustainability.

“HouseZero’s flexible, data-driven infrastructure will allow us to further research that demystifies building behavior, and design the next generation of ultra-efficient structures,” says Ali Malkawi, founding director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities and the creator and leader of the HouseZero project. “By creating both a prototype and an infrastructure for long-term research, we hope to raise interest in ultra-efficient retrofits and inspire substantial shifts in the design and operation of buildings.”

HouseZero's big-picture, prototype goal is to address one of the biggest energy problems in the world today—inefficient existing buildings. Harvard research has found that the U.S. building stock is responsible for around 40% of energy consumption, with housing claiming nearly a quarter of that use. Annually, property owners spend upwards of $230 billion to heat, cool, and power some 113.6 million homes. Addressing the inefficiencies locked into this problematic building stock offers opportunity for curbing its impact on climate change, and HouseZero's strategies could potentially create the blueprint for reducing the average American household's footprint.

The building is designed to continuously adjust itself to reach thermal comfort for its occupants. It combines innovative technologies such as software and sensor arrays with established architectural solutions, such as solar vents, concrete slabs that store thermal energy, and natural ventilation to automatically open and close windows to maintain a quality internal environment throughout the year. Rather than tightly sealing the building, the envelope and the materials that make up HouseZero were designed to interact with the seasons and the exterior environment in a more natural way.