XPSA Supports Montreal Protocol Amendment Accelerating HFC Phase-Out

The Extruded Polystyrene Foam Association (XPSA) , whose members include the major extruded polystyrene foam (XPS) insulation manufacturers in North America, has announced its support for the Montreal Protocol amendment hastening the global phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to protect the stratospheric ozone and mitigate the effects of climate change.
 
XPSA has expressed support for both the Montreal Protocol and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program, under which XPS manufacturers are transitioning out of using HFC-134a. XPS manufacturers have met or exceeded the timelines set forth and will continue to do so based on science and environmental stewardship. XPSA’s members are committed to eliminating HFCs from their products by the EPA SNAP deadline of January 1, 2021.
 
“The phase-out of HFCs will be a milestone within the XPS industry’s stewardship and sustainability objectives and a progression of our ongoing search for technology improvements to better serve our customers and protect our environment,” said John Ferraro, executive director of XPSA.
 
Replacing HFC-134a requires a reconsideration of the entire chemical makeup of XPS insulation products. The EPA understands that XPS manufacturers need time to identify alternatives to HFC-134a; assess and address risks of alternative components; analyze capabilities and make modifications to equipment, facilities, manufacturing processes, and worker safety and training programs; work with suppliers on equipment and component needs; build and engage in pilot- and plant-scale trials; obtain permits, approvals, and financing; and address commercialization issues such as ensuring production capacity to meet global market demand.
 
XPS’s properties heighten a structure’s energy efficiency, which both the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and EPA acknowledge to be one of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategies. In fact, ASHREA and XPS industry estimates indicate that homes using XPS insulation sheathing save enough energy in the first year to heat over 500,000 homes in the U.S. XPS reduces GHG emissions by lowering the energy consumption of a structure, which diminishes the amount of energy spent in the distribution of energy, the delivery of which requires 3.34 units of energy to send 1 unit to a building for user consumption. Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) data shows that the reduced energy consumption due to XPS foam pays back the embedded CO2 multiple times over the life of a building.

NCFI Polyurethanes’ Spray Foam Products Use Honeywell’s Low Global-Warming Material

Honeywell has announced that NCFI Polyurethanes has transitioned to Honeywell’s low-global-warming material for roofing applications, with wall insulation systems to follow.

NCFI is offering closed-cell polyurethane spray foam formulated with Honeywell’s Solstice Liquid Blowing Agent (LBA) in roofing products. This offering marks another milestone as NCFI transitions its engineered building products line from hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) blowing agents with high global-warming-potential (GWP) to low-GWP products. This includes converting much of its polyurethane product line to Solstice LBA encompassing integral skin and other applications in advance of environmental regulations calling for a phaseout of HFCs.

Solstice LBA, which is based on low GWP hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) technology, is an ingredient in closed-cell foam, allowing it to expand and enabling insulating performance. Solstice LBA has a low GWP of 1, which is 99.9 percent lower than HFCs and equal to carbon dioxide.

“A part of our low-GWP commitment is to introduce HFC-free spray foam products that meet our performance standards,” states Chip Holton, president, NCFI Polyurethanes. “Not only is our internal plan for conversions to a SmartSPF line ahead of the deadlines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we also believe these spray foam products give us a competitive advantage.”

The adoption of Solstice LBA is part of how NCFI is fulfilling its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that was first publicized during a 20-company roundtable discussion held by President Obama at the White House last October. At that event, NCFI was honored for plans to transition from HFCs to low-GWP products. Honeywell was also recognized at the event during which it presented projections on the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the adoption of the Solstice product suite. Worldwide adoption of Solstice products has resulted in the reduction of more than 31 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, equal to eliminating emissions from more than 6 million cars. 

“NCFI continues to make progress with the adoption of Solstice LBA,” says Laura Reinhard, global business manager for spray foam, Honeywell. “Not only is NCFI demonstrating environmental leadership by offering spray foam products with reduced climate impact, it is also seeing performance improvements.”

Compared to NCFI’s HFC-based insulation systems, the new systems featuring Solstice LBA deliver improvements in sprayability, consistency, and surface finish. The foam is strong and allows for walking on the roof to maintain equipment with less risk of damaging the foam.

Solstice LBA is nonflammable (ASTM E-681) and is not a volatile organic compound under applicable EPA air quality regulations. Solstice LBA is listed as an acceptable substitute for HFC blowing agents under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program. Similarly, in Europe, Solstice LBA is regarded as non-global-warming and is not considered an F-Gas under the F-Gas regulations. It is registered under the European Union’s REACH program. Honeywell’s Solstice LBA manufacturing plant in Louisiana started up in May 2014.

Lapolla Industries Inc. Supports Amendment to 1989 Montreal Protocol

Lapolla Industries Inc. has announced the company’s support of an amendment to the 1989 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Joining forces with more than 500 national and international companies and organizations, as well as hundreds of sub-national governments, the company is calling for world leaders to pass the Montreal Protocol hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phasedown amendment, which will be voted on in October during a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, amongst signatories to the original Montreal Protocol.
 
“Getting this amendment passed lies in its ability to help deliver on the goals set forth by the December 2015 Paris Agreement,” said Doug Kramer, president and CEO of Lapolla Industries. “In essence, the amendment will allow us to further reduce the use of HFCs and, in doing so, avoid up to 0.5C of global climate warming by the end of the century. The importance of this to the health of the global environment, economy and our nation cannot be overstated.”
 
If world leaders adopt the amendment, it will enact a first reduction step in HFC use for Article 2 countries and a freeze date for Article 5 countries. The amendment represents global action toward reducing the use and emissions of global-warming potential HFCs as well as a transition over time to more sustainable alternatives that enhance energy efficiency.
 
Lapolla Industries is a Houston-based manufacturer and global supplier of building products including spray polyurethane foam for insulation and roofing applications, reflective roof coatings and equipment. In 2014, Lapolla Industries eliminated ozone depletion potential (ODP) and reduced global warming potential (GWP) in its product line. The company accomplished these initiatives through re-engineering of its product chemistry. 
 
Development of Lapolla’s product line innovation commenced approximately four years ago. CEO Doug Kramer was subsequently invited to participate in the President’s Climate Action Plan roundtable at the White House alongside the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and some of the nation’s recognized business leaders.
 
“Lapolla’s foremost commitment across all of its products is to maximize energy conservation in the building environment,” added Kramer. “We pushed to deliver a spray foam line that protected the ozone and the climate as well. This effort has fared well for both the environment and for our business.”
 
The innovation in Lapolla Industries’ fourth generation spray polyurethane foam product line produces additional product yield, resulting in lower installation cost and increased ROI and savings to the consumer. 
 
Lapolla’s fourth generation spray polyurethane foam products include: FOAM-LOKä 2000-4G Spray Foam Insulation, FOAM-LOKä, and FOAM-LOKä 2800-4G Spray Foam for Roofing and all other closed cell spray foam systems. While applications for each vary, all provide performance in energy efficiency by reducing the energy consumption of a home or commercial building up to 45 percent.
 
“Not only are we protecting the ozone and climate, but our next generation spray foam line also reduces fossil fuel use for heating and cooling,” said Kramer.
 

UN Climate Conference Agreement Will Impact Energy Efficiency of Buildings

The agreement from the U.N. Climate Conference will dramatically impact the energy efficiency of buildings in the U.S. becoming standard operating procedure for new construction and making deep retrofits worth the time and effort.

According to the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, there are approximately 6 million commercial buildings in the U.S., comprising 87.4 billion square feet. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average commercial building wastes 30 percent of its energy consumption at a cost of more than a trillion dollars of wasted energy.

PIMA President Jared Blum, serving also as vice chair of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, led a delegation of renewable and energy-efficiency business leaders to the COP21 meeting in Paris. Blum and the other leaders participated in briefing sessions given by the U.S. negotiating team, as well as in workshops as technology and policy experts.

“COP21 has indeed resulted in an unprecedented operating commitment to reduce CO2 emissions for the 196 countries attending,” says Blum. “Coupled with the recently passed Clean Power Plan here in the U.S., we expect to see building designers and scientists reevaluating how to get existing buildings to perform.”

Blum participated in the COP 21 in a number of different ways:

  • Provided the opening statement, the Intervention, at the Plenary Technical Working Group for Governmental Delegates.
  • Held meetings with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and a U.S. Senate delegation offering business input to the conference leaders.
  • Participated in a panel discussion with representatives of the wind industry and other efficiency advocates.

“Of real difference this year is the shift in the attitude of the business community towards this effort. The prices of solar- and wind-energy technologies have fallen dramatically, energy storage R&D is making significant progress, and energy-efficiency practices and policies have definitively demonstrated that economic growth can be separated from energy use,” adds Blum. “I believe that realization was one of the reasons this conference was a success.”

Green Roof Provides Learning Opportunities at the University of Iowa’s Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building

Established just 59 days after Iowa became a state in 1847, the University of Iowa, Iowa City, boasts a number of firsts. In 1855, it became the first U.S. public university to admit men and women; at that time, its enrollment consisted of 124 students—41 of which were women. In 1873, it was the first school to grant a law degree to a woman. In 1895, it became the first university to place an African American on a varsity sports team.

As such, the university’s new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building was designed and built with sustainability in mind. PHOTO: Roof Top Sedums LLC

The university’s new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building was designed and built with sustainability in mind. PHOTO: Roof Top Sedums LLC


In more recent years, the university has strived to lead via its environmental efforts. As a Green Power Partner of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the university pledges to reduce the environmental impact of electricity generation through the use of renewables. In 2010, it established its first sustainability plan—2020 Vision UIowa Sustainability Targets, which contains the following goals:

  • Become a Net-negative Energy Consumer
  • Green Our Energy Portfolio
  • Decrease Our Production of Waste
  • Reduce the Carbon Impact of Transportation
  • Increase Student Opportunities to Learn and Practice Principles of Sustainability
  • Support and Grow Interdisciplinary Research in Sustainability-focused and Related Areas
  • Develop Partnerships and Advance Collaborative Initiatives, both Academic and Operational

Among the University of Iowa’s strategies to achieve its sustainability goals is ensuring all new construction and major renovations on campus achieve a minimum LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington.

The 200,000-square-foot, 6-story building, which officially opened in October 2014, boasts many environmentally friendly attributes.

The 200,000-square-foot, 6-story building, which officially opened in October 2014, boasts many environmentally friendly attributes. PHOTO: Scott Nagel


As such, the university’s new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building was designed and built with sustainability in mind. The 200,000-square-foot, 6-story building, which officially opened in October 2014, boasts many environmentally friendly attributes, including glow-emitting sealants, paints, carpet and other materials; water-efficient landscaping; and recycled content and regional materials. It also achieves an-other university first: three green roofs, one of which provides students the opportunity to grow medicinal plants.

Opting for Trays

Des Moines, Iowa-based landscape architecture firm Confluence has been completing projects at the University of Iowa for many years through its Iowa offices—Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Confluence was hired by the project’s architect of record, Rohrbach Associates PC Architects, Iowa City, to complete landscaping around and on top of the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building in the form of three green roofs that total approximately 6,440 square feet. Despite the building’s consider-able roof area, the design team opted to install the green roofs on lower roof areas upon which building occupants would be looking. The rest of the roof cover is a reflective membrane system.

Confluence provided the layout for a modular green roof on the three distinctive roof areas. Patrick Alvord, PLA, RA, LEED AP, a principal in Confluence’s Cedar Rapids office, notes the chosen tray system was off-the-rack, which is what made it appealing to him and his colleagues. “We spent a lot of time talking to the manufacturer and they were just great to work with,” Alvord says. “We had a number of case studies of work they had done in the Chicagoland area that had proven very successful, so we had a very high level of comfort right out of the gate.”

Alvord opted to use the 6-inch-deep tray model because it would provide some flexibility in the plant materials that could be specified. “We were able to specify different plant materials in the plan of the roof to coordinate with shade, densities and location,” he says. “In areas where the roof would be highly visible from floors above, we did some patterning with the plants. In areas where we had the opportunity to go deep, we planted deeper-rooting plants that will grow taller and provide a denser plant palette.”

The plants are a mix of native and adaptive Iowa plants, as well as recommendations from the green-roof supplier. “It’s a mix of perennials, grasses and forbs, ranging from sedums to liatris to a number of different things,” Alvord notes.

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