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.
 

RCMA and Members of Congress Address Issues of the Roof Coatings Industry

Members of the Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA) met with its members of Congress on Capitol Hill as part of the Association’s Summer Meeting and Legislative Day.

More than 30 RCMA members participated in the Legislative Day, which entailed paying visits to members of Congress and key congressional staffers from their states and districts. RCMA scheduled meetings with more than 80 congressional offices, offering opportunities for manufacturers and suppliers to the industry to communicate to lawmakers the issues of importance to the roof coatings industry.

“The meetings on Capitol Hill gave RCMA members the chance to highlight the issues that are important to our industry,” says John Ferraro, RCMA’s executive director. “It was clear many of the senators, representatives and legislative staffers we met with were receptive to these industry issues, and therefore RCMA will be continuing the dialogue with these congressional offices.”

In particular, RMCA members discussed three main issues of interest to the roof coatings industry: opposing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from further lowering the National Ozone Standard, supporting the Clean Air, Strong Economies (CASE) Act, and advocating for a federal tax credit for reflective roof coatings.

The RCMA opposes the EPA’s proposal to lower the National Ozone Standard. Reductions to the standard have resulted in implementation of hundreds of regulations that created a tremendous regulatory burden. Consequently, the rule forced industries to spend billions of dollars to reformulate their products to achieve new volatile organic compound (VOC) content limits. Over the last few decades, 90 percent of VOC content has been eliminated from roof coatings, and further reduction of VOCs can have a wide variety of unintended consequences.

The RCMA supports the CASE Act (Senate Bill 751 and House Bill 1388). The bill would prohibit the U.S. EPA from lowering the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) until at least 85 percent of counties that are in nonattainment areas have attained the standard.

To incentivize building owners to make the investment to save energy and reduce roofing waste, the RCMA supports the creation of a federal tax credit for reflective roof coatings applied to low slope roof surfaces on multi-family residential, commercial and industrial buildings.

An EPA Proposal to Reduce Ground-level Ozone Will Affect the Roofing Industry

On Nov. 26, 2014, the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to reduce the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. The existing National Ozone Standard, last strengthened in 2008, sets the acceptable level of ozone at 75 parts per billion (ppb); the proposal calls for lowering that level to 65-70ppb, or even as low as 60ppb. The National Association of Manufacturers, Washington, has called the new proposed standard the “the most expensive regulation in history,” and its passage could result in widespread effects felt across the nation and a wide array of industries, including roofing.

Ozone NAAQS and Nonattainment

Tropospheric (ground-level) ozone is one of six “criteria” pollutants regulated by the EPA, pursuant to the 1990 Clean Air Act, because it has negative human-health impacts and can be damaging to vegetative growth. Ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) combine with sunlight. Significant anthropogenic (manmade) sources of VOC and NOx emissions include industrial and manufacturing facilities, vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and solvents used in consumer and commercial coatings and paints.

The ozone NAAQS sets permissible ozone levels; those states and regions that do not meet those thresholds are designated as “nonattainment” areas. A nonattainment designation requires that the state develop and submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to the EPA, which outlines the steps that will be taken to reach and maintain compliance, or “attainment”. The steps that a state may take to work toward ozone attainment are varied but often include control measures over manufacturing and industrial processes; regulations aimed to reduce VOC emissions from paints, coatings, and manufacturing processes; or voluntary measures, such as programs that encourage the use of mass transit to reduce vehicle usage.

Additionally, the nonattainment designation comes with specific mandates from the EPA. These include tougher permitting requirements for new or expanding facilities, potential loss of federal highway and transit funding, EPA oversight in permitting, and requirements to “offset” any new emissions sources by reducing emissions in existing operations or by purchasing emissions credits from others.

Many states and regions, including California and the majority of the Northeast’s I-95 corridor, are still working to comply with the 2008 ozone standard’s 75ppb level. The proposal to lower the existing ozone standard to within the range of 65-70ppb will result in a significant increase in nonattainment areas across the country, which will in turn result in growth of stationary source restrictions and state-level regulations as states develop SIPs for achieving lower ozone levels.

The effects of a stricter ozone standard will be felt across the nation and in a wide variety of industries. “Background ozone”, or the ozone levels that would exist regardless of the presence of industry, is 30ppb or higher in most areas. For such regions, lowering the standard from 75ppb to 65ppb would represent a mandate to reduce anthropogenic ozone by more than 20 percent. Additional reductions may prove difficult to achieve and costly, especially for those areas of the country that have already implemented control measures to achieve attainment with the 2008 Standard.

Effects on the Roofing Industry

One area of particular significance to the roofing industry will be VOC regulations for architectural and industrial maintenance (AIM) coatings, as well as for industrial adhesives and sealants, which are used in the application of certain roof systems and for continued maintenance and protection of many roofs. The VOC content for a variety of AIM coatings is regulated on the national level by the EPA. Additionally, there are more stringent VOC regulations in place today across the majority of the Northeast, in several Great Lakes states, and in California’s 35 air districts for AIM coatings and adhesives and sealants as part of those states’ and regions’ SIPs for reaching attainment on existing ozone standards.

While there are regulatory bodies, such as the California Air Resources Board, Ozone Transport Commission and the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium that provide guidance on ozone attainment, it is ultimately left up to the states (and in the case of California, individual air districts) to develop and implement VOC regulations. As such, VOC regulations vary from state to state and region to region with rules that contain disparate VOC content limits, compliance dates, and record-keeping and reporting requirements, which can make compliance highly challenging.

Purpose of VOCs in Roof Coatings

VOCs are included in a wide array of coatings for several reasons. Solvent-based coatings can be used as an alternative to waterborne technologies, especially where freeze/thaw resistance and product application and storage in cooler climates or in winter months is required. VOCs are used to dissolve solids to keep coatings in a liquid phase, allowing for them to be applied prior to the solvent flashing out and the product curing to form a solid layer. Furthermore, coatings may be formulated with VOCs because of the solvents’ ability to soften the substrate that the coating is being applied to, improving the application and ultimate performance of the coating.

As new, stricter VOC regulations are introduced and VOC content limits are lowered in different roof coating, adhesive and sealant product categories, several negative consequences may occur. First, it may become more difficult to apply the product or to apply the product at an appropriately thin layer. Additionally, the performance of the product may be negatively impacted, which could result in the need for additional product application throughout the lifetime of the roof or, in extreme cases, a reduced life-span of the roof. Although there are many excellent waterborne technologies available, the use of water-based coatings may not be an acceptable alternative in all situations or in all roof systems.

The Path Forward

The ozone NAAQS’s publication in the Federal Register begins a 90-day comment period, which will be supplemented by several public hearings in the early months of 2015. Should the rulemaking continue forward and a lower ozone standard be approved, the EPA will begin designating attainment and nonattainment areas, which will start the process for the development of SIPs containing a host of new regulations across the country.

For manufacturers, specifiers and contractors alike, an influx of VOC regulations will prove challenging. Formulators will be forced to create high-performing products using lower-solvent content or through the use of exempt solvents; applicators will need to be aware of the rules in place to ensure they are applying compliant products; end-users will need to learn that products they have had in the past may no longer be available. Even under today’s ozone standard, keeping apace of the multitudinous and constantly changing VOC regulations is a large task. EPA’s final determination of a new ozone standard could prove to have significant and long-term ramifications that will be felt for many decades to come.