French Kings, Solar Power and Sustainability

Louis XIV is not a frequent reference point in today’s discussions about the world’s energy and sustainability paths. However, this longest ruling French monarch (1643-1715) was known as the “Sun King” as he often referred to himself as the center of the universe and was enamored of the sun itself. He also was the builder of Versailles, the construction of which was viewed as very innovative for its day with gardens and roads that Louis XIV arrayed in a pattern to track the sun’s movements.

2014 International Solar Decathlon in Versailles, France. PHOTO: SDEurope

2014 International Solar Decathlon in Versailles, France. PHOTO: SDEurope

With this in mind, it is not such a stretch to understand why the organizers of the 2014 International Solar Decathlon chose the Versailles grounds in which to hold this extraordinary exhibition, from which I have recently returned. The 15-day exhibition featured more than 20 universities from around the world, with Brown University/Rhode Island School of Design and Appalachian State University as the two U.S. competitors.

During each day of the competition, the entrants were subjected to judges’ inspection to assess performance in categories, such as architecture, communications (ability to literally tell their house’s story to press and visitors), energy efficiency, engineering and construction, and sustainability.

PIMA’s sponsorship of Appalachian State and the providing of polyiso insulation by Atlas Roofing to ASU demonstrated the role high-performance insulation plays in the future of the built environment.

However, it is not individual product performance that most impresses the visitor to these extraordinary homes. Yes, they all make exceptional use of the solar power generated by their installed PV systems (they are limited by the rules to only 5 kWh of electricity production from which they must run refrigerators, air conditioning, washers and dryers) and each home has an array of innovative products. But it is the synergistic result of the products’ application combined with the unbelievable ingenuity of the students and professors that excited me the most.

2014 International Solar Decathlon PHOTO: SDEurope

The “decathletes” at the 2014 International Solar Decathlon in Versailles, France. PHOTO: SDEurope

Some buildings were representative of new construction. For example, the ASU entrant was a modular townhome with the potential to assemble into a collective urban building.

In addition, recognizing that existing buildings are the greatest energy challenge, the effort to improve our world’s retrofit capabilities truly caught my eye. For example, the Berlin Rooftop Project focuses on abandoned rooftop space in that city to create studios for younger urban dwellers, while the Dutch (Delft University) addressed the poorly insulated townhomes that make up over 60 percent of Dutch homes by applying a “second skin” while including a garden capability within the home.

The several days I spent at the event were educational, but nothing was more inspiring than speaking with the students themselves. Be they from Chile, France, Germany, Japan, the United States or any of the other countries involved, their passion was compelling. The intellect and commitment of these future architects, engineers, designers and urban planners to finding sustainable solutions for the planet gives me a distinct optimism for our future.

Polyiso Industry Praises Proposal for Reduction in U.S. Carbon Emissions

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft proposal under Section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act calling for greenhouse-gas emissions reduction of 30 percent by 2030. The new rule is geared to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants across the United States by providing states with a flexible menu of policy options for compliance.

“The proposed regulation from the EPA and the White House provide the tipping point in coalescing this country’s already strong technical capabilities to lower our carbon output,” said Jared Blum, president, Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). “It is PIMA’s strong belief that energy efficiency in buildings can achieve much of what needs to be done.””

According to the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, America’s total annual energy consumption in 2013 was 5.0 percent below 2007 levels. This long-term trend was in part prompted by the economic downturn of 2008-2009, but as economic growth has returned, energy use is not growing at a commensurate rate, and today our economy is far more energy-efficient than before.

“Our military, industrial and scientific leaders have requested that our government provide an actionable path forward. The 111(d) proposal is one such path that deserves broad business support,” added Blum.

A significant opportunity to increase building energy efficiency lies within the commercial roofing sector. Waterproof membranes on commercial low-slope roofs (flat roofs) last, on average, 17 years. When these membranes are replaced, building owners could add a reasonable amount of insulation, a practice that would save $12.2 billion in energy costs in just the first ten years. The annual savings after ten years would be $2.4 billion. This activity would also avoid 105 million tons of CO2 emissions, an amount that is equal to the annual emissions of 27 coal-fired power plants.

Project Profiles: Health Care

MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL, BOSTON

TEAM

Roofing contractor: Chapman Waterproofing Co., Boston
Architect/engineer: Cambridge Seven Associates Inc., Cambridge, Mass.
Membrane and waterproofing manufacturer: Kemper System America Inc.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, features a Kemperol waterproofing and roofing membrane for its green roof.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, features a Kemperol waterproofing and roofing membrane for its green roof.

ROOF MATERIALS

The Kempertec EP-Primer was used to prepare the substrate surfaces for membrane installation and served as a temporary waterproofing system, allowing the project to be exposed to the harsh New England winter while it was completed in phased stages.

The owners chose the Kemperol waterproofing and roofing membrane, a two-component with catalyst, high-performance, seamless and self-terminating cold-fluid-applied reinforced unsaturated polyester system. The monolithic edge-to-edge rot- and root-resistant Kemper membrane is engineered to resist degradation from UV exposure and heat intensity and is resistant to most common chemicals.

ROOF REPORT

Founded in 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital is the third oldest general hospital in the U.S. and the oldest and largest in New England. The 900-bed medical center offers sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic care in virtually every specialty and subspecialty of medicine and surgery. When MGH’s owners envisioned constructing a new 9,000-square-foot green roof above the MGH cancer wing, they had two chief concerns: safety and long-term durability.

The landscaped roof design includes four different gardens with extensive shrubbery, trees and grass designed to provide cancer patients with a haven for relaxation and meditation to aid in the healing process.

A key challenge concerning the hospital’s green roof was its hundreds of penetrations, spaced inches apart, for a sprinkler system to irrigate the landscaped roof. A leak-detection system was installed across the entire square footage of the project to detect water before it seeps into the interior of the building. The leak-detection system confirms the project’s seal-tight success. Upon completion, Kemper System provided a 20-year, no-dollar-limit warranty.

PHOTO: KEMPER SYSTEM AMERICA INC.

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PIMA Sponsors Appalachian State Solar Decathlon Europe Entry

The Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) announced that it has signed on as a Kilowatt Level sponsor of Appalachian State University‘s entry to the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014.

Appalachian State University (Appalachian) is one of only three U.S. universities selected to participate in the prestigious Solar Decathlon Europe 2014, an international competition inspired by the U.S. Solar Decathlon that challenges student teams to design and build an energy-independent solar house. Twenty projects were selected for the competition out of a total of 44 candidacies from 23 countries.

“Using effective and accessible products in Maison Reciprocity such as polyiso, allows our team to dramatically improve upon the beloved row house typology without radically changing the norm in terms of products and systems,” says Appalachian State University Graduate Construction Manager, Scott Hopkins. “With a continuous layer of polyiso wrapping the building envelope, we can let more natural daylight into a traditionally long, narrow row house without sacrificing thermal performance.”

Appalachian is partnering with the University of Angers in Angers, France. The collaboration, dubbed Team Réciprocité, will present their energy plus house design, Maison Reciprocity, in Versailles from June 27 through July 14, 2014.

Team Réciprocité is committed to utilizing affordable solutions and practical, technological alternatives, such as polyiso insulation, to ensure that Maison Reciprocity remains highly sustainable throughout its life cycle. Using cross-laminated timber (CLT) as its primary structural system, Maison Reciprocity will be designed in modular, panelized components that may be flat-packed for easy transport and shipping.

“Maison Reciprocity will feature the latest in building systems technology as well as incorporate one of the most energy efficient insulation products available today, polyiso,” says Jared O. Blum, president of PIMA. “With the highest R-value per inch of any insulation product, and the only on that is third party certified, polyiso will be a critical component in this Solar Decathlon Europe entry.

“Our sponsorship underscores the polyiso industry’s commitment to net zero energy buildings – where the future of construction lies,” adds Blum.

Maison Reciprocity will be scalable to fit the needs of different sites, communities and owners while remaining energy independent. The final product will be a re-imagined row house, consisting of multiple stories and units.

“Using effective and accessible products in Maison Reciprocity such as polyiso, allows our team to dramatically improve upon the beloved row house typology without radically changing the norm in terms of products and systems,” says Scott Hopkins, graduate construction manager for Maison Reciprocity. “With a continuous layer of polyiso wrapping the building envelope, we can let in more natural daylight into a traditionally long, narrow row house without sacrificing thermal performance.”

PIMA member Atlas Roofing Company is also a sponsor of Team Réciprocité’s entry, Maison Reciprocity. Atlas Rboard is the main insulation throughout the house with four inches of Atlas Rboard polyiso being used as continuous insulation over CLT and stick frame walls.

The Solar Decathlon Europe will be will take place in France, neighboring the spectacular Château de Versailles June 27 to July 14, 2014.

Polyiso Roof Insulation R-value Update

An update to ASTM C1289, “Standard Specification for Faced Rigid Cellular Polyisocyanurate Thermal Insulation”, (ASTM C1289-13) features important improvements regarding the prediction of Long-Term Thermal Resistance (LTTR) for a variety of polyiso insulation roof boards. Members of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) began reporting LTTR values in accordance with ASTM C1289-13 on Jan. 1, 2014.

ASTM C1289

ASTM C1289 was first published in 1998. The standard is a series of physical property tests, including the measure of an insulation’s LTTR, conducted to ensure a polyiso product’s performance meets a minimum standard. The standard is used to predict an insulation’s R-value equivalent to the average performance of a permeably faced foam insulation product during 15 years.

To provide a comprehensive approach to predicting long-term R-value throughout North America, the updated ASTM C1289-13 standard incorporates two test methods: ASTM C1303-11 and CAN/ULC-S770-09. Each of these methods offers a similar approach to predicting the long-term thermal performance for foam insulation materials that exhibit air and blowing-agent diffusion or aging across time.

ASTM C1303, “Standard Test Method for Estimating the Long-Term Change in the Thermal Resistance of Unfaced Closed Cell Plastic Foams by Slicing and Scaling Under Controlled Laboratory Conditions”, is, in part, the result of a research project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The project was co-funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, PIMA, NRCA and the Society of the Plastics Industry.

CAN/ULC S770 is the result of work in Canada. This method is also based on the same thin-slicing and accelerated aging concept as ASTM C1303 but it also accounts for the effect of permeable facings, or skins, on the LTTR of foam insulation in addition to a number of other factors. Considered to be a prescriptive way to perform ASTM C1303 (a more narrowly defined procedure within the bounds described in the ASTM standard), CAN/ULC S770 predicts what the foam’s R-value will be after a five-year aging period—the equivalent to a time-weighted thermal design R-value of 15 years.

Based on extensive research during the past five years, including bias and ruggedness testing, most researchers now agree ASTM C 1303 and CAN/ULC–S770 provide similar and consistent results predictive of actual aged performance.

LTTR and Polyiso

The polyiso industry uses the newly revised ASTM C1289-13 standard for determining the thermal insulation efficiency of permeably faced products. LTTR represents the most advanced scientific method to measure the long-term thermal resistance of foam insulation products using blowing agents.

The use of an LTTR value provides numerous advantages:

  • It provides a technically supported, more descriptive measure of the long-term thermal resistance of polyiso insulation.
  • The thin slices are taken from current production insulation samples. Prior methods used samples that were at least three-months old with some up to six-months old.
  • Determining an LTTR value is fairly rapid and, depending on a slice’s thickness, can produce an LTTR design value for 2-inch-thick polyiso insulation board in about 90 days.
  • A formula is used to determine the aging time period for a particular thickness of insulation, instead of using the same conditioning period for products of all thicknesses as was done in the past.
  • It applies to all foam insulation with blowing agents other than air and provides a better understanding of the thermal performance of foam.

PIMA QualityMark

The PIMA QualityMark certification program is a voluntary program that allows polyiso manufacturers to obtain independent, third-party certification for the LTTR values for ASTM C1289 Type II, Class 1 and Class 2 permeable-faced polyiso foam insulation produced with EPA-compliant blowing agents. Participating companies are required to include each of their manufacturing locations in the PIMA QualityMark certification program. Polyiso is the only insulation to be certified by this program for its LTTR value.

The PIMA QualityMark program began reporting LTTR values in accordance with ASTM C1289-13 on Jan. 1. To participate in PIMA’s QualityMark certification program, a Class 1 roof is suggested to have a design R-value of 5.7 per inch.

FM Global, one of the world’s largest independent commercial and industrial property insurance and risk-management organizations, is the PIMA QualityMark certification administrator. Polyiso insulation samples are randomly chosen from each plant of a participating manufacturer in accordance with the program’s guidelines. An accredited testing laboratory then establishes and certifies to FM Global the 15-year LTTR value in accordance with ASTM C1289-13.

National Building Code of Canada Adopts Updated Standard for Measuring LTTR of Polyiso Products

On Oct. 31, 2013, the National Building Code (NBC) of Canada adopted the most recent version of CAN/ULC-S704-11, the standard specification for polyiso in Canada, which references the test method CAN/ULC-S770-09 for determining the long-term thermal resistance (LTTR) of polyiso foam insulation. This adoption brings consistency to the test methods used for measuring LTTR in Canada and the U.S.

In the U.S., polyiso manufacturers use the ASTM C1289 standard (ASTM C1289 Standard Specification for Faced Rigid Cellular Polyisocyanurate Thermal Insulation Board) to predict the long-term thermal resistance R-value for a variety of polyiso insulation boards. ASTM C1289 includes the CAN/ULC-S770-09 and ASTM C1303-12, another test method used for LTTR.

“Since our members make and ship product in the United States and Canada, it is critical that polyiso insulation be subjected to the same criteria for measuring LTTR in both countries,” says Jared Blum, president PIMA. “We are pleased that the NBC in Canada has adopted CAN/ULC-S704-11 and CAN/ULC-S770-09 and that it is in harmony with ASTM C1289. Together these standards provide more data for predicting the long-term thermal performance of polyiso insulation and further enhances the validity of PIMA’s QualityMark program.”

The PIMA QualityMark program, the only third-party program for the certification of the thermal value of polyiso insulation, allows polyiso manufacturers to obtain independent, third-party certification for the LTTR values of their polyiso insulation products. Polyiso is the only insulation to be certified by this unique program for its LTTR value. The program was developed by PIMA and is administered by FM Global.

To participate in PIMA’s QualityMark certification program, a Class 1 roof is suggested to have a design R-value of 5.7 per inch. PIMA member manufacturers will publish updated R-values for their polyiso products later this year. Polyiso is unique in that the R-value increases with the thickness of the foam, so three inches of polyiso has a higher R-value per inch than two inches.

Johns Manville Advises Customers of Revised LTTR Values

Johns Manville is advising customers of revised LTTR, or Long-Term Thermal Resistance, values for its polyisocyanurate insulation product line through a packet of information detailing the updated specifications. JM also has modified its packaging to reflect LTTR values by both test methods. As an example, a 1-inch board label will now include information from LTTR-S770-03: 6.0 (the old test method) and LTTR-S770-09: 5.7 (the new test method). To learn more and access an informational booklet, visit www. jm.com and click on the LTTR banner.

PIMA QualityMark Will Begin Reporting ASTM C1289-11 LTTR Values

The ASTM C1289 Standard Specification for Faced Rigid Cellular Polyisocyanurate Thermal Insulation Board (ASTM C1289-11) has been updated and features important improvements regarding the prediction of long-term thermal resistance value for a variety of polyiso insulation boards. The PIMA QualityMark program, the only third-party program for the certification of the thermal value of polyiso insulation, will begin reporting Long Term Thermal Resistance (LTTR) values in accordance with ASTM C1289-11 on Jan. 1, 2014.

The PIMA QualityMark certification program is a voluntary program that allows polyiso manufacturers to obtain independent, third-party certification for the LTTR values of their polyiso insulation products. Polyiso is the only insulation to be certified by this program for its LTTR value. The program was developed by Washington, D.C.-based PIMA and is administered by FM Global, Johnston, R.I.

To participate in PIMA’s QualityMark certification program, a Class 1 roof is suggested to have a design R-value of 5.7 per inch. PIMA member manufacturers will publish updated R-values for their polyiso products later this year. Polyiso is unique in that the R-value increases with the thickness of the foam, so 3 inches of polyiso has a higher R-value per inch than 2 inches.

“Since its founding, PIMA has been very active in the harmonization of relevant standards, including ASTM and CAN/ ULC, in an effort to provide greater continuity in the reporting of polyiso roof insulation thermal values throughout North America. That is why the association implemented the industry-wide Quality-Mark certified R-value program for rigid polyiso roof insulation in 2004,” says Jared Blum, president, PIMA. “The update to this standard provides more data to aid in the prediction of long-term thermal performance of polyiso insulation.”

To provide a comprehensive approach to predicting long-term R-value throughout North America, the updated ASTM C1289-11 standard now incorporates two test methods, ASTM C1303-11 and CAN/ULC-S770-09, which offer a similar approach to predicting the long-term thermal performance for foam insulation materials that exhibit air and blowing agent diffusion or aging over time. Both test methods employ a technique called “slicing and scaling” to accelerate this aging process and provide an accurate and consistent prediction of product R-value after five years, which is equivalent to a time-weighted thermal design R-value for 15 years. The update to ASTM C1289-11 in no way impacts polyiso’s physical properties.