Polyiso Insulation to Be Used in Innovative Apartment Complex for the Homeless

Polyiso roof insulation will be used in an innovative apartment building project that combines state-of-the-art environmental features with affordable rents for homeless families. The polyiso insulation, donated by the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Associations (PIMA), Hunter Panels and Atlas Roofing Co., will be used in the Transitional Housing Corp.’s Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Commons (Weinberg Commons).

The Washington, D.C., Weinberg Commons will reclaim three blighted buildings in Southeast D.C., using Passive House architectural principles that reduce the carbon footprint and the utility costs for low-income tenants.

When finished in mid-2015, the apartments will provide 36 low and moderate income families including 12 homeless or formerly homeless families with below-market rents, employment services and other support for youth and families. One-third of the units will be reserved for families with more intensive needs.

“Our goal is sustainability, not just in the environmental sense, but in an economic sense to keep these families in a stable, supportive situation,: said Polly Donaldson, executive director of the Transitional Housing Corporation, a D.C.-based nonprofit that functions as the co-developer, landlord and service provider on this project.

Generally considered the most stringent energy standard in the world, Passive House building is an innovative approach to net-zero building. Instead of relying on active energy reduction systems with high installation costs, Passive House buildings concentrate on energy use reduction. Passive House buildings work with natural systems to manage heat gain and loss, saving up to 90% of utility costs. In fact, the U.S. DOE recognizes the Passive House approach as the most efficient means of achieving net-zero building operations

“It is a privilege for our members to be part of a project that addresses both homelessness and sustainable housing,” said Jared Blum, President, PIMA. “Polyiso insulation is known for it high thermal performance and will be a key contributor for this net-zero building that is extremely insulated, heated by passive solar gains and requires ultra-low energy for space heating or cooling.”

The groundbreaking ceremony for Weinberg Commons was held in October and attended by Washington Mayor Vincent Gray.

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.

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.

Energy Code: New Language for Roof Repair, Recover and Replacement

When existing roofs (that are part of the building’s thermal envelope) are removed and replaced and when the roof assembly includes above-deck insulation, the energy code now requires that the insulation levels comply with the requirements for new construction, according to a proposal approved by International Code Council at public comment hearings held in October 2013.

As a result of this proposal approval, the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) includes new language that provides unambiguous direction on how the energy code provisions apply to roof repair, roof recover and roof replacement.

Each year about 2.5 billion square feet of roof coverings are installed on existing buildings. The opportunity to upgrade the insulation levels on these roof systems occurs once every several decades when the roof is replaced or even longer when existing roofs are “recovered”. Until recently this requirement was prescribed using vague and confusing language.

“There has been a great deal of confusion given the various terms used to describe roofing projects on existing buildings in both the International Building Code and the International Energy Conservation Code, such as reroofing, roof repair, roof recover and roof replacement,” says Jared O. Blum, president, Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA).

Moving forward the IECC will use the same definitions found in the International Building code:

  • Reroofing. The process of recovering or replacing an existing roof covering. See “Roof recover” and “Roof replacement.”
  • Roof Recover. The process of installing an additional roof covering over a prepared existing roof covering without removing the existing roof covering.
  • Roof Replacement. The process of removing the existing roof covering, repairing any damaged substrate and installing a new roof covering.
  • Roof Repair. Reconstruction or renewal of any part of an existing roof for the purposes of its maintenance.

“A survey of building departments in many states and regions in the United States found that online roofing permit application forms rarely included any information on the energy code and required insulation levels,” Blum adds. “With the changes to the 2015 IECC, it will be easier for building departments to correlate the building- and energy-code requirements for roof replacements.”

The clarification to the 2015 IECC makes the code easier to interpret and enforce. Along the way, it will help ensure the opportunity to save energy when replacing roofs.

“Numerous studies have demonstrated the energy-savings provided by a well-insulated roofing system,” Blum says. “It is critical to minimize energy losses and upgrade insulation levels when roofs are replaced to comply with code requirements for new construction.”

Another benefit of this update is that the exemption for roof repair is now clearly defined, making it easier for building owners and roofing contractors to perform routine maintenance without triggering energy efficiency upgrades, which would add costs.

Whitton Assumes PIMA Chairmanship

The Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) has announced that Jim Whitton, vice president of Sales and Marketing at Hunter Panels LLC, has assumed the chairmanship of the organization as of Jan. 1, 2014. He succeeds Dr. Chris Griffin of Johns Manville Roofing Systems, who has served as the PIMA chairman for the last two years.

“Given his extensive roofing industry expertise, his deep understanding of the polyiso insulation industry and his experience working with the Association on numerous task groups and initiatives, Jim is the perfect choice to lead PIMA,” says Jared Blum, PIMA president. “We look forward to his leadership as code and standard setting bodies continue to embrace and reiterate the value of building thermal performance.”

Whitton, a 28-year veteran of the roofing industry, has worked at Hunter Panels since its founding. He graduated from DePaul University with degrees in both accounting and education. Prior to joining Hunter Panels, Whitton served as the Regional Tapered Manager and Marketing Manager for NRG Barriers. He is also a current member of PIMA’s Board of Directors as well as the Roof Consultants Institute.

“This is an auspicious time to lead the polyiso industry,” Whitton says. “In the last few months ASHRAE has published increased R-value requirements in the 90.1 standard, the International Code Council has clarified insulation requirements for reroofing projects and PIMA has updated its the QualityMark program in accordance with ASTM C1298-13. All these initiative further reflect the polyiso industry’s long-term commitment to cost effective, sustainable and energy-efficient construction.”