PIMA Announces Environmental Product Declarations for Polyiso Roof and Wall Insulations

Consistent with its delivery of energy-efficient and sustainable building insulation solutions, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) announced the receipt of third party-verified ISO-compliant Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for polyisocyanurate (polyiso) roof and wall insulations as manufactured by PIMA members across North America. An EPD is an internationally recognized and standardized tool that reports the environmental impacts of products.

These EPDs document that the energy-savings potential of polyiso roof and wall insulation during a typical 60-year building life span is equal to up to 47 times the initial energy required to produce, transport, install, maintain, and eventually remove and dispose of the insulation. In addition to a high return on embodied energy, the EPDs document that polyiso roof and wall insulation offer high unit R-value per inch, zero ozone depletion potential, recycled content, opportunity for reuse and outstanding fire performance.

Beyond providing consistent and comparable environmental impact data, the PIMA polyiso EPDs also present information about additional environmental and energy characteristics, including the high net return on energy provided by polyiso roof and wall insulation.

Specifically, the polyiso EPDs describe the environmental impacts of the combined weighted average production for PIMA member manufacturing locations located across the United States and Canada, based on an established set of product category rules applicable to all types of building thermal insulation. The environmental impacts reported in the PIMA polyiso EPDs are derived from independently verified cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) process, including all critical elements related to the resourcing, production, transport, installation, maintenance, and eventual removal and replacement of polyiso roof and wall insulation.

Using the LCA process, the PIMA polyiso roof and wall insulation products are evaluated on a number of impact categories including global warming potential, ozone depletion potential, eutrophication potential, acidification potential, and smog creation potential, as well as other environmental indicators including primary energy demand, resource depletion, waste to disposal, waste to energy, and water use.

PIMA polyiso roof and wall insulation EPDs also meet the requirements of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED v4 Green Building Rating System under Credit MRC-2 Building Product Disclosure and Optimization: Environmental Product Declarations as industry-wide or generic declarations that may be valued as one-half of an eligible product for the purposes of credit calculation.

“These third party-verified EPDs for polyiso roof and wall insulation products produced by PIMA manufacturers reflect our industry’s commitment to sustainability and transparency in reporting environmental performance,” says Jared Blum, president of PIMA. “These EPDs will be a valuable tool to provide environmental information to all building and design professionals, and they should be especially helpful in meeting emerging criteria for green building design.”

Insulation Types, Application Methods and Physical Characteristics Must Be Reviewed, Understood and Selected to Ensure Roof System Performance

Designing and constructing roof systems (see my previous articles about roof decks, substrate boards and vapor barriers) continues with the thermal insulation layer. The governing building codes will dictate the minimum R-value required and, based on the R-value of the selected insulation, the thickness of required insulation can be determined. This plays into the design of the roof edge, which will be the subject of future articles. For now, let’s focus on insulation.

Photo 1: Polyisocyanurate (ISO) with organic facers

Photo 1: Polyisocyanurate
(ISO) with organic facers

Thermal insulation has multiple purposes, including to:

    ▪▪ Provide an appropriate surface on which the roof cover can be placed.
    ▪▪ Assist in providing interior user comfort.
    ▪▪ Assist in uplift performance of the roof system.
    ▪▪ Provide support for rooftop activities.
    ▪▪ Keep the cool air in during the summer and out during the winter, resulting in energy savings.

INSULATION OPTIONS

For the designer, there are numerous insulation material choices, each with its own positive and negative characteristics. Today’s insulation options are:

    ▪▪ Polyisocyanurate (ISO)

  • »» Varying densities
  • »» Organic facers (see photos 1 and 2)
  • »» Double-coated fiberglass facers (see photo 3)
  • ▪▪ Expanded polystyrene (XPS) (see photo 4)

  • »» Varying densities
  • ▪▪ Extruded polystyrene (EPS) (see photo 5)

  • »» Varying densities
  • ▪▪ Mineral wool (see photo 6)

  • »» Varying densities
  • ▪▪ Perlite
    ▪▪ High-density wood fiber

With today’s codes, the use of perlite and high-density wood fiber as primary roof insulation is very limited. The R-value per inch and overall cost is prohibitive.

Some attributes of the more commonly used insulation types are:
POLYISOCYANURATE

Photo 2: Polyisocyanurate (ISO) with organic facers

Photo 2: Polyisocyanurate
(ISO) with organic facers

    ▪▪ Predominate roof insulation in the market
    ▪▪ Organic and double-coated fiberglass facers (mold-resistant)
    ▪▪ Varying densities available: 18 to 25 psi, nominal and minimum, as well as 80 to 125 psi high-density cover boards
    ▪▪ Has an allowable dimensional change, per the ASTM standard, that needs to be understood and designed for
    ▪▪ Can be secured via mechanical fasteners or installed in hot asphalt and/or polyurethane foam adhesive: bead and full-coverage spray foam
    ▪▪ Has an R-value just under 6.0 per inch but has some downward drifting over time

EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE (EPS)

    ▪▪ Has good moisture resistance but can accumulate moisture
    ▪▪ Direct application to steel decks is often a concern with fire resistance
    ▪▪ Has varying densities: 1.0 to 3.0 pound per cubic foot
    ▪▪ Very difficult to install in hot asphalt; basically not appropriate
    ▪▪ Certain products can be secured with mechanical fasteners or lowrise foam adhesive
    ▪▪ Has stable R-values: 3.1 to 4.3 per inch based upon classification type

EXTRUDED POLYSTYRENE (XPS)

    ▪▪ Has good moisture resistance and is often used in protected roof membrane systems and plaza deck applications
    ▪▪ Direct application to steel decks is often a concern with fire resistance
    ▪▪ Has varying compressive strengths: 20 to 100 psi
    ▪▪ Not appropriate to be installed in hot asphalt
    ▪▪ Has stable R-values: 3.9 to 5 per inch based on classification type

MINERAL WOOL

    ▪▪ Outstanding fire resistance
    ▪▪ Stable thermal R-value: 4.0 per inch
    ▪▪ No dimensional change in thickness or width over time
    ▪▪ Available in differing densities
    ▪▪ May absorb and release moisture
    ▪▪ Can be installed in hot asphalt or mechanically attached

PHOTOS: HUTCHINSON DESIGN GROUP LTD.

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Fire Resistance Is Built into Polyiso’s Polymer

ENRGY 3.E from Johns Manville

ENRGY 3.E from Johns Manville

ENRGY 3.E from Johns Manville is the next generation of polyisocyanurate roof-board insulation whereby the fire resistance has been engineered into the polymer backbone without the need for added halogenated flame retardants. Unlike conventional halogenated flame retardants that are free un-bonded plasticizers mixed with the foam, the reactive polymer modifier used to produce ENRGY 3.E is a non-halogenated organo-phosphorus monomer that chemically reacts and bonds directly to the polymer network. This results in the polyiso performance attributes of the existing ENRGY 3 while being inherently fire-resistant and meeting all current fire codes.

Receive Pallets of Duro-Last ISO without Additional Freight Costs

Duro-Last Inc. announces that 11Ž2- and 2-inch thick, 4- by 8-foot Duro-Guard ISO (Polyisocyanurate) insulation is available from all Duro-Last manufacturing locations for contractors to pick up or to “fill up” a flatbed shipment. These locations include Saginaw, Mich.; Grants Pass, Ore.; Jackson, Miss.; Sigourney, Iowa; and Carrollton, Texas.

This is another cost-effective and convenient option for customers to take delivery of the most popular Duro-Guard ISO products where there is open space on a flatbed truck that is delivering a Duro-Last roof order. This means that Duro-Last customers can receive pallets of ISO without incurring any additional freight cost.

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.