Extruded Polystyrene Insulation Reduces Embodied Carbon

On January 1, 2021, Canada and several U.S. states enacted stringent new environmental regulations to address concerns about high-Global Warming Potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) blowing agents. With this change, sustainability and smart material performance are coming together in FOAMULAR NGX (Next Generation Extruded) insulation. Developed by Owens Corning, the latest innovation in extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation contains a proprietary blowing agent that completely eliminates HFC 134a. FOAMULAR NGX delivers a 90 percent reduction in blowing agent GWP compared to legacy FOAMULAR insulation and is optimized to demonstrate a greater than 80 percent reduction in embodied carbon. 

Owens Corning’s efforts to achieve a higher level of sustainability in rigid foam building materials predate this latest regulatory moment. More than six years of research and development and the evaluation of over 100 blowing agent formulations support the introduction of FOAMULAR NGX. In developing the new insulation, research and development teams sought to reduce the blowing agent’s GWP without sacrificing the material’s many performance attributes including high R-value per inch, a wide range of compressive strengths, superior moisture resistance and durability. 

Manufactured with patented Hydrovac technology, FOAMULAR NGX is highly resistant to moisture and retains its high R-value even after prolonged exposure to moisture and freeze/thaw cycling. The product is available in many compressive strengths, up to 100 psi, and is well suited to applications across the enclosure, from load-bearing vegetative roofs and foundational supports to wall assemblies. And as a further measure of confidence, FOAMULAR NGX offers a limited lifetime warranty guaranteeing a minimum 90 percent of R-value for the life of the product.

The sustainability profile of FOAMULAR NGX is validated by a third-party verified Environmental Product Declaration and Optimization Report. A greater than 80 percent reduction in GWP qualifies FOAMULAR NGX as 1.5 products towards LEED 4.1 points for Options 1 and 2 under the Materials and Resources: Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). As a widely recognized standard of sustainability, the EPD can provide even more incentives to integrate sustainability features into the commercial enclosure, such as vegetative roof assemblies or below-grade use. Specifying and installing FOAMULAR NGX can help builders achieve U.S. green building program certifications including LEED, the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR, and the National Home Builders’ National Green Building Standard ICC 700-2008. 

The manufacturing process and material content of FOAMULAR NGX also support sustainability. Manufactured with 100 percent wind electricity, the product is GREENGUARD Gold certified, reusable, and certified by Scientific Certification Systems to contain a minimum of 20 percent recycled polystyrene. 

The potential for this innovation to reduce environmental pressure on the planet can be more fully appreciated when viewed through the lens of more commonly discussed energy metrics. 
Owens Corning’s sustainability team used an environmental calculator to evaluate how switching from a competitive XPS product could reduce GWP. The reduction potential is dramatic. For every 1 million board feet (BFT) of FOAMULAR NGX consumed versus the leading competitor, CO2 levels are reduced by 6,966 metric tons on average. To put the savings in context, that’s like taking 1,500 cars off the road for a year. (EPA. March 2020. Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator.) 

FOAMULAR NGX is Underwriters Laboratory (UL) Listed and Factory Mutual (FM) approved. Retaining its same, iconic Pink color, FOAMULAR NGX is now available to order in all U.S. states and Canada.

More information and an interactive map that tracks state-by-state environmental regulations to lower the GWP levels of blowing agents is available on the Owens Corning FOAMULAR® NGX™ resource page.

For more information, visit www.owenscorning.com.

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