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.

‘The International Energy Conservation Code as Applied to Commercial Roofing’ Brochure Is Released

A new energy code brochure, “The International Energy Conservation Code as Applied to Commercial Roofing”, has been released explaining reroofing clarifications in the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The reroofing clarifications make it very clear that almost every commercial reroofing project involving the removal and replacement of the existing roof covering must be upgraded to the current IECC R-value levels.

The Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), with the assistance of the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (the Center) and the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Associations (PIMA), developed and released the new energy code brochure.

“Billions of square feet of low-slope of commercial roofs (roofs with insulation above the deck) are replaced every year in the United States,” said Jared Blum, President, PIMA. “The clarification in the IECC means that whenever an existing low-slope roofing membrane is removed before a new roofing membrane is installed, the underlying roof insulation must be brought up to current code-mandated R-value levels.”

The new code clarification establishes specific definitions for each major type of roofing activity that may occur on a commercial building:

    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 an 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.

The new brochure, similar in format to many other IMT brochures, contains:

  • A detailed listing of the key definitions and energy regulations that apply to commercial roofing.
  • Illustrations of typical roofing conditions.
  • A decision tree to determine the specific compliance path for any roofing application.

“Because it is considered a clarification rather than a new addition to the code, officials can start enforcing the update now and don’t have to wait until the 2015 version of the IECC is adopted in their jurisdiction. This brochure is succinct, easy to follow and clearly explains how to comply with the clarification,” added Blum.

“The International Energy Conservation Code as Applied to Commercial Roofing” brochure will help local code officials better understand the energy efficiency requirements for all types of commercial roofing projects and also serve as a useful guide to explain the code requirements to roofing contractors seeking construction permits, design professionals (architects, engineers, roof consultants) involved in roofing selection and specification, as well as building owners as the ultimate end-user of the code.

“The brochure is a part of a comprehensive effort by PIMA to inform members of the design community about their legal obligations to comply with the reroofing energy upgrade requirement,” added Blum.

In addition to advocating for increased building energy efficiency via improved building codes, IMT also works to increase compliance with energy codes by developing and distributing informational materials suitable for use in local code jurisdictions, not only for code officials but also for owners, designers, and contractors.

Washington, D.C., Habitat for Humanity Uses 8 Inches of Polyiso on Roof

Six passive townhomes that are part of Habitat for Humanity’s Ivy City community of Northeast Washington are including 8 inches of polyiso insulation on the roof. These passive townhouses are designed to reduce overall energy consumption by 70 percent and heating and cooling demand by 80 to 90 percent.

The six townhouses are being built to meet the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Passive House specifications. Founded in 2007, PHIUS is the leading certifier of passive buildings.

“The Ivy City townhouses show the role high-performance insulation plays in the built environment, particularly when it comes to designing homes that are more affordable to operate,” said Jared Blum, president of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). “We are proud to be involved with this Habitat for Humanity project that will provide much needed affordable housing in the nation?s capital.”

PIMA member companies—Atlas Roofing, Firestone Building Products, GAF, Hunter Panels, JM, and R-max—donated the polyiso for this project in celebration of the association’s 25th anniversary.

“The passive house model embodies Habitat for Humanity’s vision that all people deserve safe, comfortable, affordable and sustainable housing, and the polyiso insulation contributes to that vision,” said Andrew Modley, production manager, Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. “Passive housing will provide our homeowner families with an ability to consume significantly less energy overall by using passive integrated design, climate appropriate insulation, and airtight construction. These benefits will not only save the homeowners money, but will empower them to create a more sustainable lifestyle.”

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.

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.

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.”

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.