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Nothing But the Best for the Big Ten: Terra Cotta Rainscreen Wall System With Continuous Insulation on New Headquarters Provides Style and Performance

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Since its inception in 1895, the Big Ten Conference has pioneered standards of excellence for intercollegiate sports. It should be no surprise then that the design of its headquarters building in Rosemont, Illinois features the construction industry’s highest performing products. In the Midwest, where temperatures can swing 100 degrees between winter and summer, the effectiveness of a building’s envelope, in particular, is a major factor on interior comfort, energy efficiency, and building durability.

Echoing the red brick buildings on the college campuses the Big Ten represents, designers chose a terra cotta rainscreen wall system that creates a striking façade for the 50,000-square-foot building. The tiles themselves are 12 x 48-inch panels with a bright red-orange color and a smooth finish. Their distinctive color is created using a single-clay composition, but there is a range of natural variations that enhance visual interest. The panels weren’t chosen just for their looks though. Each piece incorporates self-supporting extruded clay cleats that eliminate the need for metal support clips during the installation process—reducing costs and install time.

The terra cotta tiles are only the most exterior of the layers that wrap the Big Ten headquarters’ building envelope. These layers, called an open-joint rainscreen system, allow pressure to be equalized in the space between two exterior wall components so weather elements don’t reach the inner wall (rainscreen), which contains the moisture barrier and other critical components. This makes the building mold and mildew resistant—a huge bonus in an area known for its summer humidity. The panels are attached to exterior cold-formed metal framing, which supports the rainscreen system to resist the wind and snow loads for the Chicago area.

Behind the framing is the workhorse of the wall assembly, a commercial-grade insulation from Portland, ME-based Hunter Panels. The continuous insulation system used was manufactured at the local Hunter plant in Chicago. Continuous insulation, as its name suggests, covers the entire wall surface, with the obvious exception of windows, doors, and fasteners, minimizing heat loss and thermal bridging that is inevitable in systems that only insulate between the studs. Hunter’s Polyiso foam-board insulation with foil facers on both sides offers R-values from 6.3 to 19.5 in a single layer—a marked improvement over other insulation options. Since the insulation panels incorporate the moisture barrier required to protect the building, they also eliminate a step from the installation process.

Even though the construction team was unfamiliar with some of the wall system’s elements before this job, they were able to quickly master the installation techniques. The entire exterior took only six months to install and the Big Ten will be reaping benefits of such a maintenance-free and energy-efficient system for decades to come.


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Tags:  building  continuous insulation  energy efficiency  insulation  Polyiso  rainscreen 

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NFPA 285

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Improvements to the building envelope through the use of continuous insulation solutions have played a major role in mainstreaming high-performance construction practices that meet the requirements of commercial building energy codes. To meet the demands of today’s builds, architectural and design professionals must balance energy efficiency with whole building performance considerations, including fire safety. With respect to wall assemblies in Type I-IV Construction, understanding and properly implementing NFPA 285 can be a critical component for designing a compliant, high-performance building envelope.

NFPA 285 is a fire test standard that measures the flammability characteristics of exterior wall assemblies. More specifically, and according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), it “provides a standardized fire test procedure for evaluating the suitability of exterior, non-load bearing wall assemblies and panels used as components of curtain wall assemblies that are constructed using combustible materials or that incorporate combustible components for installation on buildings where the exterior walls are required to be non-combustible.” While the individual products used in the wall assembly carry product-specific fire tests, it is important that entire wall assemblies are tested to meet approved fire performance requirements and ensure the safety of the building occupants.

The NFPA 285 test is performed on both load-bearing and non-load-bearing wall assemblies. It requires a wall assembly mockup spanning two stories (18’ high) with a test room on each floor. A single window opening is provided in the first-story room where a test burner is located. This burner is ignited in order to simulate an interior room fire. A second burner located on the exterior side of the test wall further enhances the flames to the window header. The test simulates a common, real-world interior fire scenario that reaches flashover, breaches a window, and spreads upward along the wall face. The test examines fire performance of the entire wall assembly, including within the wall assembly. It’s important to note also that the test is conducted without any interior fire suppression system.

To pass the NFPA 285 test, flame propagation cannot occur on or within the wall assembly beyond a certain distance either vertically or laterally from the area of flame plume impingement. Thermocouples are placed throughout the wall assembly to measure temperatures. Exceeding defined temperature limits results in a test failure. Additional requirements include:

  • No flame propagation in second-floor room;
  • The inside wall assembly thermocouples shall not exceed 1000°F rise during the 30-minute test;
  • External flames shall not reach 10′ above the top of the window; and
  • The external flame shall not reach 5′ laterally from the center line of the window.

It is a common misconception that only foam insulation products trigger NFPA 285. While any wall containing foam plastic insulation in Types I-IV Construction must comply with the test requirements, the use of other wall assembly configurations may also need to pass NFPA 285. These assemblies can include those constructed with combustible claddings and weather resistant barriers.

Since 2000, NFPA 285 has been in the International Building Code (IBC) and has gained attention due to the increased diversity in exterior wall systems and greater compliance with building energy efficiency standards. To learn more about NFPA 285, please refer to the National Fire Protection Association.

Tags:  building codes  building envelope  fire performance  NFPA 285  Type I-IV 

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Polyiso Continuous Insulation

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 11, 2019
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2019

Improvements to model energy codes are boosting advances in the use of insulation for commercial and residential building envelopes. Continuous insulation (CI) is quickly becoming the standard for high-performance building due to its ability to greatly improve operational performance while simplifying design and installation. In the ASHRAE 90.1 standard, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-rise Residential Buildings, CI is defined as: "Insulation that is continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings. It is installed on the interior, exterior, or is integral to any opaque surface of the building envelope."

CI is one of the most thermally efficient ways of complying with modern energy codes and mitigates energy loss that commonly results from thermal bridging. A thermal bridge, also called a cold bridge, heat bridge, or thermal bypass, is an area with higher thermal conductivity than the surrounding materials—like the studs of a wall that have batt insulation between them, creating a path of least resistance for heat transfer. In an otherwise insulated building, thermal bridges can account for up to 30 percent of energy loss. Using CI, the insulation doesn’t skip over studs or other obstructions in the wall cavity; it covers the entire surface. This results in:

  • Increased thermal performance
    By blocking thermal bridging, a continuous insulation system increases the overall thermal performance of a wall assembly and a building.

  • Reduced operating costs
    Continuous insulation keeps energy and heat loss to a minimum, increasing the building’s energy efficiency and leading to lower monthly operating costs.

  • Reduced air infiltration and exfiltration
    Continuous insulation with taped or sealed joints restricts air movement through the wall, helping to further reduce building heat loss.

The benefits of certain CI solutions go beyond enhanced energy efficiency. For example, polyiso insulation can serve as an air barrier, water resistant barrier, and water vapor control/retarder in wall assemblies. These capabilities provide the following additional benefits:

  • Reduced risk of water condensation and moisture intrusion
    Continuous insulation is a very moisture-resistant system, guarding the thermal and structural performance of the building.
  • Efficient installation
    When used as sheathing, continuous insulation can simplify the steps to construct a code-compliant wall assembly.
  • Dimensional Stability
    Polyiso insulation has excellent dimensional stability and meets ASTM C1289 Standard Specification for Faced Rigid Cellular Polyisocyanurate Thermal Insulation Board.

There are a multitude of building envelope product options, and a variety of design and construction methods used for achieving compliance with code requirements for the thermal envelope. To learn more about polyiso CI systems and their tried and true methods to meet these requirements refer to PIMA Technical Bulletin #403: “Continuous Insulation Using Polyiso Wall Sheathing” and this AIA CEU course which covers:

  • The different roles a product can play in the building envelope to simplify its design.
  • The code requirements for buildings classified as International Building Code Type I-IV Construction.
  • Strategies for achieving code compliance.
  • How polyiso can play multiple roles to meet or exceed these code requirements.
     

Tags:  insulation  polyiso  r-value  Type I-IV 

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Newest Shiloh House in Colorado Uses Polyiso Wall Boards for Superior Thermal and Weather Barrier

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 7, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2019

When Colorado architects from the Davis Partnership were designing a new building for the non-profit Shiloh House, they were thrilled to find a product that would protect the building envelope from exposure to fire, water, and wind while integrating a continuous insulation system that would provide long-term thermal efficiency. The polyiso wall insulation solution from Rmax gave them flexibility to use a variety of external claddings for visual interest without compromising on protection from the elements and energy savings. Even better, with the help of Rmax’s in-house architect and field team, they were able to design a wall system with smooth, on-time installation that meet the rigorous NFPA 285 requirements.

Shiloh House has five locations across Colorado that offer nurturing, therapeutic and educational services aimed to help youth and families to overcome the impact of abuse, neglect and trauma. They helped over 1,000 youth last year alone.

This new facility in Centennial is situated on a 1.54-acre property and includes on-site parking, outdoor courtyards, and the spaces and amenities that support the group’s programming to promote family stability and help families achieve their goals, while ensuring continued access to community resources once Shiloh House services have been successfully completed.

For an organization with such lofty goals, every dollar saved in building operations is another resource that can be used to serve its mission. The Rmax polyiso wall boards provide continuous insulation—eliminating heat lost that could occur through the studs when insulating with traditional products that are installed only in the wall cavities—and have reinforced aluminum foil facers that offer enhanced durability, dimensional stability and greater radiant heat protection. They make it easier and less expensive to keep the building comfortable, no matter the weather conditions outside.

“When we’re designing a building, we try to meet the highest standards because we care about protecting the environment and saving our client money over the whole life of their building by maximizing energy efficiency,” the architects explained. “With a reliable weather barrier and superior insulative properties, the polyiso continuous insulation system really gives your building the best protection while actually saving time and hassle on installation since it includes multiple protective layers in a single product.”

And the finished product speaks for itself:

Aerial views: www.rmax.com/aerial-videos

Project Gallery: www.rmax.com/shiloh-house-project-gallery

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Tags:  energy efficiency  insulation  NFPA 285  Polyiso  thermal efficiency  wall 

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Long Before Disaster Hits, Building Codes Can Provide Damage Protection

Posted By Justin Koscher, Friday, November 2, 2018
Aerial images of the Florida Panhandle in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael seem almost post-apocalyptic in their illustration of the widespread devastation wrought by the storm’s powerful wind, storm surge, and precipitation. Yet nestled amid the rubble and debris, a few anomalies appear – homes and structures that weathered the disastrous conditions with little apparent damage even as neighboring houses lay in ruin.

Media coverage of the storm included profiles of some of these structures. The New York Times described a home “built for the big one” and the Washington Post highlighted low cost reinforcements that saved other homes. A common theme was that all of these homes were built with conscious attention to building code standards that could increase resiliency to extreme weather.

While concrete walls and extra nails and fasteners might shine as methods to prevent damage, boosting survivability of buildings through construction standards is only part of the broader picture. A suite of building codes that minimizes structural damage can also provide savings in normal operational circumstances. Buildings that maximize insulation and vapor barriers save money every day through reduced energy usage. But when disaster strikes, they have the added ability to keep the temperature of interior spaces habitable when electricity is knocked out for extended periods after a storm.

Building codes are the minimum standards for structures designed to protect public health, safety, and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings. They comprise a collection of guidelines related to all of the interconnected parts of a building: the roofing systems, wall components, fire prevention, safety features, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. They are designed to work together and often upgrades in one area can create momentum to make a building more robust overall: better windows may require updated flashing or insulation that will help the building with general durability and also increase its resistance to major events.  

As climate change continues to impact the built environment, the building industry has been keen to refocus on what sustainability really means. While earlier efforts at “green building” might have been to incentivize adding bike racks, today’s resiliency work goes to the very purpose of building—to create structures that will protect occupants from the elements, function well over time, and perform efficiently even in adverse circumstances.

Acknowledging the value of improved building codes, FEMA is even offering pre-disaster mitigation funding to states and jurisdictions that will incentivize owners to upgrade existing buildings to new standards, a process that can be particularly cost-effective when other renovations are already taking place. Though added costs may seem daunting, studies have shown that for each dollar of added cost in bringing buildings up to higher standards, there is almost $6 in savings from damage prevented, not to mention reduced costs from improved energy performance throughout the life of the building. The upgrades literally pay for themselves over time.

While no building code can guarantee complete protection from hazardous weather and natural disasters, adopting higher standards does greatly increase the odds that a building will have minimized damage and a more habitable internal environment in the aftermath of a storm. Taking advantage of the building technologies and construction methods that meet the most progressive codes is a decision that will often pay for itself many times over.

Tags:  building codes  buildings  Disaster Preparedness  resiliency  Stafford Act 

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Chicago Area Cold Storage Facility Looks to Polyiso & TPO for a Massive 236,000 SF Roof Upgrade

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 29, 2018
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2018
When a 1979 Chicago area cold-storage warehouse needed a roof upgrade, Polyiso insulation was a critical component of the new roof system.

Owned by CenterPoint Properties, the largest owner/developer of industrial real estate in the greater Chicago area, the building required a roof system that replaced the15 year old 236,000-square-foot BUR roof system with efficiency and longevity in mind.

The old roofing system leaked, including at the drains and field seams. The roof had overlay work from several past repairs and an uneven surface with obsolete mechanical units, which were removed.

The building is located in Hodgkins, Ill., where the tenant, Fresh Logistics, consolidates daily rail shipments of produce from key agricultural areas in California and Washington for distribution. Along with the new roof, an efficient and consistent temperature-controlled facility was critical to Fresh Logistics daily operations.

After the existing roof was torn off, two staggered layers of 2” Polyiso insulation, was topped with 60-mil energy efficient TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) membrane. This system allowed the contractor to use 70 percent fewer seams than the previous roof.

The roof system offers a cost-effective solution that provides a flat, clean, energy efficient roofing solution. Since the building has a temperature-controlled environment, the reflectivity of the 60-mil TPO keeps the building cooler and the four inches of insulation provide the proper R-value.

The roof was installed by Northcross Roofing and Waterproofing, Inc.

You can read more about this project here.

Tags:  Efficiency  insulation  Polyiso  roofing 

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Congress Turns to Building Codes for Disaster Preparedness

Posted By Justin Koscher, Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2018
On two occasions this year, Congress enacted reforms for disaster preparedness that raise the profile and importance of building codes for purposes of planning and recovery. The nation’s disaster relief law – the Stafford Act – was first reformed as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act and later reformed with permanent fixes under the FAA Reauthorization bill passed in October 2018.

Under these amendments, building code adoption and enforcement are added as eligible activities and criteria used in grant programs aimed at reducing the impact of future disasters. In other words, states that act to adopt modern building codes and standards will be eligible for additional federal assistance in the event a disaster strikes. Moreover, the reforms allow damaged buildings to be rebuilt with federal support to better withstand future events, rather than merely restored to their pre-disaster condition.

These changes do not specifically address adoption and enforcement of energy codes. However, we expect that by encouraging the adoption and regular updating of the building codes that the energy code will also be positively affected.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the first six months of 2018 resulted in six weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each. Moody’s Analytics estimates that losses resulting from Hurricane Florence will cost between $38 billion and $50 billion. Damage to homes and business can contribute significantly to the total impact of a disaster.

Construction built to meet or exceed modern building codes can therefore play an important role in reducing the overall economic impact of natural disasters. According to the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report published by the National Institute of Building Sciences, the model building codes developed by the International Code Council can save the nation $4 for every $1 spent.

Energy efficiency is a key part of a building’s – and a community’s – ability to withstand and quickly restore normalcy after a disaster. For example, a well-insulated building can comfort occupants when power is limited or cutoff. Building energy codes will also encourage the construction of more robust building envelope systems that can help avoid the crippling effects of moisture intrusion that is common in severe weather events.

The recognition by Congress that modern building codes deliver an answer to disaster preparedness is a positive for homeowners and businesses across the country. States now have the added incentive to prepare for tomorrow by enacting and enforcing better building codes today.

Tags:  building codes  Congress  Disaster Preparedness  Efficiency  energy codes  NOAA  resiliency  Stafford Act 

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The Far-Reaching Impact of the Insulation Industry

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Monday, September 10, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2018

Insulation can be found in buildings, refrigeration and a multitude of other end use products, and is used for floatation and transportation.

From an environmental standpoint, when insulation products such as Polyiso are used in building and construction, the purpose of the insulation is to stop the flow of air (hot or cold) through the exterior walls and roofs of a building. Reducing the air transfer reduces the amount of energy required to regulate a building’s heating and cooling system. As a result, the insulation has a direct impact on the cost and use of energy to run that building.

Beyond its sustainability and environmental attributes, a new report, “The Contributions Insulation to the U.S. Economy in 2017,” produced by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), shows that the insulation industry contributes significantly to the U.S. economy. In fact, the industry generates more than 500,000 jobs and $30 billion a year in payrolls.

“This report makes clear that the business of manufacturing, distributing and installing insulation generates significant economic output and creates jobs across the country,” says Martha Gilchrist Moore, senior director of policy analysis and economics at ACC and author of the report. The impact is significant and key findings about the insulation industry’s contributions to the U.S. economy are detailed in the infographic below.

For extended details on the economic contributions, insulation industry segments, and more view the full study here.

Tags:  buildings  insulation  jobs  manufacturing  payroll  tax revenue 

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Insulation Manufacturing Facts

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Monday, September 10, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2018

The report, “The Contributions of Insulation to the U.S. Economy in 2017,” produced by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) shows that the insulation manufacturing sector contributes significantly to the U.S. economy as illustrated in the infographic below.

As a key segment of the insulation manufacturing industry, PIMA is proud of our members who manufacture polyisocyanurate insulation in more than 30 U.S. plants located in 16 states.

To learn more about the manufacturing aspects of the insulation industry, view the full study here.

Tags:  insulation  jobs  manufacturing 

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National Insulation Fly-In Day a Success

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Thursday, May 31, 2018

More than 130 insulation industry professionals recently gathered in Washington, DC for the second-annual Insulation Industry National Policy Forum. They met with 82 Congressional offices and Members of Congress – including Senator Rob Portman (Ohio) who has introduced a bill that would strengthen the nation’s commitment to energy efficiency – S. 385 The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. In addition, leaders from the Department of Energy, White House and U.S. Congress addressed the industry – including Representative Adam Kinzinger (IL), a leader on energy efficiency issues in Congress.  This year’s event included nearly 50 percent more attendees when compared to 2017 attendance numbers.

PIMA was a lead organizer of the fly-in event and some of the key points the association and it members made to lawmakers included:

  • The insulation industry employs more than 529,000 people and creates over $30 billion in annual payrolls.
  • The insulation manufacturing sector employs 37,000 Americans in 42 states with the largest number of manufacturing jobs located in Ohio.
  • Building energy codes – a driver for the use of insulation – are projected to save the US economy $126 billion in energy cost savings between 2010 and 2040.
  • Federal investments to resilient buildings provides a positive ROI for taxpayer dollars – a recent study demonstrates that exceeding the 2015 International Building Codes can save the nation $4 for every $1 spent. The insulation industry produces technology that contributes toward the value of these mitigation efforts.

The fly-in, and events like it, provide opportunities to ensure elected officials hear from and understand the importance of both the roofing and insulation industries to the overall U.S. economy. During our meetings on Capitol Hill with key lawmakers we also discussed workforce issues, funding for Department of Energy programs that support building energy efficiency, and buildings as key components of a resilient national infrastructure.

To view images from the fly-in, click here!

Tags:  Adam Kinzinger  building codes  buildings  Congress  Efficiency  energy codes  energy efficiency  fire performance  insulation  jobs  manufacturing  Polyiso 

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