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A World Cup of Energy Efficiency

Posted By Jared Blum, Monday, June 30, 2014

Fans in the United States are quickly warming up to the sport of soccer because it’s hard to ignore the thrill of international competition that comes around every four years during the FIFA World Cup. Like soccer, or football as its known around the world, energy efficiency can benefit from competition.

Individual states and municipalities typically create their own energy and building codes that are based on model codes produced by organizations such as the International Code Council (ICC). Consumers can then compare these states to see how much of an impact codes have on overall energy savings from state to state.  The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy conducts an annual survey to determine which state is the most energy efficient. In 2013, states like Massachusetts, New York, California, and Oregon were at the top of the chart for energy savings.

This competition, like the World Cup, provides an incentive for states to improve their code environment and increase energy efficiency. Having the reputation of being an energy efficient state can attract new business while helping to foster a healthy economy along with a healthy environment.

Due its immense popularity worldwide, many analysts believe soccer has the potential to become the next big sport in the United States. Energy efficiency shares that potential and is often described as the “low hanging fruit” of the energy sector. With increased concerns of climate change and new rules on carbon emissions from the EPA, I know we are on the cusp of a breakthrough in improving the efficiency of our buildings in all sectors of the economy. 

The United States hasn’t been known for its success on the soccer pitch, but we have the potential to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions and creating a better world for future generations of World Cup fans.  

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Recession Recovery and Climate Change – The Link

Posted By Jared Blum, Friday, June 13, 2014

Despite a significant rebound from 2007-2011 recessions which hammered construction industry employment, many people are still struggling to find work. With the threat of climate change on the horizon, our economy is bound to be in for some major changes in the near future. These two issues are inextricably tied together.

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) recently introduced the ‘‘Energy-Efficient Cool Roofs Jobs Act," (S. 2388.) The legislation seeks to spur job creation in the construction segment while also improving the efficiency of our buildings.  The bill is estimated to incentivize the creation of nearly 40,000 jobs.

Besides the obvious direct economic benefit of job creation and cost savings for consumers, the bill is vital to the fight against climate change. Renewable energy technologies often get the top billing in discussions about reducing carbon emissions. While they are certainly central to this goal, energy efficiency is of equal or, arguably, greater importance. Estimates show that this legislation has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 800,000 metric tons annually.  This reduction is not achieved by radically changing the nation’s energy infrastructure, but simply by ensuring that buildings are held to the best standards and built using the best materials on the market today, such as  polyiso.

Although the Sheehan-Portman bill has been repeatedly stalled in the Senate, Senator Cardin’s energy efficiency legislation has the potential to break the gridlock in Washington.  In fact, this legislation was co sponsored by Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) while a companion bill has been introduced in the House by Tom Reed (R-NY) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ).Speaking about the bill, Senator Cardin said “we don’t need to choose between good jobs and helping the environment – we can do both with the same policy.” I couldn’t agree more. 

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Polyiso Goes the Extra Mile for the Solar Decathlon

Posted By Jared Blum, Thursday, May 29, 2014

Every two years, teams of students representing universities from around the world gather for a competition to build the energy-independent solar houses.  The competition, known as the Solar Decathlon, started in the United States and now includes a separate European contest.  

Students from Appalachian State University were selected as one of three teams from the United States to participate in the 2014 European Solar Decathlon.  The team from Appalachian State has joined forces with the French Université d’Angers in this endeavor and calls the joint project Maison Réciprocité.

The team is using polyiso as its insulation material of choice citing its superior thermal performance. The house will have 4 inches of polyiso as continuous insulation in the walls, allowing the long row house to have plenty of natural daylight without sacrificing thermal performance.  The house will be built almost entirely in the United States, flat packed, shipped across the Atlantic to Versailles, France, and rebuilt on site for the competition.

Belief in climate change is becoming more main stream every day with the debate shifting from if climate change is happening, to when it will happen and what kinds of impacts it will have.  PIMA and the polyiso industry understand that net zero energy buildings are the future of the built environment.  Combating climate change will require a number of different strategies including an increased reliance on renewable energy and a commitment to energy efficient buildings. Of these strategies, implementing energy efficient building practices has the some of the most direct and cost effective impact.

The research happening at universities around the country like Appalachian State is vital to the fight against climate change.  Competitions such as the Solar Decathlon serve as laboratories of innovation that lead to beneficial discoveries in the field of building technology.  These projects demonstrate that innovative building techniques are not just for environmentalists with boutique architectural plans, but can help the average home owner save money. PIMA is proud to sponsor this important research, and wishes team Maison Réciprocité all the best as they compete at the 2014 European Solar Decathlon.  For more information about the project, visit the website at: http://reciprocity2014.com

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The Need to Address the Lack of Consensus Procedures in Developing LEED

Posted By Jared Blum, Friday, April 18, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Editors Note: This work originally appeared in Retrofit Magazine.

The work being done by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and its flagship LEED program has done a great deal to promote green construction and bring concern for high-performance buildings to the mainstream. As a long-time energy-efficiency advocate and supporter of the work of the USGBC, I believe, however, it is important to recognize flaws in the process as epitomized in LEED v4 and work to address them.

Those of us in the high-performance building sector understand that developing new standards and guidelines requires a consensus and deliberative process. Members of the American High Performance Building Coalition, to which PIMA belongs, manufacture products that greatly contribute to the green-building environment.

Unfortunately, these manufacturers are often left out of the conversations concerning updates to LEED, while a only a small percentage of advisors to the LEED process have actual building-products-manufacturing experience. Foam insulation, for example, has been shown to save more than 233 times its embedded energy over the life span of the product. Earlier versions of LEED v4 would have discriminated against all foam insulation and a great number of sustainable roofing products. This oversight was only changed when USGBC could not ignore the tsunami of opposition from those who understood the impact of this well-intended proposal.

These controversies reached a breaking point recently when the Ohio State Senate passed Ohio Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 (SCR 25), which asserts that LEED v4 should no longer be used by Ohio state agencies and government entities. Instead, Ohio is looking at other rating systems, such as Green Globes, that take a more consensus-based approach. The legislation has also been introduced in the Ohio State House of Representatives.

This is not the first time LEED has come under fire by a government body. In October 2013, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) issued a memo stating that federal government agencies can now use either LEED or Green Globes for rating federal buildings. With many government agencies holding vast building portfolios and operating with tax dollars, it is imperative that they look critically at any rating system to ensure they are producing the most value with public funds.

In fact, the EPA is currently seeking comment for its Draft Guidelines for Ecolabels and Performance Standards, which emphasize the use of ANSI/ASTM consensus procedures to develop green product standards. This is important given the industry’s frustrating experience so far with the lack of true consensus in the development of recent green standards, such as LEED v4.

The LEED program has evolved to be the dominant rating system for buildings in the public and private sectors. The commitment to one green rating system, however, has produced some unintended consequences, such as pigeonholing certain products as “not green”. All observers can admit that competition in the codes and standards sector is beneficial; consider the ICC and ASHRAE as an example. Stakeholders will benefit by working together to produce a system that promotes innovation, and through competition, allows the best products to be used in buildings.

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Recent Events Prove that Flame Retardants Save Lives

Posted By Alex Wellman, Thursday, August 15, 2013

Research continues to make clear that flame retardant materials can help people survive fires in planes, cars, homes and offices. 

This issue was brought to the forefront this week when flame retardants provided critical extra time for passengers aboard the Asiana flight that crash landed in San Francisco, CA. Citing information from an article in The Wall St. Journal, the Huffington Post credited the plane’s flame retardant materials as being one of three innovations on the plane "that saved lives." In other words, the awful tragedy could have been even worse.


It was California that first implemented progressive flammability standards for upholstered furniture in the 1970s, which dramatically improved upon the percentage of fires and fire-related deaths related to upholstered furniture. Today, consumers receive a critical layer of fire protection from flame retardants in electronics, building and construction materials, furnishings and transportation.

Existing building code fire safety provisions were established by experts in the field, including fire scientists, fire testing laboratories, code officials and others. But some are proposing detrimental changes to these building code fire safety provisions. The changes would allow foam insulation not treated with flame retardants to be used in residential construction, which would eliminate an important layer of fire safety in homes, according to the American Chemistry Council.

Chemistry has and will continue to play a critical role in evolving GREEN building technologies. We understand that chemistry materials are complex and raise questions, which is why we will be part of the dialogue with groups like the US Green Building Council that help shape green building standards. An open, balanced consensus-standard will deliver the most energy-efficient, resource-efficient and healthy buildings.

 

Jared O. Blum is president and chief executive officer of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association.

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Washington Post Op-Ed: Stakeholders Must Be Part of LEED Updates

Posted By Alex Wellman, Friday, August 9, 2013

The Washington Post published an op-ed on Sunday that reiterates our position on updates to LEED: experts in their field must be part of the process for improving LEED if the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) wants the rating system to remain credible and effective for the long term.

The commentary was written by Craig Silvertooth, president of the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing and a member of the American High Performance Buildings Coalition, in response to the most recent update to LEED, which was approved by the USGBC on July 2. That approval came despite many stakeholders’ concerns, which the USGBC did not finish reviewing, responding to or resolving.

Members of the American High Performance Buildings Coalition produce some of the most innovative and effective products and materials available to the green building movement. As the op-ed points out, these products include reflective roofing, windows with engineered frames and glazing, air- and water-resistant building wraps, and foam insulation, which studies have shown saves more than 233 times its embedded energy during its useful life span.

Many of the people behind these innovations, however, have been excluded from the process of improving LEED standards. Overlooking these stakeholders, who invest billions in research and development to maintain their technical expertise in building science and materials, makes the new LEED system - at best - unbalanced. 

The USGBC has established LEED as the dominant green building rating system for both the private and public sectors, and the federal government has come to rely on LEED for schools and all new construction. It is therefore critical that stakeholders in the green building movement be part of the development and methodology used to certify a building as LEED.

 

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Welcome to PIMA's Polyiso Blog

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 30, 2012
For over 25 years, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) has served as the unified voice of the rigid polyiso industry proactively advocating for safe, cost-effective, sustainable and energy efficient construction. Here you can find our thoughts on energy efficiency, policy initiatives, codes and much more. Thank you for visiting our blog, Jared Blum, President, Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association.

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PIMA Joins American High-Performance Buildings Coalition

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 30, 2012

PIMA has joined more than 27 leading associations representing a wide range of interests in the building and construction industry to announce the formation of the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition (AHPBC) (www.betterbuildingstandards.com). We have come together to promote and support the development of sustainable building standards, which are based on consensus and scientific performance data.

This is another positive step on the road to making green construction not an exception but rather standard operating procedure for the construction, design and building maintenance communities in this country.

As building product manufacturers, our members understand their responsibility to work with the design community to achieve truly energy efficient high performing, 21st century buildings The coalition will provide critical experience and expertise to the development of green building standards, and will support performance-based building codes, standards and rating systems developed in conformance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the established voice of the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system. ANSI-accredited systems recognize transparency, balance of interests represented and consensus decision-making.

The coalition announcement comes as the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is in the process of reviewing the use of green building standards by the federal government and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) revises its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system.

While PIMA has always been a strong supporter of LEED, but recent deselection proposals included in early versions of LEED 2012 would be counter productive and actually harm this country’s energy efficiency and heat island reduction efforts. The AHPBC supports certification systems based on sound data, scientific methodology and developed using a consensus process. The coalition will advocate that position with GSA, other federal agencies and in other venues where green building certifications are under consideration.

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25 Year of Energy Efficiency – No Small Accomplishment!

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 30, 2012

In conjunction with the Association’s 25thanniversary, we recently released a study that analyzes and quantifies the energy and environmental contribution of polyisocyanurate insulation (polyiso) over the past 25 years. This study reveals that polyiso has contributed to the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by over 4 million metric tons annually, an amount equivalent to:

  • Taking 711,000 cars off of the road
  • The CO2 emissions from 407 million gallons of gasoline or
  • The energy used in more than 314,000 homes each year.

The study further reveals that, over the service life of polyiso insulation, the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions reduction would be in excess of 80 million metric tons. Additionally, the cumulative savings in building heating and cooling energy over a typical twenty-year roof system service life would be in excess of 14,000 trillion BTUs.

The bottom line is that polyiso insulation has had, and will continue to have, a very positive impact on energy efficiency and the environment.

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PIMA Testifies Before GSA’s Green Building Advisory Committee

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 11, 2012

PIMA Testifies Before GSA's Green Building Advisory Committee
Longtime energy efficiency supporter voices concerns about LEED 2012

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2012 – A member of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) Board of Directors testified today at GSA's Green Building Advisory Committee Public Meeting and voiced serious concerns about some of the proposals dealing with material avoidance in LEED 2012 that fly in the face of building science.

PIMA Board Member and the Codes and Standards Advocate for Bayer MaterialScience Jerry Phelan, questioned whether or not GSA should be recommending green building rating systems that fail to meet true consensus requirements, as directed by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The Association's testimony offered support of Green Globes as an alternative to LEED but voiced concern over the addition of the Living Building Challenge and the proposed LEED 2012. In addition, the Association recommended several additional LEED alternatives, including ASHRAE 189.1: Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings and the IgCC – International Green Construction Code.

"The vetting and implementation of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) falls well short of the benchmarks established by either LEED or Green Globes, with authorship confined to a very small number of individuals and a failure to include many important stakeholders in the process,” said Phelan. "The LBC embraces an unnecessarily exclusionary approach which has demonstrated little or no market acceptance, with only three buildings achieving full LBC certification in the United States.”

PIMA also addressed the "Red Lists” of the Living Building Challenge, which feature materials or products to avoid when building with energy efficiency in mind. The list prohibits the use of broad categories of materials, like halogenated flame retardants. This "Red List” approach, PIMA argued, undermines the long-term value of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

"Life Cycle Assessment is considered by building and environmental scientists to be the best approach to assessing environmental impacts,” noted Phelan. "LCA holistically looks at the advantages and disadvantages inherent in all building material choices, but the exclusionary approach advocated by the LBC eliminates reasonable options before they can be evaluated and considered, which reduces flexibility and innovation in building systems.”

The Living Building Challenge "Red List” includes modern building materials currently considered by building professionals to deliver critical performance and environmental benefits. In fact, the list includes materials that are widely used and, in some cases, have been used for many decades in building and construction and other applications.

"PIMA has been dedicated to energy efficiency and sustainability for 25 years, and we are concerned about the impacts of some of these new proposed guidelines,” said Jared Blum, President of PIMA. "While PIMA is excited that the GSA is looking at ways to increase energy efficiency and lessen environmental impact, we want to ensure that the approach to achieve these goals is sound and fair, and will have an overall positive influence.”

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