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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) ( 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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Funding for Department of Energy Programs

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 11, 2012

Did you know that the buildings sector is responsible for more than 39 percent of the total U.S. energy consumption, 71 percent of electricity consumption, and 53 percent of natural gas consumption? Those are some significant statistics! And these statistics are also the reason why PIMA is strongly in support of higher standards for building energy codes – which are the most effective tool for reducing energy use in buildings – and several U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) programs.

Keeping this in mind, it's no surprise that PIMA was interested in the House Appropriations Committee release of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2013. Why? Because this bill covers funding for all DOE programs, and there are two programs that are of particular interest to PIMA – and to building contractors, specifiers and architects nationwide. These two programs are:

  1. Building Technologies Program
  2. Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)

Both of these programs are related to building energy codes and building energy-efficiency. Given the statistics above, imagine the impact that higher standards for building codes and efficiency could have on our nation's overall energy consumption. These two programs are well worth the required funding of $310 million and $32 million, respectively.

Consider this: the federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, spending more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008 alone. A strong Federal Energy Management Program assures that the federal government can continue to shrink this large cost to the nation.

By meeting the funding requests for these programs, state and local governments will continue to have access to activities that strengthen their abilities to choose the best options for code adoption and administration. These activities include:

  • The development and deployment code compliance tools, like REScheck and COMcheck
  • Providing technical assistance to states and local governments for the adoption and implementation of building energy codes
    • Analysis and support for improving the IECC and ASHRAE 90.1 model building energy codes;
    • Technical support and evaluations by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other national labs in code development and adoption activities; and
    • Training for architects, engineers, builders and local code officials.

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JCPenney Teams Up With DOE to Increase Energy Efficiency in VA Store

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 11, 2012

JCPenney recently participated in the U.S. Department of Energy's Commercial Building Partnerships(CBP), an initiative that is transforming the country's energy landscape by demonstrating the best ways to achieve dramatic energy savings in commercial buildings. This CBP initiative partners programs, companies and organizations with DOE representatives, national laboratory staff and private-sector technical experts to explore energy saving ideas and strategies.

JCPenney worked with the Pacific Northwest Laboratory to identify energy efficiency design measures that could be applied to store locations across the country. One of the first stores to receive these upgrades was an existing building already in need of some major renovations – a one-story, 107,000 square foot building in Colonial Heights, VA.

The design team on the project took an integrated approach to maximize energy savings. For the building envelope, the team chose to use polyisocyanurate insulation during roof replacement. The benefits from using this insulation were significant enough that JCPenney will now consider adding additional insulation to future reroofing projects at all locations. Energy savings from the total package are expected to be 45% as compared to the store's energy use in the past.

This case study underscores the energy saving potential of polyiso insulation and, here at PIMA, we are excited that the design team chose to use polyiso insulation and even more excited that JCPenney has seen significant benefits since its implementation.

To learn more about the project, take a look at the ASHRAE website.

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Posted By Administration, Friday, May 11, 2012

At the end of September, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) announced The Energy-Efficient Cool Roof Jobs Act, a bill projected to create up to 40,000 jobs nationwide, aid the construction industry and increase energy-efficiency.

In addition to creating thousands of jobs, the bill is expected to add $1 billion of taxable annual revenue in the construction sector and annually reduce carbon emissions by 800,000 metric tons. The bill will also provide economic incentives to speed up the adoption of energy-efficient roofs by removing obstacles in the tax code that hinder roof upgrades.

This is exactly the kind of legislation our country needs. Legislation that creates jobs, improves energy efficiency and lowers operating costs. As a supporting organization of the bill, PIMA believes this is the type of economic stimulus effort that has the potential to pay off in many ways.

The act reduces the depreciation schedule for commercial roof retrofits, lowering the current 39-year depreciation in the tax code to a 20-year depreciation schedule for energy-efficient cool roof systems. To qualify, roofs must include systems with insulation that meets or exceeds ASHRAE 189.1-2009 standards and primary cool roof surfaces in climate zones one through five.

A significant opportunity to increase building energy efficiency lies within the commercial roofing sector, where over 50 billion square feet of flat roofs are currently available for retrofit, four billion of which are retrofit each year. If the insulation levels in these commercial roofs are upgraded from their current R-value to the high performance levels embodied in a High R Roof – 50% above the minimum required values – annual energy savings would exceed $2 billion.

Co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), the bipartisan bill has the support of PIMA, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Associated Buildings & Contractors (ABC), Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA), Environmental and Energy Study Institute, United Union of Roofers and several construction industry associations.

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Label Those Buildings!

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 11, 2012

Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Energy sponsored a webinar on their proposed voluntary national energy performance standard for commercial buildings. The goal of the Commercial Building Asset Rating Program (CBAR) is to assist the nation's building owners and managers in developing plans to improve commercial building energy efficiency. This would include evaluation of building envelope and major energy using equipment.

A voluntary program is an essential first step to eventually requiring energy ratings for all homes and other buildings. Unless we take this step, we are condemning all our existing building stock to underperforming in energy usage, thereby negatively impacting the country's economic and environmental performance.

While first adopted by Denmark and Australia, mandatory building energy ratings are an important part of an existing efficiency program throughout the European Union. This "time of sale” requirement insures that a buyer will be able to give preference to an energy efficient building. Many states and localities (Washington State, California, Massachusetts, Seattle and New York, have enacted laws) are actively considering adoption of similar requirements.

One might ask with LEED and Energy Star programs, is another rating system necessary? While it is unclear how this final CBAR program turns out, its premise goes beyond LEED, which focuses on sustainability, and Energy Star, which does not really rank building performance other to tell you if it is the top 25% of similarly located buildings.

It is time to label the energy performance of buildings. We do require performance labels for cars and appliances, so why not for these users of over forty percent of the nation's energy?

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On Hottest Day of Summer, Congress Catches Up on Cool Roofs

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 11, 2012

At the end of July, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing for Congress on solar-reflective roofs and other cool-roofing techniques including insulation. As heat waves swept the country, the seminar provided some relief for those dreading the warmth of future summers and seeking refuge next to the closest air-conditioner.
Led by a distinguished panel of experts, the briefing addressed the huge potential for roofs to lower the surface temperature of buildings and entire cities.

Speakers at the briefing included Arthur Rosenfeld, a Scientist Emeritus of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, James L. Hoff, Research Director for the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, Laurie Kerr, Senior Policy Advisor on Buildings and Energy in the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability in New York City, and Kevin Kampschroer, Director of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings in the U.S. General Services Administration.

I think it is ironic – or perhaps excellent timing – that on what was one of the hottest days ever in Washington, EESI brought together such an esteemed panel of experts to inform Congress on ways that the roof can provide viable energy efficiency solutions. The panel reiterated that solutions truly are available today and that insulation and whitening roofs as part of an efficient cool roofing system.

Cool roofs provide several benefits, including:
• Lower surface temperatures for buildings
• Lower surface temperatures for entire cities
• Reduced amount of energy usage
• Reduced energy costs
• Improvements in air quality
• Improvements in air quality
• Offsetting carbon emissions

In Texas the average daily high temperature for July was 101.7 degrees. It is definitely time for some very well insulated cool roofs.

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