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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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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

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  energy efficiency  insulation  NFPA 285  Polyiso  thermal efficiency  wall 

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Understanding NFPA 285: Harmonizing Fire Performance and Energy Efficiency in Exterior Wall Assemblies

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Commercial building codes have been modified to require the construction of more energy-efficient buildings. Improvements to the building envelope, using continuous insulation solutions incorporating polyisocyanurate (or Polyiso) insulation, have played a major role in mainstreaming high-performance construction practices. To meet the demands of today’s buildings, architectural and design professionals must balance energy efficiency with whole building performance considerations, including fire safety. All construction materials, including foam plastics materials such as polyiso insulation, must provide a suitable margin of fire safety. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285 fire test is a large-scale wall assembly test used to determine the potential for flame spread from one story of a building to another through the exterior wall. With respect to wall assemblies in Type I-IV Construction, understanding and properly implementing NFPA 285 is a critical component for designing a compliant, high-performance building envelope.  

To learn more about NFPA 285, check out this free webinar which can help you:
1.    Understand the development history of the NFPA 285 standard fire test procedure for exterior wall assemblies containing combustible materials.
2.    Identify the NFPA 285 related requirements in the 2012 and 2015 editions of the International Building Code.
3.    Explain how engineering analysis of NFPA 285 test assemblies may be used to specify alternative materials.  
4.    Determine how Polyiso insulation can be used as an integral component of NFPA 285 tested and compliant wall assemblies.

Tags:  building codes  buildings  energy efficiency  insulation  NFPA 285  Polyiso  Type I-IV  walls 

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