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Insulation Fly-In: Building Relationships for Better Buildings

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Thursday, May 30, 2019
Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2019

In this age of instant connectivity, virtual encounters allow communication and cooperation with unprecedented speed and ease. But there’s something about a face-to-face meeting that really helps people reach common ground. In May, 110 contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers from the insulation industry representing the majority of states met on Capitol Hill with lawmakers to discuss issues and ideas for harnessing the resources of the insulation industry to tackle some of our country’s most pressing problems. And they were serious about building those face-to-face relationships—and packed in 101 meetings on Capitol Hill, 23 of them with members of Congress.

With the constant stream of news stories highlighting the human costs and economic consequences of a changing environment, momentum is growing behind solutions that can address these environmental challenges in ways that strengthen U.S. economic productivity and competitiveness. To that end, PIMA members are working to build enthusiasm for federal action on policies that optimize the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings. Raising standards for new residential, commercial, and industrial buildings and retrofitting older ones can lead to long-term savings through better building performance.

Increasing the energy efficiency of our buildings is a practical way to help the environment, create jobs, and save money. Boosting energy efficiency alone can provide 40% of the necessary greenhouse gas emissions reductions to meet global targets and the work to implement these standards will lead to jobs in manufacturing, distribution, and installation. These improvements will save consumers billions of dollars in energy costs annually – money that can be invested back into the U.S. economy.

But these policies would do more than save energy; they’d also provide buildings and the people who use them with added protection from severe weather events. In 2017 alone, there were $317 billion in losses from US natural disasters, jump-starting discussions on creating more resilient buildings and communities. Optimizing insulation for an energy efficient building envelope improves performance post-disaster or during prolonged events like heat waves or extreme cold. And the investment would pay off – it’s estimated that designing buildings to the 2018 I-Codes would deliver a national benefit of $11 for every $1 invested.  

Some legislative tools to promote these improvements include:

  • Strengthening oversight of new rules for disaster preparedness and response.
  • Supporting investments in building science research.
  • Recognizing buildings as infrastructure, including critical structures such as hospitals and schools.

Improving the energy efficiency and resilience of our built environment is a proactive approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while boosting economic growth, improving energy security, and advancing U.S. global competitiveness. PIMA members are working together to promote policies that support these goals through events like Insulation Industry National Policy Conference.

For a deeper dive into the policy topics that were highlighted during the industry fly-in, please download the policy briefs:

Tags:  Congress  Efficiency  energy efficiency  insulation  jobs  manufacturing  Polyiso  resiliency  roofing 

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Justin Koscher on 2019 National Energy Codes Conference Panel

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 2, 2019
Updated: Thursday, May 2, 2019

The 2019 National Energy Codes Conference is being held in Denver, May 29 and 30, 2019. This year it will feature an engaging set of topics, educational sessions, and networking opportunities.

PIMA President Justin Koscher will be a panelist on the Building Resilience: A Community Perspective on Energy Codes panel. He will be joined by:

  • Cammy Peterson – Director of Clean Energy, Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)
  • Amy Schmidt – Advocacy Manager, DowDuPont
  • Brad Smith – Energy Code Compliance Specialist, City of Fort Collins, CO
  • John Balfe (moderator) – Senior Buildings and Communities Solutions Associate, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP)

On Thursday, May 30 from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm, Justin and his fellow panelists will discuss:
Resiliency, safety, and savings – these terms appeal to community leaders and are important co-benefits of advanced energy codes. But how do communities realize these benefits? Policies, resources, and innovative strategies have been developed to harmonize energy efficiency and resiliency to make for a more well-equipped community building stock in the face of both manmade and natural disasters. Join this session to understand why energy codes are life safety codes.

If you are interested in attending this DOE event there is still time to sign up here.
Conference Dates: May 29 -30, 2019
Location: Denver, Colorado – Hilton Denver City Center

Tags:  energy codes  energy efficiency  resiliency  roofing 

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Agropur Dairy Cooperative

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 2019
In 2016, the dairy cooperative Agropur opened a new, two-story office building in Longueuil, Québec that went on to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the Canada Green Building Council in 2017. The ambitious project allowed Agropur to consolidate four existing offices into a single, unified 23,226-m2 (250,000 square foot) campus in a tranquil wooded environment adjacent to its existing distribution center and quality assurance labs.

The new campus offers a state-of-the-art office environment, underground parking for 700 cars, with carefully designed amenity areas, including a cafeteria, gymnasiums, and relaxation and conference rooms. Conceived as a series of narrow wings, the building layout takes advantage of plentiful windows to bring in natural light and continuous views of the surrounding forest.

The building was designed by Le Groupe Architex and the roof was installed by Truchon Roofing. Since the exterior of Agropur’s building is glass, care was taken in the plans to facilitate efficient regular window washing. The roof needed solid bases to protect it from the heavy equipment and accompanying workers who would launch from the roof.

The architect chose SOPREMA high-density polyiso cover boards to ensure that roof materials installed below the cover board would not be damaged by the additional loads and traffic. Unlike other types of cover board, the high-density polyiso cover boards also added thermal resistance, contributing to improved energy efficiency.

“The architect was looking for something solid and durable under the SBS-modified bitumen that would keep the lower roof materials from being damaged by the extra loads.” said Sylvain Dion, Architectural Sales representative at SOPREMA. “They had been considering the cement board, but when they learned more about the durability and added thermal value of the high-density polyiso cover board, they selected it for the roof.”

Commercial low-slope roof systems are expected to perform throughout the entire service life of a building, so understanding and utilizing products to help enhance the roof’s performance and longevity is essential for good roof design. With proper installation, HD polyiso cover boards are versatile and resilient low-slope roof system solutions. Whether it is exposed to severe weather or maintenance personnel servicing rooftop equipment or window washing, choosing a long-lasting roof system means satisfied building owners.

More information can be found here.

Tags:  buildings  LEED  Polyiso  resiliency 

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Roofing Day

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 11, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2019

On April 4, 2019, as spring unfolded in Washington, D.C. with the arrival of the cherry blossoms, PIMA and a sea of more than 400 roofing industry professionals descended on Capitol Hill for meetings with Congressional representatives to discuss issues of importance to the entire roofing industry. PIMA and its member companies were there to advocate in support of three key issues:

  • A robust buildings component for infrastructure legislation.
  • Immigration reform that meets the roofing industry's workforce needs.
  • Expanded workforce training incentives.
There is strength in numbers and Roofing Day is an opportunity for the entire roofing industry to speak with one unified voice. Groups of roofing contractors, front-line workers, state and regional roofing associations, roofing manufacturers, distributors, and design and roof-consulting professionals participated in close to 300 Congressional meetings. Roofing Day 2019 had an increased participation of 5 percent compared to Roofing Day 2018.

Visiting Capitol Hill with hundreds of roofing industry professionals was powerful as were the connections that were made. Equally as powerful and valuable - the connections made among the attendees. For more information on Roofing Day, visit www.nrca.net/roofingday. And mark your calendars for Roofing Day 2020 – April 21-22, 2020!

Tags:  construction  insulation  jobs  Polyiso  resiliency  roofing 

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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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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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