Groundbreaking Spray Foam Technology is Changing the Way We Build

Written by Maxime Duzyk at Huntsman Building Solutions.

Today’s building projects are facing high levels of scrutiny when it comes to the products being used in their design and construction, and their impact on the environment.  Architects, engineers, builders, and contractors understand that climate change cannot be ignored and are sourcing new technology innovations and materials that are sustainable and environmentally friendly, that are resilient to extreme weather, that are long lasting and that provide work process efficiency and cost savings for workers and building owners.

When you consider that building materials and construction and building operations account for almost 40 per cent of global annual greenhouse gas emissions, it becomes crystal clear that the industry needs to build with better materials that reduce these figures.  Notably, embodied carbon emissions from building materials and construction represent 10 per cent of global carbon emissions and building operations account for 28 per cent.

Improve Building Envelope Performance with Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

A significant barometer for improving building quality and performance is EPD.  For example, when considering sustainable building envelopes, there are global leaders out there that offer high performance spray foam product solutions that stand on strong EDP commitments.  Huntsman Building Solutions’ popular HEATLOK Soya HFO closed cell spray foam system is an innovation that derives from those sustainable development goals in terms of environmental impact.

In fact, the independent, third-party document, completed by Sphera and certified by UL, provides objective and comparable information about the lifecycle impacts and emissions of this spray foam product.  It leverages the 4th generation blowing agent.

This hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) product is the first and only spray foam system with a product-specific, Type III EPD which is independently completed and verified.  The objective assessment delivered through this EPD is the key to ensuring an informed choice in the specification of sustainable insulation. 

Completed in accordance with strict ISO standards, including ISO 14044, ISO 14040, ISO 14025, ISO 21930, and EN 15804, the new EPD is based on the spray foam system’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which evaluates the products’ impacts in six key Environmental Impact Categories, one of which is Global Warming Potential, or GWP. As demonstrated by the EPD, HEATLOK Soya HFO GWP performance comparative to other insulation options is: 39 per cent lower than the spray foam industry average; up to 96 per cent lower than HFO extruded polystyrene; 77 per cent lower than heavy density mineral wool; 52 per cent lower than light density mineral wool; and 55 per cent lower than unbonded loose fill and blown-in mineral wool.  These comparisons account for embodied carbon before consideration of additional building energy savings and the resulting operation carbon emission saving made possible with spray foam.

The EPD comparison results show that by simply replacing all insulation types and membranes in different assemblies with the single product HEATLOK Soya HFO at an equivalent R-value, the assembly’s GWP is cut nearly in half (45 per cent reduction in GWP).

High-performance insulations such as the mentioned HFO solutions are one of the key methods to helping meet the global warming reduction goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.  If designers, specifiers and builders make informed decisions through the use of this EPD, then we believe it was well worth the effort.

Innovative Insulation Application Processes

There are certain assembly continuous insulation application processes that are getting a lot of traction right now in the building community.  They are known for their U-value or effective R-value and these applications can be done with an HFO based closed cell spray polyurethane foam (ccSPF) product.  Some have even been rated for two hours of fire resistance between floors by fire resistant products manufacturers.  For example, let’s look at the D-Max Wall assembly, which is ideal when building during the Canadian cold and wet winters.

Experts in the building community with large projects have modified their building methods to consider the tougher climate conditions, but also to ensure efficiency, job success, worker comfort and to reduce costs.

When applying building envelope products in cold temperatures, while there are many steps to ensuring the successful application of the product, the job in the winter, takes longer.  The construction materials you choose to use in the winter will be exposed to rain, snow and wind.  Some of these products will lose their adhesion in these application settings.  This is certainly not the case with the D-Max Wall assembly.

It can be as cold as -10°C outside and you can use the D-Max Wall method and apply the ccSPF as soon as the first floor has had the exterior sheeting installed.  As the product is resistant to water, there is no need for the building to be completely watertight to apply the ccSPF.  This saves on heating costs during construction as the insulated floor can be heated right away.  There is no need to have heating without insulation, which often creates condensation or frost issues.  There’s no questioning which products should be installed first, there is only one product to install.  Finally, a complete set of detailed drawings is available to facilitate the design and construction of these projects.  The assembly is certified by an engineer and tested to meet the building code requirements for high-rise buildings. 

With extreme climate conditions we are seeing more innovative ways to build.  What’s unique about the D-Max Wall application is that it’s done with a combination of ccSPF product and regular steel studs in the wall, but instead of installing the exterior sheeting directly on the steel studs, a Z girt is installed horizontally on the studs and then the sheeting is installed on top of the Z girts.  This allows for space between the studs and the sheeting which helps the foam to insulate between the two, removing the thermal bridge.  It mimics the feel of having insulation on the exterior of the structure, but it’s applied from the interior of the building.

Three materials are replaced when using the spray foam in the interior application.  They are the exterior insulation (rockwool or others), the fibreglass insulation in the cavity and the poly.  Spray foam acts as an air barrier, vapour barrier and insulation, therefore it replaces all these materials.  It’s not at all influenced by water, so it can snow or rain on the product with the need to replace it. It’s also resistant to mold.

The groundbreaking D-Max Wall application method in concert with a ccSPF, eliminates the need for the spray foam applicator to work outside, leaving other building envelope trades to work faster on the exterior of the building and to complete their part of the building project.  But the most important outcome of all this is that it’s time-saving and economical properties provide a higher building envelope quality and durability.

Other benefits of the D-Max Wall assembly versus traditional assemblies.

Maxime-Duzyk

About the Author

Maxime Duzyk is the director of building science and engineering with Huntsman Building Solutions. He holds a background in architecture and has been in the spray foam insulation business for the last 10 years.  Maxime is involved with different building envelope committees and associations in North Americ, such as CSC, SFC, SPFA, CCMC and ULC Standards.

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About Huntsman

The Huntsman Building Solutions business is a global leader in high-performance, sustainable building envelope solutions.  Its systems and solutions are widely utilized to optimize commercial and residential structures worldwide in both new construction and retrofit applications.  Formed in 2020 with the acquisition of Icynene-Lapolla and its combination with Demilec, the Huntsman Building Solutions business capitalizes on legacy industry technologies, environmental stewardship and the power of the Huntsman brand. Visit www.huntsmanbuilds.com.