A “Better Science” Insulation Solution
Between Cost and Efficiency
Sustainability may be one of the primary goals in building efficiently for energy efficiency, yet it’s also a completely different issue. Finding the balance between sustainability, cost and energy efficiency can be a daunting process.
We’re making the presumption that you already know how important highly effective waterproofing and air barriers are, and you’re now armed with the knowledge that higher R values are better (to a point; see “Law of Diminishing Returns” below), so we won’t go into that here.
If you think you might need a refresher in this area, click here to download a fairly comprehensive but easy to read PDF review “guide” from the US Government’s Department of Energy: SmartEnergyGuide
Given the ramifications of the potential and very real health issues related to all the various types of insulation, you could almost see yourself running out of the building screaming.
Fear not; your sanity is safe. No men in white coats will be coming anytime soon (at least not for this reason).
While marketing teams of entrenched manufacturers, their suppliers and client contractors continue to foist every trick in the Book of Phobias to convince you that their products are what you need, that they are “safe” and practical - don’t believe them.
Use your own common sense. Here at ABCS we’re THE REAL “DustBusters” with a simple rule for insulation:
“It’s a bust if it adds dust.”
So that means fiberglass, mineral fibers and cellulose are out without any doubt. That leaves only one practical alternative: foam technologies. Simmer down now; we don’t want any bundled underwear. We’ll explain some of the how’s and why’s, the most important ones… and point out the misdirections of the nay-sayers.
Go here: How They Mislead Consumers
A Primer on Polyurethanes
First, do you know what a “polyurethane” actually is? It’s a polymer composed of a chain of organic units joined by carbamate (“urethane”) links. Organic in nature, these “chemicals” are not dependent upon oil or fossil fuels in order to be made.
• insulation of refrigerators and freezers
• cushioning for furniture
• car parts
• rollers and tires
• composite wood panels
• shoe soles
The Chemical Composition
Poly implies “multiple,” right? In this case it’s short for “POLYMER” – a molecule that consists of a series of repeating smaller units called monomers. It is manufactured by combining two types of monomers, a diisocyanate (dye-eye-so-sigh-an-ate) and a diol (dye-all). This makes a basic material whose variations can be stretched, smashed or scratched and will remain fairly indestructible.
Urethanes are “carbamates,” which are salts or esters of carbamic acid; technically the simplest amino acid.
So, now you know that polyurethanes are organic materials. Polyurethane “foams” are made by combining a “resin” (the polyurethane) with a “blowing agent” – often made with plain old water. More efficient foams use a “chemical” blowing agent; because humans have figured out how to one-up nature when it comes to efficiency (in some cases).
When these manufacturers of particulates and fibers (like cellulose and fiberglass and mineral fibers etc.) jump and down, whining about how installers need to wear full-body air-suits to spray foam insulation, they’ll say something like, “how can that be safe? It’s going to off-gas VOC’s for years.” This is simply not true. You can actually eat this stuff (don’t eat too much, though – it’s not “food”).
Lifetime Transferable Warranties All of our foam product manufacturer’s offer lifetime warranties on the insulation products we install. For as long as the building stand, the manufacturers stand behind their products. The warranties stay with the building – not the occupants or owners – regardless of how many times it may be transferred. Abide Systems maintains accessible records, so if previous owners forget to transfer the warranty with the building, the new owners can easily get updated. They’ll receive the access to the same service and maintenance programs that the initial owners had enjoyed before the title was transferred.
To find out what ASHRAE says your R-value should be – and for more on how, where and why we use certain types of foam, click here: Insulation Applications
The Bottom Line?
We exclusively use spray and injected foams for insulation in our building component systems.