Closed-Cell Foam Beats Open-Cell Foam

first_imgBy Neal GanserReplacing long-obsolete insulation materials with closed-cell or open-cell spray polyurethane foam is a big step in the right direction for energy efficiency. Of the two types of foam, it is closed-cell foam that truly answers all of the building envelope’s requirements for long-term sustainability. Compared to open-cell spray foam, closed-cell foam has a higher R-value and is less vapor-permeable.Higher R-Value per InchClosed-cell foam encapsulates a high-R-value blowing agent which acts somewhat like the argon in a gas-filled insulated window. The most commonly used and safest blowing agent is made by Honeywell Corporation; it’s a non-ozone-depleting, environmentally benign chemical. This blowing agent produces a closed-cell foam with an aged R-value of about 6.2 per inch.The blowing agent used for open-cell foam is carbon dioxide, which is off-gassed as the foam cures and is eventually replaced with air. This off-gassing also contains some sensitizing agents and various catalysts. The process takes about 30 days (or more, depending on thickness), and can have an impact on people working in the building. The R-value of open-cell foam is about 3.6 per inch.While open-cell foam is cheaper to buy per inch, it takes nearly twice as many inches to achieve required R-values, and so it ends up close to the same cost per installed R-value. Accommodating the required thickness of open-cell foam may require oversized structural members, since even R-19 walls require 2×6 studs. A customer should buy insulation by its aged R-value — based on testing by a third-party laboratory — not by inches.Lower PermeanceTo avoid moisture problems in any wall or roof system, the indoor and outdoor climates must be kept apart. This requires that four criteria be met: thermal isolation, air isolation, moisture isolation, and reversibility.¹ The reversibility requirement accounts for daily and seasonal reversals in the direction of vapor drive through wall and ceiling assemblies.Closed-cell spray foam meets all of these criteria, while open-cell foam does not. The vapor permeance of 2 inches of closed-cell foam is less than 1 perm, making it a natural moisture resister. The permeance of 3 1/2 inches of open-cell foam, on the other hand, is more than 16 perms — roughly ten times the permeance of closed-cell.Because of its extremely high moisture permeance, open-cell foam fails at moisture isolation, forcing the builder to decide which side gets a vapor retarder. The outcome of this decision precludes reversibility — that is, the ability of the wall to resist moisture or to dry out in either direction.Although air leakage is a more important mechanism of moisture transport than vapor diffusion, it is silly to assume that the laws of moisture diffusion are suspended for open-cell foams. Because open-cell foam allows moisture to diffuse through it, it can allow condensation to form behind exterior sheathing in winter or behind a vapor retarder or wallpaper in summer. Diffusion-related moisture problems in walls insulated with open-cell foam are not a lot different from similar problems with fiberglass-insulated walls — except that the moisture dries more slowly, because foam doesn’t allow air movement.While it is possible to use open-cell foam successfully in some climate zones where vapor drives are predominantly in a single direction — in other words, climate zones where you can accurately predict which side of a wall to apply the vapor retarder — these zones tend to be hot, humid coastal areas subject to hurricanes and flooding. Closed-cell foam is the only insulation approved by FEMA for flood zones.As a bonus, closed-cell foam imparts strength to whatever construction it is applied in. It can be used in any climate zone in the United States without a lot of extra stuff (like vapor retarders and thick walls) to get it to work and not cause moisture damage.Look at the refrigerator in your kitchen. Refrigerators haven’t used fiber insulation for over forty years, and they don’t use open-cell foam either. Closed-cell foam is the insulation the others can only ‘wanna be.’¹ Exerpted from “Walls that Work” seminar, © 2003 Corbond CorporationTo read another perspective on the issue, see “Open-Cell Foam Beats Closed-Cell Foam.”last_img read more

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FTC Settles Charges Over Deceptive ‘Zero VOC’ Claims

first_imgFour paint companies have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceptively promoted products as containing zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or as emission free, including during and immediately after application. Some promotions also made explicit safety claims.Specifically, the first FTC complaint alleges:“In connection with the advertising, promotion, offering for sale, or sale of Natura paints, Respondent has represented, directly or indirectly, expressly or by implication, that:“a. Natura paints are emission-free.“b. Natura paints are emission-free during or immediately after painting.“c. Natura paints will not emit any chemical or substance, including VOCs, that causes material harm to consumers, including sensitive populations such as babies, asthmatics, and allergy sufferers.“d. Natura paints will not emit any chemical or substance, including VOCs, during or immediately after painting, that causes material harm to consumers, including sensitive populations such as babies, asthmatics, and allergy sufferers.”The FTC alleged, the company had no evidence to support those claims.The four companies — Benjamin Moore & Co., Inc., ICP Construction Inc., YOLO Colorhouse, LLC, and Imperial Paints, LLC — have agreed to consent orders that would bar them from making unqualified VOC-free and emission-free claims. Safety claims were ‘unsubstantiated’VOCs are chemical compounds that easily evaporate at room temperatures. All paints emit chemicals during the painting process and as they dry. Some of these chemicals can be harmful to the environment and people, especially to sensitive groups such as babies and those suffering from asthma or allergies. Arguably there is no zero-VOC paint, but that was not the basis of these complaints.In these four complaints, the FTC charged each company with making “unsubstantiated” claims that their paints were free of emissions and/or that they contained no VOCs, without any qualification (e.g., after X number of hours). The FTC also charged the companies with facilitating deception by retailers that sold their paint. Additionally, in its complaints against Benjamin Moore and ICP Construction, the FTC alleged the companies marketed their paint using “Green Promise” and “Eco Assurance” environmental seals, respectively, without disclosing to consumers that they had awarded the seal to their own products.Each of the proposed consent orders contains four provisions designed to ensure the companies do not engage in similar conduct in the future, including:First, they would prohibit the companies from making unqualified VOC-free and emission-free claims unless both content and emissions are actually zero, or emissions are at trace levels, beginning at application and thereafter. The proposed orders’ definition of “trace level of emissions,” which track the Green Guides,’ “trace amount” test, requires, in part, that emission at that level does not cause material harm that consumers typically associate with emission from the covered product, including harm to the environment or human health.Second, they would prohibit the companies from making claims about VOC levels, emission, odor, and other environmental or health benefits, unless they are true and not misleading, and unless the companies have competent and reliable scientific evidence to back them up.Third, to correct existing unsubstantiated claims, the orders would require the companies to send letters to their distributors, instructing them to stop using existing marketing materials and providing stickers or placards to correct misleading claims appearing on product packaging or labeling.Fourth, the orders would bar the companies from providing third parties with the means of making false, unsubstantiated, or misleading representations about material facts regarding paints described.The proposed orders against Benjamin Moore & Co., Inc. and ICP Construction, Inc. contain two additional provisions, which would prohibit them from misrepresenting third party certifications and failing to adequately disclose a material connection with an endorser. Stuart Kaplow is an attorney specializing in environmental law. This post originally appeared at his website Green Building Law Update. RELATED ARTICLES center_img Q&A: Low-VOC or No-VOC Furniture Paint and FinishGBA Product Guide: Paints & Coatings Manufacturers of ‘Zero VOC’ Paint Get in Trouble with the FTC Public comment periodThe commission vote to accept the consent agreements was 2-0. The FTC published a description of the consent agreement packages in the Federal Register. The agreements were subject to public comment for 30 days through August 10, later extended to September 11, after which the commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent orders final.Note that the commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $40,654.There are potentially significant legal ramifications for building owners who used these paints: 94% of LEED 2009 new construction projects earned the indoor environmental quality credit for low (or zero) emitting materials. Those materials include paint and coatings. There also are legal implications for the design professional who specified the products, as well as the contractors who applied them.last_img read more

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States Step Up for Progress on Efficiency Standards

first_imgIn the face of threatened rollbacks and inaction on national appliance energy efficiency standards by the Trump administration, the states are stepping up to protect their citizens and climate. Driven by their desire for climate leadership as part of the U.S. Climate Alliance, states including California, New York, and Washington are hard at work to ensure that their citizens will save energy and money with more efficient appliances and equipment.When states with large populations and markets (like California and New York, which taken together have nearly 20% of the population of the U.S.) set state standards, customers in other states benefit too. For many products, manufacturers will distribute the more efficient product nationwide rather than create a separate product for one or two states. As more states adopt efficiency standards, there’s even more likelihood of positive spillover benefits. WashingtonThere may not be much progress happening in Washington, D.C., on appliance standards, but efforts underway in the state of Washington are promising. The first hearing for House Bill 2327 to require standards for more than 20 new products including faucets, showerheads, and computers was held in January. This isn’t the first time Washington has tackled efficiency standards — the state already has them for products including pool pumps and water dispensers, which are already saving money and energy. Efficiency standards bills have been introduced in recent legislative sessions, but none have been as wide-reaching as the new bill.If it becomes law, residents will save big — more than $200 million on their utility bills by 2025. The savings grow to $365 million in 2035, while reducing carbon pollution by 400,000 metric tons annually, equivalent to eliminating the emissions from 85,000 cars. To be clear: those are the benefits Washington households and businesses will receive each year thanks to the proposed state standards — real savings that can be spent and invested in other parts of the economy. CaliforniaCalifornia has long been a leader on state appliance standards, adopting them in 1976 for room air conditioners, central air conditioners, refrigerators, and freezers. Many of the standards that are now federal law started as California standards.The state approved the nation’s first energy efficiency standards for computers and monitors at the end of 2016. And because California is home to one in eight U.S. consumers and manufacturers typically do not maintain separate inventories for different states, the savings are likely to have an impact nationally and even globally. Once in full effect, they will save Californians $370 million a year on their utility bills, and, we believe, lead to de facto national standards and far greater health, environmental and economic benefits. New YorkNew York adopted state appliance standards for products in the 1980s, but the majority have since been preempted by federal action. Given the lack of current federal leadership, New York is getting back into the appliance standards game in a big way.Governor Cuomo touted state appliance standards in his recent State of the State address, highlighting them as a proven way to achieve significant energy savings, as part of New York’s overall strategy to establish a strong overall energy efficiency target by Earth Day. We expect to see legislation for a number of products offering significant savings for New Yorkers, as well as focus on appliance standards by the U.S. Climate Alliance to advance standards across the Alliance and around the country. RELATED ARTICLES California Gets New Light Bulb Efficiency StandardHuge Water Savings in a Small Product Efficiency Standards: A Few Steps Forward, A Few Steps BackNo Reason to Delay Efficiency StandardsCalifornia Approves Efficiency Standards for ComputersNew Energy-Saving Standards from Barack ObamaNew Efficiency Standards for ‘Wall Warts’Should the DOE Increase Furnace Efficiency Standards?Water Heaters Get an Efficiency MakeoverA New Efficiency Standard for Gas FurnacesNew Rules for Fluorescents and Gas FireplacesRefrigerators Get New Efficiency StandardsGovernment Orders More Efficient Furnace Fans President Obama Orders Energy Department to Raise Appliance Efficiency Standardscenter_img Why state standards?The federal appliance standards program sets minimum efficiency levels for the appliances, equipment, and electronics we use every day. But the federal government isn’t the only player in this space — states have been setting their own standards since the 1970s, and continue to do so today.Over the past decade or so, the federal government has done most of the heavy lifting on efficiency standards, but the Trump administration has signaled that it plans to slow progress. While we’re going to keep fighting to protect and preserve national standards and the trillions of dollars in savings for consumers, states can help lead the way by pushing forward standards for additional products.Under federal law, states are generally “preempted”— or prohibited — from establishing state energy-efficiency standards for products that are covered by federal standards, although there are a number of important exceptions to that rule. However, states are always free to establish energy efficiency for products that are not covered by the federal appliance standards program, such as computers, computer monitors, and air purifiers; a full list of state standards that the Appliance Standards Awareness Project is recommending is shown in the table below.State efficient standards for these 21 products would save consumers nearly $16 billion annually by 2035, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.Products not covered by federal standards still have the potential to save a substantial amount of energy. Water-saving products represent some of the biggest savings: if all states adopted standards for faucets, showerheads, lawn spray sprinklers, and toilets, consumers would save more than $10 billion annually on their utility bills by 2035. Saving water saves energy, too: by using less water, energy savings are achieved by not having to pump and treat the water — or heat as much hot water.NRDC’s staff has worked with the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) to develop a model bill for adoption by interested states. According to an analysis by ASAP, adoption of state standards for the 21 products listed in the table would save consumers nearly $16 billion annually by 2035. (Note, these numbers are based on the normal replacement cycle for installed products.)Let’s take a look at recent progress happening at the state level. VermontIn May 2017, the Vermont Legislature enacted, and Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed into law, legislation that adopts current federal energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment, “so that the same standards will be in place in Vermont should the federal standards be repealed or voided.” This is an important precedent that other states should follow.And there’s more. Several additional states have efficiency standards bills under consideration, and others will be introducing them in the near future. While states are limited in what they can do because of preemption, this level of state interest and action underscores the importance and impact of efficiency standards. States know that standards are good for their residents, businesses, and manufacturers — and for cutting power-plant emissions. The federal government should follow their lead. Most recently, California moved forward with improved energy efficiency standards for the everyday screw-based lightbulb. The California standards cover the common light bulbs we use in our homes and require bulbs manufactured on or after January 1, 2018, and offered for sale in the state to achieve a minimum efficiency level of 45 lumens per watt — that’s three times more efficient than the old incandescent.This same standard will take effect at the national level in 2020, but putting the requirement in place sooner means Californians will start saving sooner. With around 250 million sockets in California still containing inefficient bulbs, the savings really add up. Once all of these sockets switch to a more efficient alternative — CFL or LED bulbs — California consumers and businesses will save an estimated $1 billion every year on their electric bills. To learn more, see NRDC’s fact sheet. Lauren Urbanek is senior energy policy advocate, energy and transportation program, at the Natural Resources Defense Council where this article was originally posted.last_img read more

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World Cup 2018: Suarez says Uruguay ‘proud to have reached last 16’

first_imgLuis Suarez put both Uruguay and hosts Russia into the second round of the World Cup while eliminating Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the same time.Suarez scored the winning goal in his 100th international appearance for Uruguay, knocking in a corner kick from Carlos Sanchez in the 23rd minute to give the two-time champions a 1-0 victory over the Saudis on Wednesday.It was the Barcelona striker’s 52nd goal for his country in a century of games.FIFA World Cup 2018: Luis Suarez takes Uruguay to round of 16″All we wanted to do was to win and qualify for the next round. Today was another demonstration that it is so difficult to win a game in a World Cup,” said man-of-the-match Suarez.”This World Cup is proving that what matters most is the result, and we’re very proud to have reached the last 16 for the third time in a row.”World Cup 2018, Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia: Match HighlightsThe 31-year-old became the first Uruguayan player to score in three World Cups. He is the ninth player overall and third from his country to score in his 100th international match.FIFA World Cup 2018: FULL COVERAGEBefore him, Sunil Chhetri (India), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Wayne Rooney (England), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Andrea Pirlo (Italy) and Clint Dempsey (USA) scored in their 100th game.Besides scoring, Suarez led his team with a hard-working performance. He fell back to defend and raced forward on the counterattack.Uruguay and Russia both have six points from their opening two matches, putting them into the round of 16. They will face each other on Monday in Samara with first place in Group A on the line.advertisement(With AP inputs)last_img read more

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