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Old 05-21-12, 06:48 PM   #1
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Default Passive House Group Bans Certain Spray-Foam Insulation

Passive House Group Bans Certain Spray-Foam Insulation

The Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) will no longer give its blessing to projects incorporating spray polyurethane foam insulation (SPF) that uses blowing agents with high contribution to global warming, according to executive director Katrin Klingenberg.

“It does not make any sense at all to use them if one of the major overarching goals of energy conservation in buildings is to counteract and decrease global warming and climate change,” Klingenberg told EBN. “There really is no point to go through all the trouble of detailed Passive House design calculations if you use high-GWP [global warming potential] spray foam.” In the past, Klingenberg said, projects have been permitted to use small amounts of SPF, but now that the U.S. group has started its own certification program, PHIUS+, even small amounts will no longer be allowed. For the time being, projects using low-GWP spray foam can still be certified as long as the “balancing requirements” that weigh material performance against carbon emissions are met.



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Old 05-21-12, 08:20 PM   #2
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I don't think that a wall should be filled with spray foam since cellulose does the job well but the supreme use of spray foam is the expanding quality to fill small penetrations. I'm assuming that will be the low-GWP spray foam usage. If my house had a faily tight design I could see where I could have possible retrofitted it with a can or two of spray foam rather than around 7 cans. 1+ inch gap around a large window was a bit surprising in the master bedroom of a 1980's house. With smaller gaps and a design that doesn't use vertical knee wall cavities open directly with the attic, I'd be set with less than 2 full cans.
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Old 05-21-12, 08:46 PM   #3
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Although some spray foams use CFCs as propellants/foaming agents, there are plenty of other options, including CO2 itself. There is lots of homework to be done before choosing a spray foam.

Urethane foam's high stabilized R-value is very attractive, because it means I should be able to get close to passivhaus standards with 6" walls. That would not be possible with cellulose. Additionally, as the house ages, I bet foam would hold its R-value better than cellulose + vapor barrier would.

Cans of Great Stuff use propane as the propellant, so they should be fairly low in terms of GWP.
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Old 05-21-12, 09:38 PM   #4
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Check out SoyThane Spray Urethane Foam Made Easy, Do it Yourself, (DIY) | Do It Yourself Spray Foam, DIY Spray Foam, Soy Foam DIY, Urethane Foam. It is made partly from renewable soy, uses compressed air as the propellant, is very compact to ship saving embodied energy, and is cheaper per board-foot than jug-style foams unless you need a small amount. The proprietary dispensing gun is included in the order and the foam material is much cheaper, so the more you need the less it costs.

I had a nearly hour-long talk with the founder (Tom, I think) about all things spray foam about a year ago. Very knowledgable & friendly older guy. Only thing not a 100% win for me is that their current formulations are not designed to be flame-retardant, although he said they are working on that.

I am considering an encapsulated attic, which requires at least R30 low permeability insulation topped with an ignition barrier in my area. My plan was to get recycled foamboard from ebay seller "insulationdepot" (for both the attic and my heat storage tank), cut it to fit between the roof rafters, then top with a bit of spray foam to make up the remaining R-value, form an ignition barrier and to seal the gaps.

I could still spray some intumescent paint on top for the ignition barrier, but it would be nice if the foam could be the barrier. I've put this project on "simmer" while doing other things, hoping soythane will add a flame retardant. Anyone compared their products to propellant jug types?


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