LAS VEGAS — Lapolla Industries Inc., a Houston-based manufacturer of spray polyurethane foam (SPF), is ahead of schedule on its pledge to lower use of harmful hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) in its entire product line by the end of the year.
“We're already there,” Lapolla CEO Doug Kramer said on the floor of the International Builders' Show on Jan. 20. “Others are making commitments for 2020-22 and we've already commercialized technology that's bringing value to the environment and consumers.”
Lapolla uses a liquid blowing agent developed by Honeywell International Inc. called Solstice to make its low-HFC closed-cell foam insulation. HFCs are potent greenhouses gases that contribute to climate change and by some estimates do 10,000 times the ozone damage of carbon monoxide.
Manufacturers of foam for walls, attics, roofs and crawl spaces made a big effort to put a spotlight on their innovations at IBS as the trend toward improving a building's energy efficiency with eco-friendly products gains traction.
Former “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” TV host Ty Pennington spent a couple hours at the Lapolla booth. Part of a hallway wall at The New American Home was covered in clear plastic instead of dry wall to show how the open-cell foam made by Bayer MaterialScience LLC fills every nook and cranny. “HouseCalls” TV host Ron Hazelton made an appearance for CertainTeed, which brought a new open-cell SPF with fire-protective qualities. And, Dow Building Solutions, which was pushing a foam board, had demonstrations and speakers backing its claim that it is the only manufacturer that can help a builder do everything to achieve a zero-energy ready home,
Agent of change
Lapolla and Honeywell also are private-sector partners of a White House effort to limit greenhouse gases.
“We took Honeywell's blowing agent technology, reformulated around that, and created a good, strong, stable foam system,” Kramer said. “We're the first ones in the world to accomplish this.”
The blowing agent allows the SPF insulation to expand and it is said to improve the foam's performance. This next-generation agent is non-flammable, isn't a volatile organic compound, and it contributes to the foam's insulating properties, which improve a building's energy efficiency, Kramer said. The Environmental Protection Agency approved the agent for its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP).
Honeywell says in a news release that it partnered with Lapolla to launch the use of Solstice in foam wall systems because the building product manufacturer has a global reach and rapport with commercial and residential architects, builders and renovators.
Kramer said Lapolla reaped some other benefits, too. He pointed to Lapolla's Foam-Lok 2000-4G (the latter part of the product name refers to fourth generation). Lapolla says it has a 10 percent better R-value, which has been tested and proven, an 8 to 10 percent improved yield, and a zero value when it comes to ozone-depleting properties (ODP).
When he talks about the green benefits of curbing the proliferation of HFCs, Kramer also gets into number assigned to the blowing agent's global-warming potential (GWP), which measures how much heat a substance can trap in the atmosphere. In a rating where lower is better, Solstice gets a 1 compared to 725 to 1,030 for other agents.
“It's a significant change,” Kramer said.
CertainTeed's new open-cell SPF insulation — called CertaSpray X — is designed for use in attics and crawl spaces, where its built-in, fire-protective coating is supposed to be left exposed.
For other similar products, the installers have to go back a day or two later to spray on an ignition barrier, spokesman Ryan Heath said.
“CertaSpray X provides one-step protection, which helps builders stay on time and on budget” he added. “It cures to a mocha color so building inspectors know it doesn't need to have the extra barrier over it.”
The foam feels like an egg carton as opposed to a closed-cell foam, which is more rigid.
“There may be a few other manufacturers that have it but it's a newer product,” Heath said. “It hits the market in March.”
Got it all
Dow employees also extol the virtues of foams to seal a building envelope. The company makes closed-cell foam, a hybrid foam for windows and doors, and a low-pressure spray foam that it says has the same qualities as a high-pressure drum foam but doesn't need expensive large rigs for installation.
Paired up with other Dow products, the company offers thermal, air and moisture protection as well as a source of power generation with its solar shingles. Dow says its full product portfolio is unique in terms of having it all to build a net-zero energy house, which roughly creates the same amount of energy than it uses annually.
“No one else in the industry has this top-to-bottom offering,” Tim Lacey, business director for Dow Building Solutions-Americas. “That's how we can say no other manufacturer can help a builder achieve zero-energy ready homes. It's the combination of our solar shingles and all the solutions we have for the envelope of the home.”
Dow bills its product line as an “outperformance system” and a couple recommendations related to it stray from common building practices. Instead of using 2-by-6 studs for the wall framing, Dow research scientist Brian Lieburn recommends using 2-by-4 studs. Then, after the OSB board goes up, he says it should be protected with a minimum of an inch of foam sheathing instead of a house wrap.
Foam board has several benefits over house wraps, he added, starting with a layer of insulation for the entire home.
“House wraps alone provide no insulation,” Lieburn said. “Dow Styrofoam sheathing is also a tested water-resistive barrier with code approval designed to keep water out. House wraps aren't required to do assembly testing to meet the code.”
And, then there's the foam's ability to block air leaks.
“That can account for as much as 30 to 40 percent of the en energy loss in the typical home,” Lieburn said.