About Spray Foam - For Architects

Trends in Green Building

As an architect, products that improve design parameters, minimize building liablities, reduce enviromental impact and meet a number of other essential building criteria are important. SPF is a product that has met and exceed these requirments for nearly a half a century.

Additional, architects have also used SPF in roofing systems, as a sealant (to protect against unwanted air and moisture from entering through cracks in a building envelope) and as an adhesive (to install roof board insulation, roof coverings and tile roofing when through decks fastners are not usable.)


LEED Credits and SPF

The Leadership in Energy and Enviromental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high perfermance green buildings. "LEED was created to: Define, ‘green building’ by establishing a common standard of measurement, promote integrate ‘whole building’ practices, recogonize enviromental leadership in the building industry, stimulate green competition, raise consumer awareness of green building benifits and transform the building market" Use of SPF in the building envelope can generate 16+ LEED credits.


SPF as an Air Barrier

SPF provides the enhanced thermal insulation characteristics that are required on virtually all architectural projects. SPF provides a higher whole-wall R-value because it can better fill voids & cavities around electrical, plumbing and other wall obstructions (and does so uniquely well when compared to competitive products that cannot fill in complex shapes or seal cracks). As a result, SPF prevents air movement through the insulation and saves energy like nothing else can. Architects know that laboratory measured R-values may not be reflective of actual building energy performance. A Fiberglass batt of insulation with a printed value of R-13, will likely only provide an R-9 or less due to improper installation as well as the other inherent restrictions of the material. SPF insulation receives a consistently higher R-value because air does not move within or through the spray foam insulation. "It has been estimated that 40% of a home’s heating or cooling loss results from air flow through cracks beneath the sill plate, around wall units and windows, duct runs and other leak sources throughout the building envelope."


SPF for code compliance- Ashrae 90.1 – increasing R – Values

Ashrae 90.1 is a set of building standards developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, which have been the accepted procedures for building design and construction throughout the U.S. since 1975. Ashrae 90.1 has been the basis of building codes and the reference source used by the Department of Energy for the establishment of state building energy codes under the Federal Energy Conservation and Production Act. In 2007 wall and roof R-values for commercial buildings were increased by 30% in the Ashrae 90.1 standard. Roof and walls insulated with SPF will easily meet the new R-value standards.


SPF insulation in and on roofs - commercial buildings

A unique characteristic of spray foam is that it is “self supporting” which means it can be used on the underside of roofs and floors as insulation. When the roof is insulated in this way, a number of additional benefits can be added, such as the control of attic moisture and heat build-up. When using traditional batt insulation it is often “piled up”. As a result, when the insulation is placed over recessed lights, outside walls, sloped or tray ceilings, or knee walls, an inconsistent, non-uniform surface (or thermal cap) is often created. This results in voids and thus dramatically reduces the R-value.

SPF has also been used for many years as a highly resilient, cost effective commercial roofing solution. An SPF roof starts with sprayed polyurethane foam membrane and then is coated with an elastomeric coating to protect the foam from UV degradation and leakage. The same sealing qualities that SPF has when used as an insulation also contributes to creating a virtually leak proof, low maintenance roof for commercial uses. SPF is a cool construction material and reduces the “heat island” effect often found on standard, non-SPF commercial roofs.


SPF in unvented attics – residential

Building researchers have proposed making attics into conditioned space by removing the ventilation completely and insulating the underside of the roof rather than the ceilings - a task accomplished by using spray polyurethane foam. Moisture problems are also addressed by the benefits of SPF. In the past, roofs were ventilated in order to prevent moisture problems and to reduce heat build-up, but that’s now been shown to make the problems worse. Attic moisture is a result of condensation on cold roof surfaces; by adding more vents, attics become cooler thus encouraging condensation on the underside of the roof. Ventilation also doesn’t address the issue of summer heat, as once believed. Research from the Florida Solar Research center and the Building Research Council in Illinois show that attic heat results from radiant heat transfer.