Architects in the Know: Insulation

Quality, cost, and effectiveness are important factors in considering which insulation products to use on your latest design/build. Continuous Insulation (ci), for example, is now prescribed by the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) in more than 90% of the buildings across the country. An outgrowth of ASHRAE 90.1 which began in 2009, these standards have since been established (since 2012) as the base for energy efficiency minimums.

 

According to the Department of Energy, as evidenced by the image below, a majority of states are now actively working to bring new commercial buildings to these new standards, and in several states, above standard.

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Credit: Energy Codes map from the Department of Energy

 

Types of insulation used in ci:

The envelope or wrap of a building consists of many layers, most of which provide some level of insulation. From the steel or wood frame to the insulation fill, be it rock wool or recycled clothing to rigid foam panels, and all the exterior cladding be it stucco, brick, or siding: these all play a role in the strength, efficiency, and durability of your building’s exterior structure.

Proper sealing and insulation a home or business continues to rank as one of the primary means of cost-effectively saving energy while simultaneously increasing the structure’s comfort level. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), reducing leakage in the building’s envelope dramatically improves comfort, air quality and efficiency. A properly wrapped structure will also endure the rigors of the elements longer, which reduces costly maintenance and upkeep.

Critical to your design and installation of exterior insulation is how they rate in the NFPA 285: the standard fire test. How long can your insulation withstand high-intensity flame? Today’s mineral wool (also known as rock wool or slag wool) can withstand temperatures of up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit without melting, making it one of the more fire retardant products on the market.

More information on cavity and continuous insulation (ci) requirements:

Energy Codes on insulation: here.

Energy Star insulation: here.

Durability and Design report on EIFS: here.