Icynene insulation is worth its salt – says Halen Mon
AWARD WINNING SEA SALT PRODUCER HALEN MON [ANGLESEY SEA SALT] HAS SEEN PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY INCREASE BY 25% SINCE INSULATING ITS MANUFACTURING PLANT WITH SPRAY-APPLIED INSULATION FROM ICYNENE.
Anglesey Sea Salt has won an enviable reputation for culinary excellence for its range of speciality salts which are made using sea-water drawn from the fast flowing Menai straights that separate Anglesey from the North Wales mainland.
During the warm summer months, the process of evaporating seawater to create a 15-20% brine concentrate is straightforward, however in colder winter months, production can drop significantly. Production Manger Ronan Burns explains. “Maintaining a high core temperature in our evaporation plant is crucial. In winter, external temperatures drop and this reduces the amount of seawater we can convert into salt-rich brine”
The evaporation process takes place in a 300 sq m steel framed building, clad in corrugated metal sheeting. Previous attempts the insulate the building had failed due to the aggressive, moisture laden atmosphere.
“Everything we tried failed miserably – even rigid board insulation soaked up so much moisture that it dropped off under its own weight.” explained Mr Burns.
In desperation, the company turned to specialist insulation contractor Heatlok who recommended Icynene, spray applied insulation as a solution.
Icynene is a high performance, spay foam insulation which expands rapidly on application, sealing all gaps, service holes and hard to reach spaces, virtually eliminating cold bridging and air leakage.
Heatlok’s Greg Raby takes up the story. “Adhesion failure caused by moisture absorption can be a big problem for most forms of insulation but we selected Icynene’s LDC50 formulation for the Halen Mon project and it worked perfectly” said Mr Raby.
A 150mm thick layer of Icynene LDC50 was spray-applied to the interior of the walls and roof of the building. LDC50 was chosen because of its superior cold temperature adhesion and low moisture absorption properties. The insulation has a soft, flexible composition and maintains an air seal even when exposed to seasonal expansion/ contraction of the building structure.
According to Ronan Burns, Halen Mon has seen a big improvement in production efficiency since insulation of the building.
“Icynene insulation has allowed us to be roughly 25% more efficient in brine making. We normally run at 1000 litres per hour in summer but drop to 750 litres per hour in winter. Now that we have insulation that really works, we can run at summer production rates all through the year”.
“What’s more, our electricity consumption has dropped by 18%, so the Icynene insulation will pay for itself in less than 6 months – I wish we’d done it before” added Mr Burns.
Better insulation can help prevent climate catastrophe
A new study highlights the contribution better insulation can make to slowing the effects of global warming. Housing Association magazine takes a look….
According to a recent study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC], without urgent worldwide ac on to prevent global temperatures rising to a point 1.5 degrees higher than those of pre-industrial times, we face what they describe as a “Global Climate Catastrophe”.
Whether you are a global warming sceptic or not, the three-year study paints a bleak picture of our future, if urgent ac on to reduce carbon emissions – one of the principal causes of worldwide temperatures rises – is not taken soon.
The IPCC report, presented in South Korea in October 2018, says that rapid and significant changes need to be made across the board in energy consumption, land use, industry, cities and lifestyle. It says we need to travel less, use energy more efficiently and demand low carbon in everyday consumer products.
The report also emphasises the need to improve levels of insulation in homes, offices and factories so as not to waste the energy that has already used precious resources to generate.
Clearly, the main ac on points are aimed at governmental levels but even small steps taken by individuals can collectively, make a significant impact on the issues that threaten us.
Take home insulation. Over 60% of our current housing stock was built pre-1960 when little thought was given to heat loss prevention. The incorporation of insulation in new-build properties only really began in the years following the oil-price shock of 1973.
Now, with energy prices rising year by year at inflation busting rates, efficient thermal insulation is more important than ever before.
Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that, to reduce heat loss in a building you simply put more and more insulation in the roof. This works up to a point, beyond which, adding more layers of insulation follows the law of diminishing returns. Why is this?
How insulation works
To understand how insulation works it helps to understand heat flow, which involves three basic mechanisms – conduction, convection, and radiation.
Insulation materials work by slowing conductive heat flow and to a lesser extent, convective heat flow. Heat flows from warmer to cooler areas until there is no longer a temperature difference. Heat loss is also proportional to the speed of the moving air, the amount of moisture present and the temperature differential between heat source and the air itself.
In a typical home, this means that in winter, heat flows directly from all heated living spaces to adjacent unheated roof voids, garages, cellars and particularly to the outdoors.
In order to specify insulation correctly, the designer needs to understand the reasons why it works and apply the correct technology to any given construction detail. By understanding the processes that make insulation work and indeed, the factors that stop it from working, design professionals will be in a far stronger position to specify the correct material for the correct application.
Preventing air leakage
In the UK, U values are the measure of insulation’s ability to limit conductive heat flow – the lower the U value the be er the resistance to heat loss. However, it should be noted that up to 40% of a building’s heat loss can be a attributed to air leakage – what we would all understand as draughts.
Moisture vapour in the air within a building carries heat and moist humid air can support up to 4000 times more heat energy than dry air. As air leaks out of a building it carries this moisture vapour and with it, heat.
Therefore, the best way to increase the energy efficiency of a building is not merely to reduce U values as required by Building Regs, but rather to combine U value reduction with an air barrier – creating a ‘sealed box’ effect to reduce air [and heat] leakage to a minimum.*
Traditional forms of insulation – mineral fibre and rigid-board type materials – are relatively inefficient in sealing the box, in that they cannot completely fill all voids or seal the interface between the insulation and the building structure. Nor can they cope with small structural movements which will o en lead to air-leakage gaps, particularly in difficult to treat situations where access is poor and/or when voids are of complex geometry. This can lead to cold bridging and thermal by-pass, with the consequent risk of localised condensation and inevitable dampness.
Air leakage can be eliminated by the introduction of an air barrier but must be installed with great care if it is to perform as desired.
Spray applied insulation
The modern alternative is a fully breathable, open- cell spray foam insulation, which is applied using a pressurised gun system. Here, foams are applied as a two-component mixture that come together at the p of a gun forming a foam that expands 100- fold within seconds of application, sealing all gaps, service holes and hard to reach spaces, virtually eliminating cold bridging and air leakage.
When selecting spray applied insulation it is important to understand a number of factors: unlike the urethane foams of 20 years ago, modern spray foams such as Icynene FoamLite use water as the blowing agent. This means that the reaction between the two components produces CO2 which causes the foam to expand.
As FoamLite expands, the cells of the foam burst and the CO2 is replaced by air. Consequently, from an environmental perspective, Icynene has a Global Warming Potential [GWP] of 1 and an Ozone Depletion Potential [ODP] of 0 [Zero]. Nor does Icynene emit and harmful gases once cured.
Modern spray foam systems are also formulated to create an ‘open cell’ composition. Open cell foams such as FoamLite are extremely vapour open and will allow moisture vapour to pass freely through it allowing the building to breathe naturally. Open cell foam will also not soak up or ‘wick’ water.
This new genera on of spray applied insulation products, when professionally applied by experienced contractors, can result in near zero air leakage through the building envelope. In fact, Icynene has been shown to achieve airtightness standards exceeding those of the world renown Passivhaus system of construction.
Clearly, reducing heat loss in our building stock will make a significant contribution to lowering carbon emissions. There are over 20 million homes in the UK, so improving their thermal efficiency through better insulation and reduction of air leakage will result in lower energy consumption and therefore help achieve the overarching goal of slowing the rise of global temperatures.
Icynene Spray Foam Insulation for Vaulted Church Roof Restoration
Contractors working on the restoration and modernisation of an early 20th century Church in Manchester, were faced with a difficult insulation challenge to reduce on-going heat loss through the double skinned roof above the worship area, comprising a ceiling vault, roof void and dual pitched roof over.
Originally built in 1931, Christ Church, on Parrs Wood Road, South Manchester, had deteriorated over the years and needed major restorative work to bring it back up to an acceptable standard.
Timber framed additions to the original structure were nearing the end of their working life and access facilities were felt to be unsatisfactory. Consequently, Architects Mattin MacLean of Buxton Spa, were brought in to oversee the work which included reconfiguration of the building, removal of the problem areas and general upgrading of the Church, including the installation of underfloor heating and other essential services.
Part of the works involved insulation of the roof void above the barrel-vaulted worship area and semi-circular apse. Project Architect, Roddie MacLean explains. “We saw heat loss through the fabric of the building as a major issue. A new underfloor heating system, driven by an Air Sourced Heat Pump was specified, so it was important to also upgrade the insulation levels – particularly to the roof area”
He continued: “the problem we faced was the curvature of ceiling areas. Conventional, rigid board insulation could not be made to t and we couldn’t guarantee that layers of flexible, mineral wool insulation would actually stay in place after installation. We needed an insulation material that would follow the curvature of the vaulting and fill the voids created by the complex geometry of the apse dome and roof structure above”
Spray applied insulation
Locally based Main Contractors, Armitage Construction, brought in specialist insulation contractors, Green Horizon Energy Solutions to assess the project. They suggested a spray applied, foam insulation system from Icynene.
Matt Lawford of Green Horizon takes up the story. “Icynene is a spray applied system that expands instantly on application. It’s specifically designed to get into difficult to fill areas where traditional insulation materials just don’t work. It closes off gaps and holes, reducing air leakage, but because it has a soft, yielding texture, it puts only minimal pressure on the structure so its just right for work on historic building like this”
Green Horizon used Icynene’s Foamlite LDC50 system, which is an open cell foam that allows the building to breathe naturally, resisting internal condensation.
According to Icynene, air leakage is responsible for up to 40% of a buildings heat loss and the system’s ability to close off small structural gaps and service holes, creating a “sealed box” environment, makes it one of the most efficient and cost-effective means of heat-loss mitigation in a building. In this instance, the roof void above, including the original roof timbers, remained naturally ventilated
Icynene also points out that, unlike urethane foams of 20 years ago, modern spray foams like Foamlite use water as the blowing agent. The reaction between the chemical components produces CO2 which causes the foam to expand. As the foam expands the cells burst and the CO2 is replaced by air.
As a result, Foamlite has a global warming potential [GWP] of 1 [One] and an ozone depletion potential [ODP] of 0 [Zero]. Furthermore, Icynene does not emit any harmful gasses once cured and is completely inert.
Restricted workspace with difficult access
Access to the ceiling vault was one of the most difficult challenges to the insulation process, explained Matt Lawford. “We were on a very near vertical incline at the sides of the dome and had to manoeuvre across the timber roof joists, in difficult tight spaces, taking extreme care not to damage the ceiling of the church below. The workspace on the sides was only a few feet wide in places but it opened-up a little as we climbed up onto the arch”.
The Icynene LDC 50 insulation foam was sprayed to a thickness of 100-200mm directly on to the back of the ceiling structure. Green Horizon’s objective was to create a minimum blanket of 100mm over the entire ceiling back – roughly 450 square metres, with additional depth used to fill areas where adjoining arch planes met. Installation of the Icynene insulation was completed over a seven-day period.
The right material in the right place
Commenting on the insulation of the Church, Roddie MacLean added “We looked at a variety of different options for what to use and where to insulate but Icynene emerged as the ideal answer. It was the right material in the right place”.
Icynene spray foam insulation for high-end new-build
Exceptional thermal performance and low running costs were key criteria for the construction of a 3000sq ft, new-build home in rural North Yorkshire.
Designed for a private client by Harrogate Architects, Townscape, the high specification property was built in the style of a barn on a spacious, level site, formerly occupied by redundant farm buildings.
Practice Head and Project Architect, Nick Silcock takes up the story. “Planning required that the site was developed to reflect the traditional look and feel of a farmstead with an open courtyard area bordered by buildings that sat comfortably with the rural vernacular”
Whilst delighted with the old-world, barn-style of architecture created by Townscape, their clients required a much more up to date treatment for the construction methods and long-term performance of the building – particularly relating to thermal efficiency and low running costs.
Townscape looked at various structural solutions and decided on a hybrid, timber frame arrangement with an additional blockwork inner leaf to the gables.
An outer leaf of coursed natural stone in a pale buff/rose shade with sawn stone dressings, together with a blue slate roof was specified – a style common to the village.
Air tightness and exceptional levels of thermal insulation were also required as the clients were keen to minimise running costs and achieve a low carbon footprint. Townscapes solution was provided by careful attention to construction detailing and the innovative use of a spray applied insulation system from Icynene.
Icynene is a high performance, spray foam insulation applied using a pressurised gun system. Foams are sprayed as a two-component mixture that come together forming a foam that expands 100-fold within seconds of application, sealing all gaps, service holes etc.
According to Icynene, traditional forms of insulation are relatively inefficient in sealing the box, in that they cannot completely fill all voids or seal the interface between the insulation and the building structure. Nor can they cope with small structural movements which will often lead to air gaps.
Minimising air leakage is one of the most effective ways of reducing heat loss in a build- ing, as up to 40% of a building’s heat loss can be attributed to air leakage.
Icynene “FoamLite” was sprayed directly onto the strand-board backing to the internal timber frame, filling it to a depth of 150mm. As FoamLlite is a “vapour open” foam it allows moisture vapour to pass freely through it, allowing the building to breathe naturally, resisting cold bridging and condensation.
Unlike the urethane foams of 20 years ago, modern spray foams such as FoamLite use water as the blowing agent. This means that the reaction between the two components produces C02 which causes the foam to expand.
As the foam expands, the cells burst and the CO2 is replaced by air. Consequently, from an environmental perspective, Icynene has a Global Warming Potential [GWP] of 1 and an Ozone Depletion Potential [ODP] of 0 [Zero]. Icynene does not, therefore emit and harmful gases once cured.
After trimming back excess foam, a vapour control layer [VCL] was applied to the inner face of the frame, with all joints to VCL junctions, window frames, floor and roof junctions sealed with specialist Tenson tapes. Internal facades were then lined with 57.5mm thick insulated plasterboard and wet skimmed. As the roof space was also to be used as the master bedroom suite, a similar insulation treatment was applied.
On the external face of the timber frame, a low e breather membrane – Reflectashield TF 0.81 was applied. This low emissivity membrane is specifically designed to enhance thermal performance of timber framed structures.
The combined structural elements created a wall thickness of 516mm overall, with a calculated U-value of 0.17 W/m2K achieved.
Because the insulation and anticipated levels of air tightness were so high, Townscape incorporated a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system [MVHR] into the building. Moist, stale air is mechanically drawn from the kitchen and bathrooms into a system of extraction ducting which passes it through a heat exchanger before being returned to “dry” rooms – lounge, snug, office and bedrooms etc.
Space and domestic hot water heating was given a similar forward thinking treatment in the form of a high efficiency, Air Source Heat Pump driving a wet, underfloor heating system to ground, first and second floor rooms.
Townscapes, Nick Silcock concludes “Like in the car industry, the design and build of high specification homes like this are at the “Formula 1” end of construction technology. Many of the cutting-edge solutions used today will eventually filter down to mass market homebuilding in ten or twenty years from now”.
The property was built over an eight-month period by E & K Construction of Easingwold near York and was completed at the end of 2017. Eight months down the line, running costs for the property are broadly in line with expectations.
Awards Commendation for Icynene-Insulation Historic Property
The successful insulation of a 250 year-old farmhouse in rural Aberdeenshire has received a Commendation in the Scottish Energy Efficiency Awards, which took place in Glasgow this Summer.
Bogendollo House, an early 19th century category C Listed Building at Fettercairn near Aberdeen, was the subject of an extended trial to assess the viability of high performance spray foam insulation as a means of preventing heat loss in architecturally significant buildings.
The initial trial was completed seven years ago and was followed by two years of monitoring of the hydrothermal performance of the insulated space. The building received further improvement in 2017 when the entire structure was insulated and airtightness addressed at walls and around openings.
This additional improvement was then assessed through energy consumption monitoring and revealed striking results.
The work was funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Scottish Government’s SEEKIT Programme under the Construction Improvement Club (CIC) scheme.
The project was undertaken as a collaboration between academics at Robert Gordon University’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment in Aberdeen, Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and industry partners Icynene, suppliers of the insulation system, in association with locally based Conservation Contractors, Kishorn Ltd.
The Bogendollo project was led by Dr Amar Bennadji, Principal Investigator and Lecturer in Architecture at Robert Gordon University. He explained: “Scotland has a rich heritage of architecturally significant properties, many of them built when little thought was given to heat retention. We wanted to show that heat-loss mitigation measures can be introduced to these buildings without compromising delicate internal finishes which often influence their elevation to listed status as much as their external structure”.
He continued: “At Bogendollo, many period internal features were still intact and our over- riding objective was to bring the building up to modern standards of thermal performance without damaging these delicate and irreplaceable features”
Bogandollo House falls squarely into the category of “Hard to Treat” in terms of its ability to receive insulation. Built of solid 500mm thick masonry, with a soft, lath-and-plaster internal skin bearing period dado rails and architraves, the building raised significant challenges to the team.
The process devised by Dr Bennadji involved the injection of the foam insulation into the narrow void between the external walls and the lath-and- plaster lining. The methodology was tested at the workshops of Kishorn Insulation then refined on site by a team of 16 collaborators from four countries, including the CEO of Spray Foam Insulation supplier Icynene who travelled from his base in Canada to attend the trial.
The foam system used was Icynene FoamLite, an “open cell” system that expands gently when applied, sealing all gaps service holes and hard to reach spaces and puts little pressure on the fragile inner walls.
Unlike the urethane foams of 20 years ago, modern spray foams such as Icynene uses water as the blowing agent. This means that the reaction between its chemical components produces C02 which causes the foam to expand. Cells of the foam burst and the CO2 is replaced by air.
This open cell foam provides outstanding insulation but still allows the building to breathe naturally. According to Icynene, the material has a Global Warming Potential [GWP] of 1 and an Ozone Depletion Potential [ODP] of 0 [Zero]. Nor does it emit and harmful gases once cured.
Analysis of the results of the various stages of trials showed that energy consumption for heating had fallen 56%. This suggests that the Bogendollo House would require 5% less energy input than a comparable structure built to current Building Regulations standards.
The successful use of high-tech insulation materials on important heritage buildings is of great significance both in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Under European Regulations, around 400,000 historic buildings are required to be insulated to a standard that will achieve appropriate energy and carbon savings.
In conclusion, Amar Bennadji said “There is obviously a delicate balance between reducing energy consumption and preserving our built heritage. This project has clearly established that energy consumption can be reduced with no impact on the aesthetics of the building. We believe this opens the door for both historic buildings and older domestic properties to finally retain warmth, reduce their energy bills and contribute towards efforts to curb global warming”.
The Scottish Regional Energy Efficiency Awards were launched in September 2016 following the changes in Government Energy Efficiency Policy. Previously known as the Scotland Regional Green Deal & ECO Awards, these awards were set up to help recognise the work being carried out by the energy efficiency sector in Scotland in their delivery of the Green Deal Finance Initiative and Energy Company Obligation Scheme.
The Awards took place in Glasgow in June 2018 and Bogendollo was Highly Commended in the Small-Scale Project of the Year Category.
Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas
Built in 1958, the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, more commonly known as Galway Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral that suffered from a huge condensation problem until Icynene spray foam insulation was used to help rectify the problem.
Dominating the Galway skyline, Galway Cathedral is one of the city’s largest and most impressive buildings. Built on the site of the old city prison, the cathedral evokes a Renaissance style and features a large dome and barrel-shaped roof.
The unique design of the roof plagued the cathedral with a significant condensation problem. The Catholic church sought to address the condensation problem as well as improve thermal and acoustic properties while preserving the building itself.
Licensed Icynene Airseal Insulations of Galway was successful in being selected to address the condensation, thermal and acoustic problems affecting the cathedral.
The Airseal spray foam team worked closely with the project architect to help them understand the significant performance advantages of water blown Icynene light density spray foam over a chemically blown closed cell product. The benefit of vapour diffusion and bi-directional drying convinced the project architect that open cell light density Icynene spray foam insulation was a superior choice.
Around 14 sets of Icynene Classic were applied to the unique barrel- shaped roof. The cathedral’s condensation issues have now been successfully addressed with thermal and acoustic performance properties also successfully addressed by the high performance foam insulation material.
The work on Galway Cathedral did receive SEAI approval (Sustainable Authority of Ireland) and funding.
Icynene Spray Foam Insulation for New Baptist Church in Dumfries
Designers of a new community Baptist Church, nearing completion in Dumfries, turned to spray applied insulation specialists, Icynene to solve a complex insulation challenge.
The new Church is a 2000sqm, multi-purpose building designed by Glasgow based, McLean Architects and built in the Georgetown district of Dumfries in the Scottish Borders.
The building was conceived as a flexible-use community hub comprising worship, conference and youth facilities together a full specification games hall and multi-use games area.
For the games hall, McLean Architects designed an 18.00x 18.00 m sq 8.00m high structure comprising a 140mm thick internal leaf of concrete blockwork with an external steel frame, supporting fibre-cement rain-screen cladding.
Here, the placement of insulation between the blockwork and the cladding system proved problematic. Project Architect Kirsty Wilson explains. “The complex latticework of steel frame for the cladding made it extremely difficult to install conventional rigid board insulation. It would have been a hugely labour-intensive and expensive process and achieving the required air tightness standards would have been pretty much impossible”
Spray foam insulation
Specialist insulation contractors, JSJ Foam Insulation Ltd, who were brought in by main contractors Ashleigh Building of Dumfries, recommended Icynene, a high-performance spray foam insulation system which would be applied directly to the outer face of the blockwork, then covered by the cladding.
Icynene is a predominantly water blown insulation which is applied using a pressurised gun system. Foam is applied as a two-component mixture that comes together at the tip of a gun forming a foam that expands 100-fold within seconds of application, sealing all gaps, service holes and hard to reach spaces, virtually eliminating cold bridging and air leakage.
Air leakage can cause up to 40% of heat loss from a building and traditional forms of insulation are relatively inefficient in sealing the box, as they cannot completely fill all voids or seal the interface between the insulation and the building structure. Nor can they cope with small structural movements which will often lead to air gaps, particularly in difficult to treat situations where access is poor and when voids are of complex geometry.
Jim Shearer of JSJ Foam Insulation takes up the story. “Icynene is nothing like the urethane foams of 20 years ago. Icynene uses water as the blowing agent so the reaction between the two components produces C02 which makes the foam expand.”
He continued, “We sprayed Icynene directly onto the blockwork and over the concealed sections of cladding framework. We had free access to the existing scaffolding platforms so the spraying process was quick and straightforward. We had job done in under a week.” Said Mr Shearer.
Open or closed cell composition
Spray foam insulation can be either open or closed cell in composition. Open cell is extremely vapour open and will allow moisture vapour to pass freely through it allowing the building to breathe naturally.
For the Dumfries Baptist Church project, Icynene MDC-200 HFO, a closed cell foam that uses Hydro-Flouro Olovine [HFO] as a blowing agent, was used. HFO is an environmentally friendly material which has a Global Warming Potential [GWP] of only 2 and an Ozone depletion rating of 0 [Zero].
Closed cell foams tend to be much less vapour permeable than open cell and are considerably more rigid and hard. They resist the passage of liquid water and are ideal for use in conjunction with the rain-screen cladding system specified. Closed cell foams also have a greater thermal resistance than open cell foams.
Cost efficient solution
Icynene MDC-200 foam insulation was applied to the entire outer leaf of the games hall, an area of approximately 550 sqm and to a thickness of 150mm. The work was completed over a four-day period.
According to Icynene, spray applied insulation is broadly comparable in cost to conventional fibre based and rigid board type insulation materials however, its speed of installation, minimal waste and its ability to perform in difficult to treat applications means spray foam can be an extremely cost-effective solution for a variety of projects up to and including those built to Passivhaus standards.
Construction of the Baptist Church buildings began in early 2017 and is scheduled for completion by Easter, 2018.
Icynene Awarded Energy Saving Trust Approval
Spray foam insulation specialists, Icynene has achieved the prestigious Energy Saving Trust [EST] approval for its high performance, Icynene Foamlite system.
Icynene Foamlite is a spray applied insulation system specifically developed for use in wall, roof and underfloor applications where high levels of insulation and air tightness are required.
When applied, Icynene Foamlite expands 100-fold within the first few seconds, sealing all gaps, service holes and hard to reach spaces completely eliminating cold bridging.
Icynene Foamlite can be applied directly to breathable and non-breathable roof membranes without the need for an air gap. Because the foam has a soft, open-cell structure it allows the free passage of moisture vapour, allowing buildings to breathe naturally. It also means that roof timbers in contact with the foam will not “sweat” and promote mould growth.
According to Icynene UK Managing Director, Paddy Leighton, “Winning EST approval is a robust process and a huge achievement for Icynene and we are delighted to have our products recognised for their high performance”
The Energy Saving Trust is an independent and impartial organisation which promotes energy efficiency across the domestic housing sector, helping consumers save energy in their homes.
EST also provides advice, research and consultancy services to help consumers, businesses, governments and communities achieve sustainable use of energy.
Icynene provides a 25-year warranty for all its insulation products and as well as carrying EST Approval, Foamlite is also BBA Certified.
Spray Applied Insulation – High Performance Heat Loss Mitigation
Paddy Leighton, UK Director for Spray Foam insulation specialists Icynene, looks at heat loss in buildings and how new, high performance insulation systems can improve comfort levels in retrofit and new build applications.
When Britain began its post war building boom, coal was king and energy was relatively cheap, so little thought was given to heat loss and few buildings were constructed with any meaningful level of insulation.
Seventy years on and the world is very different. With sky-high heating costs and a greater focus on the need to reduce energy consumption, builders, landlords and homeowners all take the insulation of their properties much more seriously.
But before we look at insulation it’s important to understand what’s involved. Insulation in a building is introduced to provide resistance to heat flow. The more heat flow resistance the insulation provides, the lower the likely heating [and cooling] costs. Good levels of insulation not only reduce heating and cooling costs, but also improve comfort.
How Insulation Works
To understand how insulation works it helps to understand heat flow, which involves three basic mechanisms — conduction, convection, and radiation.
Conduction is the way heat moves through materials, such as when a spoon placed in a hot cup of coffee conducts heat through its handle to your hand.
Convection is the way heat circulates through liquids and gases, and is why lighter, warmer air rises, and cooler, denser air sinks.
Radiant heat travels in a straight line and heats anything solid in its path that absorbs its energy – think about sitting in front of a roaring open fire and how you feel warm on the side facing the fire but less so on the other!
Insulation materials work by slowing conductive heat flow and to a lesser extent, convective heat flow. Regardless of the mechanism, heat flows from warmer to cooler areas until there is no longer a temperature difference. In a typical home, this means that in winter, heat flows directly from all heated living spaces to adjacent unheated roof voids, garages, cellars and particularly to the outdoors. Heat flow will also move indirectly through interior ceilings, walls, and floors, wherever there is a difference in temperature.
To maintain comfort, the heat lost in the winter must be replaced by heat from a central heating system or other means. Adequate levels of insulation will decrease this heat loss by providing an effective resistance to the conductive flow of heat.
How can we insulate effectively?
Retrospective insulation – that which is fitted after construction the building – has traditionally taken the form of thick layers of glass or mineral fibre placed between rafters in the roof void, or blown in cavity wall insulation such as styrene beads or mineral wool.
These forms of insulation work well but they do not significantly address the crucial factor of preventing convective heat loss.
In the UK, U values are the measure of insulation’s ability to limit conductive heat flow – the lower the U value the better the resistance to heat loss. However, it should be noted that up to 40% of a building’s heat loss can be attributed to air leakage.
Moisture vapour in the air within a building carries heat and moist humid air can support up to 4000 times more heat energy than dry air. As air leaks out of a building it carries with it this moisture vapour and with it, heat.
Therefore, the best way to increase the energy efficiency of a building is not merely to reduce U values as required by Building Regs, but rather to combine U value reduction with an air barrier – creating a “sealed box” effect to reduce air [and heat] leakage to a minimum. [*Footnote]
Spray applied insulation
Traditional forms of insulation are relatively inefficient in sealing the box, in that they cannot completely fill all voids or seal the interface between the insulation and the building structure. Nor can they cope with small structural movements which will often lead to air gaps, particularly in difficult to treat situations where access is poor and/or when voids are of complex geometry. This can lead to cold bridging and thermal by-pass, with the consequent risk of localised condensation and inevitable dampness.
Air leakage can be eliminated by the introduction of an air barrier. These can take many forms but must be installed with great care if they are to perform as desired. Real world experience also shows that the more difficult a component is to install, the less likely it is to be installed correctly!
The modern alternative is spray foam insulation, which is applied using a pressurised gun system. Here, foams are applied as a two-component mixture that come together at the tip of a gun forming a foam that expands 100-fold within seconds of application, sealing all gaps, service holes and hard to reach spaces, virtually eliminating cold bridging and air leakage.
When selecting spray applied insulation it is important to understand a number of factors: Unlike the urethane foams of 20 years ago, modern spray foams such as Icynene Foam Lite use water as the blowing agent. This means that the reaction between the two components produces C02 which causes the foam to expand.
As Foam Lite expands, the cells of the foam burst and the CO2 is replaced by air. Consequently, from an environmental perspective, Icynene has a Global Warming Potential [GWP] of 1 and an Ozone Depletion Potential [ODP] of 0 [Zero]. Icynene does not, therefore emit and harmful gases once cured.
Open cell or closed cell composition
Spray foam insulation can be either open or closed cell in composition. Open cell is extremely vapour open and will allow moisture vapour to pass freely through it allowing the building to breathe naturally. Open cell foam will not soak up or “wick” water.
Closed cell foams tend to be much less vapour permeable than open cell and are considerably more rigid and hard. They resist the passage of liquid water and although not entirely waterproof, will prevent it from passing through a structure for a considerable period of time. Closed cell foams often have a greater thermal resistance than open cell foams.
Chlorofluorocarbons [CFCs], which were developed in the 1930s and frequently used in spray insulation many years ago, are recognised as the main cause of the ozone depletion. CFC’s can last for 100 years and 1 CFC molecule can result in the loss of 100,000 ozone molecules. In light of this, when spray applied insulation is used it is important to verify that the material does not contain any chemicals that may potentially cause damage to the environment.
Where does spray applied insulation fit?
Spray applied insulation tends to be more expensive than conventional fibre based and rigid board type insulation materials and is usually applied by specialist contractors using bespoke equipment. However, its speed of installation, minimal waste and its ability to perform in difficult to treat applications and the fact that it can be injected into voids that would otherwise require invasive tear-out of surfaces, means spray foam is a cost-effective solution when compared to rigid board type insulation for both refurbishment and new build projects.
Open cell spray insulation has been used on many historic buildings where its non-invasive installation methods have allowed the continued occupation of the building with the minimal of disruption to users and negligible impact to the fabric or the breathability of the structure.
At the other end of the scale, the fact that spray foam insulation can create air-tight envelope has also made it the insulation material of choice in new build homes built to Passivhaus-type standards.
ICYNENE spay applied insulation trials for difficult to treat flats in Glasgow
Reidvale Housing Association in the Dennistoun suburb of Glasgow, turned to spray applied installation specialists Icynene for a solution to the insulation of a number of difficult-to-heat flats under their control.
Reidvale HA manages over 900 houses and flats in Glasgow’s east end, many of which date back to Victorian times.
At the end of 2016, Reidvale began an insulation assessment programme in conjunction with Hab Lab -John Gilbert Architects (Improving the longevity of your housing stock while reducing fuel poverty for tenants) on three of their older, ground floor flats to find out the best way to insulate them and reduce heating costs to improve living conditions for their tenants.
Michael McMenamin, Maintenance Manager explains. “We chose three of the most difficult to treat properties for the trials. They are all ground floor flats in pre-1919, stone-built tenements, which have solid outside walls and virtually no insulation. Plaster-boarded stud walls had been fitted during improvement in the 1980s but this did little to slow the heat loss. Fuel usage for the gas central heating systems was pretty high”
He continued, “The plan was to insulate the stud walls and underfloor voids and reduce air leakage to a minimum. Air leakage is one of the main sources of heat loss and we are aiming to reduce these conditions as far as practicable. Consequently, we will fit a combination of mechanical ventilation and heat recovery units, as required, to each of the flats. Monitoring equipment will also be installed to assess internal and external humidity levels, heat-loss reduction and fuel consumption over a full year period”.
Icynene Spray applied insulation was specified for the trials because of its speed of application, high performance and breathability. Icynene is a water blown, open cell foam that expands 100-fold within seconds of application, sealing all gaps, service holes and hard to reach spaces, virtually eliminating cold bridging and air leakage.
Because of its “vapour open” composition, it allows moisture vapour to pass through it, allowing the building to breathe naturally and prevent condensation.
Installation was undertaken by locally based Icynene contractor, Jim Shearer of JSJ Insulation. “Access to the underfloor void was straight forward by simply lifting the large format chipboard flooring boards. Here we fitted a breathable roofing membrane to the underside of the 6×2” floor joists and sprayed a layer of foam about 150mm thick. We repeated this under each of the rooms – about 50-60sqm in all”.
“For the walls, we injected Icynene through a series of 20mm holes drilled in the plasterboard, directly onto the inner face of the outside wall, giving us 100mm thick layer of foam”. explained Mr Shearer.
“Each flat took us about a day and a half to complete – much faster than if we were using conventional rigid board insulation. Our use of a thermal imaging camera also helped identify any critical voids and cold spots that needed special attention” he added.
Traditional forms of insulation are relatively inefficient in sealing the box, in that they cannot completely fill all voids or seal the interface between the insulation and the building structure. Nor can they cope with small structural movements which will often lead to air gaps, particularly in difficult to treat situations where access is poor and/or when voids are of complex geometry. This can lead to cold bridging and thermal by-pass, with the consequent risk of localised condensation and inevitable dampness.
The modern alternative is spray foam insulation, which is applied using a pressurised gun system. Here, foams are applied as a two-component mixture that come together at the tip of a gun, forming a foam that expands instantly, sealing gaps, service holes and hard to reach spaces, virtually eliminating cold bridging and air leakage.
According to Michael McMenemin, the Icynene insulation trials at Reidvale HA will continue throughout the year. If proved to be successful they should lead to similar treatment of up to 100 additional properties under their management.
Domaine Vincent Pinard Winery
Known as one of the leading wine producing regions of France, the commune of Bué in the Loire Valley is one of the few communes able to produce Sancerre wines. One winery has taken the innovative step to insulate their wine cellars with spray foam insulation aligning with its own environmental policy.
The commune of Bué in the famed Loire Valley wine-making region is one of the few that is able to make appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) Sancerre wine. Roughly two hours south of Paris and only 40 minutes from the city of Bourges, the area is the epicentre of dry Sauvignon Blanc and full-bodied Pinot Noir wine.
One local vintner, Domaine Vincent Pinard, one of the oldest and most renowned in the region, became attracted to preserving their cellars with spray foam insulation to better regulate the temperatures needed for the wine-making process.
North Oaks Home, Minnesota, USA
Close to the picturesque Pleasant Lake and overlooking the historic James J. Hill barn, creamery and blacksmith shop, this elegant and rustic home in North Oaks in Minnesota has become a model of energy efficient living with a HERS Index of 64.
A northern suburb of Saint Paul, Minnesota, North Oaks is a small, quaint community centered on the picturesque Pleasant Lake. Originally purchased by Saint Paul magnate, James J. Hill in 1883 to function as a breeding and hobby farm, the area is now home to over 4,500 residents.
In 2013, the team of building professionals from Bob Michels Construction, Inc. worked to transform a rustic 4,279 sq. ft. home into an energy efficient residence to increase the functionality and ow of the property as well as take advantage of the surrounding views.
Fifth Town Cheese Factory, Canada
Set against the picturesque, agrarian landscape of Prince Edward County in Ontario, this 4,200 sq. ft. cheese factory is the vision of a sustainability enthusiast with a passion for all things dairy. The facility holds a Platinum LEED certification due to its myriad of green sustainability initiatives.
Within the heart of Ontario’s dairy community in the picturesque, agrarian landscape of Prince Edward County in Ontario, the Fifth Town Cheese Factory has become a brilliant example of adopting sustainable, green technologies into agricultural construction.
Owned by sustainability enthusiast Petra Cooper, the Fifth Town Cheese Factory is a mixed use facility that has been awarded a Platinum certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – New Construction (LEED – NC) rating system.
“The Treehouse” in Gloucestershire as Featured on Channel 4’s “Grand Designs”
Another fantastic application of Icynene this time to the famous Grand Designs project “The Treehouse” in Gloucestershire. Icynene was used in the walls, floor and ceilings to this wonderful project.
Video: The Boxpark Croydon Project
An excellent video on The Boxpark Croydon project, this was an application of Icynene Ultraseal Select to over 6000m2 of an innovative commercial park which will host over 40 rising drink and food providers, Icynene brought a number of excellent qualities to this project as outlined in the video, when choosing spray foam choose Icynene, there is a difference.
Icynene Insulation for this Windswept, Cumbrian Barn Conversion
The insulation of a 120-year old Cumbrian barn conversion proved a difficult challenge for this Father and Son farming partnership. Here, ECO Building News takes a look at a new technique in thermal insulation that’s gaining popularity in these difficult to treat projects.
On the exposed Furness peninsular in Cumbria, close to the Lake District Fells, there is precious little shelter from the fierce, westerly gales that batter this part of the Irish Sea coastline.
Icynene Addresses Thermal Comfort and Condensation Concerns on Pig Farms
A key player in the Irish pork industry, Kiernan Pig Farms embarked on a major refurbishment project that saw Icynene spray foam insulation address thermal comfort and condensation concerns.
As part of their on-going development and growth, Kiernan Pig Farms, one of Ireland’s largest pork suppliers, launched a major refurbishment project across a number of their piggery sites to improve thermal comfort and address condensation control.
Critical factors for successful pig production and animal husbandry are optimal animal comfort, health, growth and productivity. Barns and sheds must be able to maintain steady indoor temperatures to achieve these factors.
To ensure that their facilities were able to provide steady thermal comfort as well as address condensation concerns, Kiernan Pig Farms asked local Irish licensed Icynene contractor, Airseal Insulations, to provide a cost- effective, high-performance solution.
Icynene in Agricultural Facilities
With a number of the shed roofs requiring minor repairs and being too expensive to replace completely, Airseal Insulations recommended that Icynene Classic Plus, a low- density open cell spray foam insulation product, be used to seal the underside of the roof structure.
As an open-cell spray foam, Icynene Classic Plus was chosen over closed- cell spray foam alternatives due to its ability to expand and contract with the natural movement of the roof. Additionally, the insulation material would allow the roof timber to breathe naturally while its air seal capabilities would block out allergens and pollutants from entering the space.
With nine stages of work to be completed in total, Airseal Insulations completed the rst stage of the project over a two week period, covering approximately 2,200m2 (23,680 sq. ft.) of roof space with 75mm (3”) of Icynene Classic Plus spray foam insulation.
It is estimated that the inclusion of Icynene spray foam insulation into the pig farms will reduce energy loss by up to 48%.
Technitherm® successfully insulates cavities in a building in a severe exposure area subject to flooding
Bank of Ireland
The bank is situated next to an industrial estate where the road in to the estate is one and a half metres above the ground level of the bank.
During the winter snow storms, the snow drifted against the side wall of the bank, and this was added to as more piles of snow from the roads being cleared were put against the side wall.
As the snow melted, the melt waters soaked through the outer brick leaf of the side wall and into the cavity. This was exacerbated by the wind driven rain against the wall and resulted in the cavity flooding and the water soaking through the inner leaf of the cavity, causing severe dampness on the inner walls of the bank.
The problem was to dry out the walls, find a flood resilient material which would also insulate the cavity to a high standard. There was also concern that the flooded cavity might have structurally weakened the wall.
To dry out the walls, some outer leaf bricks were removed from the side wall and rubble in the cavity was cleaned out to a depth of 300mm and the bricks were replaced.
Technitherm was then installed into the cavity as flood resilient cavity wall insulation. Being closed cell insulation Technitherm has been independently tested to prove its flood resilience, so Technitherm was able to prevent further ingress of water and solve any structural problems caused by the flood waters.
The walls of the Bank are now flood resilient, removing any further danger of dampness on the inner walls. Technitherm has also provided insulation values which match Building regulations and eliminated any structural problems caused by flooding.
Engineering pull‐test on Technitherm® injected cavity wall
The Test – Step 1
An unstable cavity wall was injected with Technitherm®. All the wall ties were isolated from the outer leaf, and then a chase cut through the bricks and mortar to the foam to create a 1m² free standing, brick panel.
The Test – Step 2
A sturdy steel frame was then added to the panel, and connected to a load cell. Once connected, the panel was subjected to increasing pull‐forces from the load cell, under the supervision of the specialist engineer in charge of the test.
At 1.818 tonnes/m², with no adhesion failure at all, the test was aborted to prevent any damage to the inner leaf. Technitherm® is, therefore, proven to provide a simple and highly effective solution to cavity wall failure, whilst insulating buildings to Building Regulation Standard BS 7457:1994 (BBA Cert No. 97/3426), with zero ozone depletion potential (ODP). A low GWP version is also available.
Technitherm: Homeowners in flood risk areas
Flood waters can penetrate cavity walls and cause major damage to the outer wall, the cavity wall ties, any fibrous insulation, the inner wall and decor. 3 million houses are at risk.
Technitherm®, a water resistant, closed cell cavity insulant:
- Prevents corrosion of wall ties
- Prevents insulation damage
- Replaces wall ties where they are already in disrepair
Technitherm® is shown to be the best performing type of cavity wall product according to a recent report on Flood Protection issued by DEFRA, DCLG and The Environment Agency. The report states that cavity wall insulation should be rigid closed cell materials, as these retain their physical integrity and have low moisture take up when exposed to flood waters.
www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/br/flood_performance.pdf (Table 6.2, p75)
A Traditionally Built Cottage
A traditionally built cottage consisting of two “leaves” of random stone with a variable width cavity. The outer leaves were buckling due to inadequate tying and foundation movement, and the energy efficiency of the cottage was very poor, as conventional wall insulation could not be installed for a number of reasons. Foundation repairs could not be undertaken due to the danger of the walls collapsing during the work. Pressure grouting and partial demolition were considered unacceptable due to instability and cost, and neither measure would improve the energy efficiency of the cottage.
Technitherm® was injected into the cavity to stabilise and insulate the walls so that underpinning could be carried out, followed by local rebuilding of the buckled panels. The injection was carried out over 3 days to minimise disruption of the random stone outer leaf. Such was the success of the Technitherm® installation that not a single stone was displaced and the process was completed with the owner in occupation.
After treatment with Technitherm® the walls were so stable that it was unnecessary to undertake any further structural repairs. Joints in the outer stone leaf were simply raked free of old mortar and re‐pointed. The cost was less than 1/6th of other accepted repair techniques. The cottage was weatherproofed due to Technitherm® being hydrophobic closed cell PUR.
Technitherm® enhanced the insulation of the walls and draught‐proofed the cottage in the single installation, and now the owner is enjoying warmer living conditions and lower energy bills. The structural repair was completed leaving the wall virtually unblemished.
Icynene Spray Foam Selected for Prestigious Cancer Care Centre
The Icynene Spray Foam Insulation System has been selected as the insulation of choice for the new build Maggies Cancer Care Centre in Aberdeen. Icynene was selected by the projects architects Halliday, Fraser, Munrow as the insulation of choice for the walls and roof due to its long successful history, comprehensive testing and certification, unique non toxic properties and its ability to provide a complete insulation and air barrier in one application, U values achieved for walls and roof were 0.14 and in some areas as low as 0.10.
The work was carried out by Icynene accredited contractor Building Insulation Services, Penicuik, Edinburgh.
Icynene Insulation selected for Eircom Projects
The Icynene Insulation System has been selected as the preferred insulation of choice for Eircom’s office facilities throughout Ireland.
Eircom is Ireland’s principal provider of fixed-line telecommunications services with 2.6 million fixed lines and its mobile division has over 1million customers. The first project, insulating Eircom’s 700 sq meter facilities at Castlebar, has recently been completed by Icynene Contractor Airseal Insulations Galway.
With the focus firmly on reducing energy demand, Icynene’s soft foam insulation was applied to the underside of the roof structure at Castlebar and the process reduced heat loss through the roof by 83 per cent and the overall building heat loss by 48 per cent. Air leakage and air infiltration was also reduced by 93 per cent.
“Eircom were experiencing very high energy bills and occupant discomfort at this facility which was cold in winter and excessively hot during the summer months,” said GMS Insulations Ltd managing director Gerry Sheridan who is the importers and distributors of The Icynene Insulation System to Ireland and the UK. “Using Icynene’s water blown soft foam insulation, which gives off no harmful emissions, we could offer dramatic energy savings, better indoor air quality and ensure reductions in CO2 emissions.”
It was Eircom who made the initial approach to GMS as they were looking to improve the energy efficiency and insulation standards across a number of their commercial buildings and offices.
“We carried out demonstrations for Eircom and they also came to see Icynene being installed at other projects we were working on,” said Gerry Sheridan. “Soft foam is the fastest growing insulation material in the world today and Eircom were impressed as it is a one application product, is not labour intensive and is applied on site.“
“The Icynene Insulation System was installed efficiently in a number of Eircom buildings without disruption to service or personnel and proved to be a cost effective method of maintaining and even improving comfort levels” said an Eircom spokesperson
Founded in Canada in 1986, Icynene’s unique formulation has won awards around the world as extremely environmentally friendly foam for superior indoor air quality, energy savings and the reduction of CO2 emissions in sustainable buildings. It has been used in over 300,000 projects including offices, private homes, hospitals, museums and art galleries and also in acoustic projects.
Icynene has developed a range of products to suit different applications and situations. Icynene classic, Icynene pour fill for closed cavities and Icynene MD-R- 210 which is closed cell medium density water blown foam
Icynene used on New Build A3 rated House on Inisboffin Island
The Icynene Insulation System was used to insulate the walls and sloping roof of a new build house on the picturesque Island of Inisbofin. This was an ideal solution as it eliminated the need to transport large quantities of conventional insulation to the Island as all the materials required for this house came on a single truck, Icynene provided U values of 0.15 with an exceptional airtightness level of 1.23m3/hr/m2 at 50pascals of pressure, Icynene was chosen as the insulation of choice due to its ability to withstand severe weather conditions experienced on the Island and still maintain a high level of Insulation and airtightness, see further details at http://www.woodbofin.ie/current-project/
Project completed by Icynene contractor Airseal Insulations Galway
Icynene selected as insulation of choice for St Josephs Day Care Centre and Living accommodation at Clonsilla Dublin
Icynene was chosen as the insulation of choice to solve a difficult air tightness problem to St Joseph’s facilities Clonsilla Dublin, the unusual detail and construction of the warm roof meant that conventional air barriers would have been virtually impossible to use and Icynene was chosen by the project architects and main contractor JJ Rhatigan as the perfect solution in addition to eliminating interstitial condensation risks due to its low moisture absorption and high level of vapour resistance for a soft foam.
Project completed by Icynene Contractor Airseal Insulations Galway.
Icynene used on new dome roof to The Errigal Hotel Virginia Co Cavan
Icynene was selected as the product of choice by consultant engineers CS Pringle to Insulated this most complicated dome roof structure. This roof structure would be virtually impossible to insulate with board or quilt insulation however the project was completed within two days achieving a U value of 0.14 and a very high level of airtightness.
Project completed by Icynene contractor Polar Insulations Dunshaughlin
Icynene used on new build home Kenmare Co Kerry
Icynene was the insulation of choice for this unique architecturally designed barrel roof which would have proven too difficult to insulate and airtight with conventional insulations, the application was completed in less than one day without holding up progress on site.
Project completed by Icynene Contractor Munster Spray Foam
Icynene selected for Linen Mill Film Studios Banbridge Co Down
The Icynene Insulation system was selected for this film studio to eliminate airborne sound coming for traffic, aeroplanes etc and also to prevent condensation occurring on the underside of the roof during filming, the unit was successfully insulated within a two day period.
Project completed by One Step Insulation Ballyclare, Co Antrim.