Reformulated versions of spray polyurethane foam with only a tiny fraction of the global warming potential of their predecessors will be required in Colorado beginning January 1, 2021. Kinzler Construction Services, Home of United Insulators, is already installing closed-cell spray foam made with the hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blowing agent.
Blowing agents are essential ingredients in spray foam insulation. They create the tiny bubbles of trapped gas that slow the movement of heat and make foam such a great insulator. But the most common blowing agent in spray polyurethane foam today, a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), has a global warming potential (GWP) more than 1,000 times that of carbon dioxide. HFO spray foam formulations now have a GWP of 1.
Colorado’s HFC Phase-Out
Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission unanimously adopted Regulation 22, which is a result of climate legislation that established statewide greenhouse gas emission goals.
The regulation is based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s nationwide timeline for HFCs phase-out by January 2021. That timeline has been set back by litigation after a federal court ruled that the EPA can’t ban HFCs under a provision of the Clean Air Act, since the concern is climate and not ozone. U.S. Climate Alliance States — including Colorado — have decided to move forward with the phase-out.
HFO manufacturers say the new spray foam has several advantages over products made with HFCs. One is an increase in the maximum thickness of each layer, or “lift,” of foam that can be applied.
Spray foams are mixed on site in an application gun. The ensuing chemical reaction produces heat as well as the characteristic foam. If the foam applied in a single pass is too thick, the chemical reaction can generate too much heat. Typically, spray foam can be applied in lifts of a couple of inches, but HFO can often be applied 6 1/2 inches thick in a single pass.
The HFO-blown foam also has high R-values – as much as R-6.3 per inch when measured in a 2-inch thick layer, but R-7.4 per inch at a depth of 8 inches. The “stacked R-value” is higher because the thermal resistance of a thicker layer of foam is not linear — it adds up faster than a simple multiplication of its 1-inch R-value would suggest.
Kinzler’s Building Science Experts
Kinzler Construction Services, Home of United Insulators in Denver, brings more than 35 years of experience to help with your insulation needs in metro Denver and the Colorado Front Range. We serve home builders, commercial construction contractors, remodelers and home owners. Contact us today to see how we can partner on your next project!