About Foam Insulation

Why Is Foam Insulation Important?
What Are the Benefits of Foam Insulation for Homeowners?
Are Different Types of Foam Insulation Available?

About Building Codes, Fire Performance and Foam Insulation

How Are Building Codes and Fire Standards Developed?
What Is the ICC?
What Changes Were Proposed to the IgCC?
What Changes Were Proposed During the IRC Development Cycle?
Does the Coalition Believe the Building Code Should Be Changed?
How Does Foam Insulation Meet Fire Performance Standards?
What Are Flame Retardants?

About Foam Insulation

Why Is Foam Insulation Important?

Foam insulation is a state-of-the-art building material that architects, builders and contractors can use to meet the stringent energy code requirements of today and tomorrow. Gaps, holes and air leaks can make energy bills unnecessarily high and let valuable resources go to waste. High-performing foam insulation can help to effectively seal gaps and close air leaks, maintain indoor air temperature and reduce a building’s energy usage.

What Are the Benefits of Foam Insulation for Homeowners?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling accounts for approximately half of the energy used in a typical home in the United States. Further, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that homeowners who air seal and insulate their homes can save up to 20 percent of heating and cooling costs.

A 2009 study by the consulting firm McKinsey found that a $520 billion investment through 2020 in energy-efficiency improvements in residential and commercial buildings, such as adding insulation, sealing ducts and replacing inefficient appliances, could produce $1.2 trillion in savings on energy bills.

Foam insulation can help consumers lower their energy bills by reducing air leaks and by decreasing the transfer of heat between indoor and outdoor environments. In addition, foam insulation products can reduce drafts and noise, and provide increased air leak resistance and durability.

Are Different Types of Foam Insulation Available?

Numerous types of foam insulation are available to meet the diverse needs and applications of consumers, architects, contractors, specifiers and others. Foam insulation can be made from a variety of plastics, including polyisocyanurate, polystyrene and polyurethane.


About Building Codes, Fire Performance and Foam Insulation

How Are Building Codes and Fire Standards Developed?

The International Code Council (ICC) establishes building codes that serve as the standard in many U.S. states and municipalities, and in many countries around the world. The ICC process draws on an array of experts, including builders, contractors, building owners and regulatory officials, as well as experts from industry, academia and product testing organizations. Existing building code fire safety provisions are based on years of careful analysis, extensive testing and a robust and inclusive public development process.

To learn more about the code development process, download the EEFC’s fact sheet.

What Is the ICC?

The ICC is an organization responsible for developing model codes and standards used in the design, building and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. Among others, the organization administers the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and the International Residential Code (IRC). Learn more about the ICC on its website.

What Changes Were Proposed to the IgCC?

During the update cycle for the 2015 versions of the International Residential Code and International Green Construction Code, the actions of ICC bodies affirmed the importance of fire safety and the existing fire safety requirements for foam plastic insulation.

The IgCC General Committee considered three code change proposals at the ICC Committee Action Hearings in April 2014. Those proposals could have resulted in the removal of flame retardants from foam insulation, leading to diminished fire safety and potentially higher costs of construction materials. Fortunately for building owners and occupants, the proposals were defeated during the IgCC update process and current, proven fire safety standards were upheld.

What Changes Were Proposed During the IRC Development Cycle?

In April 2013, the ICC process validated existing fire performance requirements for foam insulation after the IRC Building Committee rejected two proposals – RB163 and RB164 – that could have diminished the fire safety of foam insulation in certain residential applications. The ICC’s voting members affirmed the IRC Building Committee’s decision in October 2013, supporting the more than 35 years of real-world evidence that the current IRC flammability requirements for foam insulation are effective.

Does the Coalition Believe the Building Codes Should Be Changed?

The Coalition strongly believes that the current fire test provisions in the building codes should remain in place. Any change to existing building code fire safety provisions should come only after careful study, analysis and deliberation through an open and transparent code development process. Any lowering of fire protection can present increased danger for occupants and change potential liabilities for manufacturers and building professionals.

How Does Foam Insulation Meet Fire Performance Standards?

Foam insulation manufacturers add flame retardants to their products to help prevent fires from starting, to limit the spread of fires and to minimize fire damage. Flame retardants in foam insulation are an important line of defense when it comes to fire safety. They can help protect building occupants, construction workers and first responders from fire-related death and injury, and owners and occupants from property loss. Download the EEFC’s fact sheet on foam insulation and fire safety.

To learn more about flame retardants, including insight from leading researchers, visit the North American Flame Retardant Alliance’s website.

What Are Flame Retardants?

Flame retardants are a key component in reducing the devastating impact of fires on people, property and the environment. They are added to or used to treat flammable materials, including foam insulation. The term “flame retardant” refers to a function, not a family of chemicals. A variety of different chemicals with diverse properties and structures can be used as flame retardants, and they are often combined for effectiveness.

To learn more about flame retardants, including insight from leading researchers, visit the North American Flame Retardant Alliance’s website.

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