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Wrapping a building’s envelope with a continuous layer of insulation (CI) saves money and energy. It also increases the effective R-value of the structure, eliminates condensation, and creates a comfortable space for the building’s occupants. Continuous insulation is required by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE 90.1) and the International Energy Conservation Code (2015 IECC). Also, under the 2015 IECC, Section C103.2.1, a building's thermal envelope must be represented in the construction drawings. The building envelope components must meet the minimum thermal requirements of envelopes for different climates as defined by ASHRAE.
There are several methods of applying continuous insulation.
These methods are all designed to seal a building's envelope and prevent the flow of heat and energy through the wall assembly. Ultimately these methods should save money, reduce energy consumption, and make buildings more comfortable for occupants. When selecting a method of CI, builders and designers should evaluate the CI’s thermal performance, fire, ultraviolet (UV) and moisture resistance, the versatility of use, and the cost. Regardless of the method of CI installation, the result should create a comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient structure.
Application of rigid foam insulation to walls, roofs, and foundations can reduce thermal bridging, raise the R-value, and reduce air leaks. Tightly fitted wall cavities and properly taped joints between the sheets and boards are essential to preventing air flow problems within rigid foam insulation. Another potential problem is that sunlight and UV rays can damage rigid foam. The most common types of rigid foam insulation used for CI are EPS, XPS, and ISO. All provide CI but vary on R-value per inch, compressive strength, permeability to water vapor, and cost.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Rigid Foam Insulation (beadboard)
Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) Rigid Foam Insulation
Polyisocyanurate (ISO) Rigid Foam Insulation
Insulating concrete forms (ICF) are hollow panels or blocks made of expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS) or other insulating foam. Insulating concrete forms are stacked to form the shape of the walls of a building. Steel rebar reinforces the hollow centers which are filled with reinforced concrete to create a layer of continuous insulation; substantially eliminating thermal bridging through the wall.
Bautex Block Wall Systems™ are insulated concrete blocks that meet and surpass recommendations for best practices for continuous insulation in exterior walls. The Bautex Block is a lightweight (45 pounds), stay-in-place concrete form that measures 16 inches by 32 inches on the face and 10 inches through the wall. Components of the Bautex Block include custom engineered expanded polystyrene (EPS), regionally sourced Portland cement and regionally sourced recycled cementitious material. Commercial and residential buildings can use Bautex Blocks.
The continuous insulation design of a building should stop the flow of heat, energy, pollution, noise, and moisture through the wall assembly. The method used must take into account the CI’s thermal performance, fire, UV and moisture resistance, along with the type of construction, climate zone, and the wind loads. Regardless of the method of CI installation, the result should create a comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient structure. For more information on continuous insulation, visit Bautex Systems.
The effective R-value includes all the materials used in its construction: the drywall, studs, fiberglass batts, plywood or OSB sheathing, water control plane, and siding. The larger the R-value, the lower the conductivities of the wall assembly.
The IECC is a model code which is part of the family of International Codes (I-Codes) first published by the International Code Council, Inc (ICC) in 2000. The ASHTAE 90.1 is the ICC referenced standard for the IECC. Their purpose of the IECC is to establish codes and standards for the minimum design and construction requirements for energy efficiency, for both new and renovated buildings. The IECC has separate codes for commercial buildings and low-rise residential buildings (three stories or less in height above grade). Revision of the International Energy Conservation Code occurs every three years. The most recent 2015 IECC improves energy efficiency and saves building expenses.