By Alvin Brown
To fully understand and appreciate spray foam and its importance to today’s
building industry is to take a closer look at one of the main goals of
architects and building engineers -- to create sustainable structures
which allows maximum design creativity. With an ability to contour into
any space or shape and adhere to any surface, spray foam allows such creativity.
For years many designers and building professionals subscribed to a philosophy
of “allowing a structure to breathe”. With this in mind they
were purposely building structures that were allowing air to flow in and
out, and also accepting the reality that for the sake of air ventilation,
a certain level of moisture would be acceptable. In short, past structures
were not built for energy efficiency, sustainability, nor moisture or
temperature control, they were built to properly ventilate.
However, several things changed over the past decade that contributed to
a shift in building and insulation philosophies – namely, an increased
use of spray foam; especially closed-cell foam, which offers comprehensive
insulation, serving as air, vapor and moisture barriers. Additionally,
a call for more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and more sustainable
building envelopes, has also played a major role in the contemporary need
to tightly insulate structures. Designers are now thinking in terms of
energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, and comfort.
Another element demanding the attention of the future-leaning insulation
movement is the health aspect. As Industry insiders learned about the
dangers of excess moisture, they quickly moved to address the issue. Too
much moisture creates the threat of wood-rot, but can also lead to mold
growth, which sometimes can produce toxic substances known as mycotoxins,
affecting those that are allergen-sensitive and asthmatic. Respiratory
ailments such as asthma can be dangerous if not diagnosed in time. Spray
foam basically seals off outside moisture, while also keeping unwanted
outside allergens from entering and circulating.
The rise of spray foam as an insulation product is attributed to much more
than its flexibility and outstanding insulating capabilities, it also
has beneficial and attractive eco-friendly properties. In efforts to reduce
waste and minimize ozone-damaging carbon emissions from use of petroleum
and coal, Demilec, one of the largest manufacturers of polyurethane spray
foam, leads in the development of foam products composed of renewable
materials such as biodegradable non-toxic soy and plastic bottles.
Whereas buildings were once thought to have a need to breathe, today’s
architects and builders are designing air and moisture tight structures
with an eye on comfort, sustainability and efficiency. Spray foam is the
primary reason for this shift in design and building possibilities.