SPF has attributes that no other product has, Duffy stressed, explaining that “If you don’t have an air barrier with insulation, you basically don’t have insulation.”
The SFC chairman commented that, “fibrous insulation without an air barrier is basically an air filter.”
In terms of recent building code changes, the last two have seen energy efficiency ratcheted up 30 percent, said Duffy.
SPF is one of the few simple air barrier materials, so “it has to be somewhere in the mix,” Duffy feels.
In the US, SPF is used in roughly 5 percent of housing stock, with use in the commercial segment a little lower.
For certain types of construction the penetration is huge, Duffy noted, saying, “In the custom-home sector in the US, SPF might be used in upwards of 25 percent of new homes.”
While the CPI/SFC does not reveal SPF data, it has put growth over the past two years at about 29 percent, said Duffy.
“Considering everything else is relatively flat that speaks to the increasing penetration by SPF into the housing sector, in a fairly competitive market,” he commented.
A more professional approach
“Part of what we’ve been able to achieve is progress with the materials themselves, but also with the way they are applied … professionalising the industry,” he commented.
People building a business for the long term are interested in how to do a better job, in what the parameters are around durability and moisture control and proper application that will adhere in the long term, he pointed out.
Having pooled themselves as a group, CPI and SFC have also been successful in going to OSHA (the US Occupational Health and Safety Administration) and getting these activities co-funded, Duffy noted.
That’s also evidence also of a move from a confrontational relationship with federal agencies into a partnership, he said.
SFC members include 17 manufacturers of SPF systems, plus five raw materials manufacturers of catalysts, blowing agents etc.
Training and product stewardship
Duffy said that, historically, a lot of the system suppliers, including Icynene, had training programmes aligned with their products by name. “We provide specific training on those products, in the broader umbrella of health and safety,” he said.
“Look at it this way, the contractor is the extension of our manufacturing process. They are actually manufacturing insulation on site,” he said. “So we need a level of quality control that extends through his entire operation,” Duffy explained.
“I think this industry is coming around to that view of product stewardship,” Duffy said.
SFC’s web training programme has been a big success: nearly 6000 people started the training and the majority of those, up to 5000, have completed it.
The group also undertook to get the complete programme translated into Spanish, which may easily double its usage in the coming months.
Contractors in the southern states where SPF is used extensively – Florida, Texas, Arizona – have a lot of Hispanic workers and need the training in Spanish.