Fairfax, Virginia -- The Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), representing the complete value chain of SPF, has released a pioneering report detailing a full life cycle assessment (LCA) of spray foam insulation.
The results show that the energy and environmental benefits from using SPF insulation in new residential construction and commercial roofing retrofits far outweigh the embodied energy and embodied environmental impacts. They also show that the energy and impacts "invested" to make, install, transport, and dispose of the insulation at end of life are minimal compared to the substantial use-phase benefits.
The ISO-compliant LCA is a full cradle-to-end of life study that covers SPF use for residential and commercial applications in three representative US climate zones. It is based on current data from SPF manufacturers and installers and has been critically reviewed and vetted by a panel of independent LCA, insulation industry, and building science experts.
"The spray foam insulation LCA led by SPFA stands out in terms of completeness, credibility and value to the industry. It is comprehensive and the results show that reduced energy and environmental impacts in both residential and commercial insulation installations far outweigh the impact associated with making the insulation," said Dr Richard Duncan, SPFA technical director, in a statement from the association.
"The insulation industry is very competitive and a fully-independent, professionally vetted LCA demonstrating product benefits is essential in the landscape we are all working in," said Kurt Riesenberg, SPFA executive director. "With all of the national attention upon energy efficiency, sustainability, and the so-called 'green-ness' of building products today, quantifying the energy and environmental attributes of a product is a critical ingredient to continued success."
The SPF LCA brings with it many benefits, including potential credits for LEED-qualified buildings, quantifiable evidence of performance, and an apples-to-apples comparison capability on key points among competing insulation materials under the new North American Product Category Rules for Insulation. The LCA is expected by SPFA to be a resource for building professionals around the world.
"It's a benchmark by which we expect to continue leading the insulation industry, and hope for others to follow," said Riesenberg.
The LCA covers primary energy from non-renewable resources, plus five critical environmental impacts related to air and water pollution. PE International Inc. carried out the embodied-energy phase study, while Sustainable Solutions Corp did the use-phase studies on residential and commercial structures.