Midland, Michigan -- Dow Building Solutions and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have taken a step toward tackling a major environmental concern -- the amount of energy consumed by the 4.8 million commercial buildings in the US, many of which were built before today's energy efficiency standards.
Dow, ORNL, and design-build firm, Paramount Metal Systems, claim to have turned a 50-year-old building at ORNL into a state-of-the art, energy efficient research facility. Initial test results show a 75-percent reduction in heat flow, resulting in projected 75 to 80-percent monthly savings in energy costs.
ORNL selected the facility as a test site to demonstrate that retrofitting older buildings is a viable, cost-effective option to achieve an immediate reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings account for 43 percent of the US carbon emissions and, according to a recent McKinsey study, insulation is one of the most cost-effective means of reducing energy consumption and the generation of greenhouse gases.
According to the EPA's ENERGY STAR Challenge, improving the energy efficiency of US commercial and industrial buildings by 10 percent would reduce greenhouse gases equal to the emissions from about 30 million vehicles.
For the ONRL building, the retrofit relies on polyurethane foam insulation on the form of Dow's Thermax insulation (a non-structural, rigid board insulation consisting of a glass-fibre-reinforced polyisocyanurate core laminated between aluminium foil).
Also used are Dow's FrothPak, a two-component polyurethane spray foam that comes in both portable kits and refillable tanks, and Great Stuff Pro insulating PU foam sealant from Dow.
"This project demonstrates Dow's ability to respond to the growing retrofit market by applying today's insulation solutions and technologies to existing buildings, bringing them up to or even beyond current codes, and providing a return on investment through energy savings year after year," said Doug Todd, market manager, commercial construction, Dow Building Solutions, North America.
"Every product selected for the retrofit project was carefully researched and chosen based on performance," said André Desjarlais, group leader for Building Envelopes Research, ORNL.
"The result is a building that looks brand new, exceeds ASHRAE energy efficiency code, and provides a consistent, comfortable working environment for the people conducting research inside. As we continue to monitor thermal performance over the years, we believe this retrofit will serve as a standard against which to measure other retrofits," added Desjarlais.