Thursday, November 1, 2007

Phoenix Green Building Expo

The 10th annual Green Building Expo in Scottsdale was held on Oct 5-6th. The event was very well-organized and many companies with different disciplines had participated in this expo. The diversified range of companies attended this event helped us learn further about various green building techniques and environmentally low-impact products for structure, exterior and interior building design. Our visit to this event was mainly intended to find potential construction methods or materials appropriate for our current design studio project. This project is a single story prefab building that is going to be constructed on 18’x12’ footprint in Tempe area.

The Icynene Insulation System booth – a company well-known for its soft foam insulation – was the company that its simple but innovative green design approach really caught my attention. Richard, a representative of the Icynene Insulation System who was explaining the advantages of their products to the enthusiastic crowd was also impressed with the attention their products had received in this expo. He said "It is excellent to see how communities are learning from this event and I get really happy when people especially students come here to educate themselves and others about green design."

Over the course of time, almost all building materials have evolved gradually and today it is almost impossible to think of any type of building material that has not been improved. Among all these, insulation is no exception. Looking back in the last century one can find a wide variety of materials people have used for insulation means. Some of the most common ones can be named as cellulose, fiberglass, sheep's wool and polyicynene and polyurethane which are oil-based materials. Although some of these are derived through green processes, some of these are available in large (such as sheep’s wool). The Icynene Insulation System is a high-quality insulation that is developed by merging building science technology with design performance. It is a soft spray-in-place, light density, expanding foam insulation that acts both as insulation and air barrier. It takes the shape of where it is contained and offers a custom fit every time it is installed because it expands 100 times its initial volume. One of the great advantages of this insulation is its capability to deliver improved sound control while providing superior control of air leakage. On top of all, it is environmentally-friendly, non-toxic, and formaldehyde free.

With the current growth in the number of homeowners and further focus on providing more reliable and sustainable energy saving solutions, Icynene is a healthier alternative to conventional insulation. It provides the protective barrier preventing allergenic and dust from entering the home by completely sealing the building envelope. This water-based product also contains none of the harmful chemical and gasses often associated with traditional insulations such as fiberglass. By minimizing air infiltration it also reduces the amount of airborne moisture that can result in mold.

It not only makes a healthier home but also a quieter home. Traffic, neighborhood activities and plumbing runs can be the sources of annoying and unwanted sounds that can intrude into our living spaces, thwarting comfort and enjoyment. By acting as a sound barrier and sealing the building envelope against unwanted sounds, it effectively minimizes airborne sounds in the mid range frequency and it is perfect for limiting noises from plumbing runs, road, home theater and playrooms.

Energy efficiency can often be associated with green design. With Icynene, energy cost savings can be as high as 50% compared to the conventional insulations. Furthermore, the elimination of the random air leakage allows homes that utilize Icynene to maintain the same heating and cooling performance while potentially reducing the cost of HVAC equipment. In addition, since this technique is easy to implement the labor and materials normally required to achieve a properly sealed building envelope are no longer necessary.

After visiting the Icynene Insulation System booth and learning about this fabulous solution, I have decided to apply it as a base insulation in my prefab building and employ this concept to have a healthier, quieter, greener and more economical home. This can also help saving energy and resources.

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