Foam Insulation May Not Belong in Green Buildings

January 9, 2013 - A recent article in Treehugger addresses the controversial issue of whether plastic foam insulation should be used in green buildings. There are different views on the issue, with some pointing out that foam insulation has a high R value per inch and when installed correctly, seals well and contributes to energy efficiency.

However, architect Ken Levenson tells Treehugger why he doesn’t think foam insulation belongs in green buildings. He has come up with 13 ways that foam has failed. Levenson sells insulating products at High Performance Building Supply, so some might say he is biased. But his reasons are hard to argue with. They include:

  1. Dangerous toxic ingredients
  2. Irredeemable global warming potential
  3. Unacceptably high fire hazard
  4. Hypersensitive on-site manufacturing
  5. Intolerant of adverse job site conditions
  6. Unhealthy off-gassing
  7. Counterproductive vapor retarder/barrier
  8. Terribly hygrophobic
  9. Weak and unpredictable air control
  10. Inflexible and prone to cracking
  11. Excessive shrinkage
  12. Difficult to identify and repair air leaks
  13. Degrading thermal insulation values

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