Spray Foam Insulates and Provides Energy Efficiency to Retired Baseball Player’s Home
By Juan Sagarbarria
We cannot reveal the identity of the owner of the home. What we do know about this individual is that he’s a former professional, World-Series-winning baseball player, enjoys the views and weather of the state of Colorado, and appreciates energy efficiency in his abode. How do we know this? He elected to have his primary Boulder residence—while being constructed— exceed already strict energy standards and attain top-of-the-line home performance via cutting-edge products, such as spray polyurethane foam.
Moreover, the spray foam insulation application was an important component of a bigger picture that the General Contractor in charge of the home’s construction, Hammerwell Incorporated had in mind. Hammerwell was working to achieve a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score of -2 in this newly built home of 6,672 square feet (91,466 volume of conditioned space). The building jurisdiction falls in Boulder County and, thus, is subject to Boulder County BuildSmart regulations, which delineate
a requirement for a HERS score of 0.
“Applying foam to the home was driven by the energy requirements for the home,” says Hammerwell’s owner Drew Lindsay. “Boulder County adopted the BuildSmart program, which entails strict energy requirements as it relates to energy efficiency, particularly in sizable homes such as this one. We needed to get the highest R-value that we could in all of the wall and roof assemblies.”
A sizable home called for a sizable application. Consider the sheer magnitude of the SPF install:
Five inches of 2 lb. closed-cell foam to all exterior walls, eight inches of 2 lb. closed-cell to the ceilings, and one-to-three inches of 1.7 lb. closed-cell to below-grade foundation walls and rim joists. This project amassed a total spray area of 59,100 board feet. Lindsay added that the foam insulation’s thermal properties and air-barrier capabilities exponentially reduce energy costs for the home and also provide a quieter indoor environment.
The insulation package installation was handled by highly reputable contractor Titan Applicators. They utilized two different types of foam for this custom home: Profoam’s ProSeal 1.7 lb. closed-cell and Lapolla’s FL-2000-4G 2 lb. closed-cell spray foam. Titan’s owner Tony Bock notes that the use of two foams was slightly uncharacteristic of their firm because they understand the value in being brand specific. Service and loyalty is key in choosing a supplier, learning the material, and becoming competent with it. That said, they’ve also realized the value in increasing their product knowledge within the industry and understanding the benefits of each type of foam in certain applications, and doing so has bolstered their sales confidence and fashioned a repertoire of foam that meets their clients’ needs and budgets.
“As an ecologically-friendly and energy-efficient custom home builder, Hammerwell’s choice of insulation is of the utmost importance and they rightfully have high expectations for Titan Applicators,” explains Tony Bock, owner of Titan Applicators. “It isn’t easy to achieve a HERS score of -2 in a home that is nearly 7,000 square feet in size as there are often times unforeseen situations and/or changes occur during construction that affect the score. Nonetheless, we installed the foam working towards this goal. Spray foam provides superior R-values that reduce energy consumption, and it also creates a seamless membrane between the inner and outer walls, improves indoor air quality, and increases structural strength. It’s worth noting that we had a mid-inspection HERS score produced before the crawl space rim joists and drywall were completed, and the HERS rater that conducted the inspection indicated that he was confident Hammerwell was on track to achieve the -2 rating.”
Titan sent a four-man crew to the home. Their rig, which was custom-built by Profoam Corporation, was equipped with a Revolution Machinery 14000 series pneumatic proportioner, 200 feet of hose, and a Polyurethane Machinery Corporation (PMC) AP-2 gun.
Prep work was considerable as masking off the home’s features for overspray protection alone took an entire day. “It took eight hours to mask off 72 doors, windows, and skylights along with two fireplaces, ductwork, and all exterior outlet features,” notes Bock. “Nonetheless, having the entire job fully prepared allows the application process to go much more efficiently.”
Then, the application began. Using scaffolding, the crew was able to apply foam to the ceiling and the higher areas of the exterior walls with ease. It was the below grade application that was somewhat tricky. Bock describes the scenario:
“The thermal envelope of the home includes a finished basement and two conditioned crawl spaces. Due to its design, the crawl spaces are on two different elevations. One falls below the basement level, which we access through the floor, and the other lays adjacent to it, which we access through the wall. We installed three inches of foam in the crawl space walls and rim joists to fully encapsulate them. The only other portion that is a below-grade application is the basement and we applied three inches of foam in its walls and rim joists, as well.”
To ensure proper job site ventilation, the Titan crew used portable ventilation fans, which exhaust SPF chemicals and particles to a safe and open environment outside. In addition to ventilation, the crew used a combination of full-faced supplied air respirators with portable breathing air compressors, full-faced cartridge masks, full body suits, and gloves at all times during spraying.
The installation of foam provided the following R-values for each assembly: R-39 on the exterior walls, R-19 on the below-grade foundation walls and rim joists, and R-55 on the ceilings. The insulation package for the two-by-six exterior wall also consisted of the installation of a ZIP System®, which consists of one-inch structural sheathing panels that include a continuous polyiso insulation. The ZIP System limits thermal bridging and provides an R-6 value. The panels were installed to the exterior walls between the studs. The foam, providing an R-33, was installed onto the panels and between the studs to fill each cavity.
The Titan crew completed the application in six days, four days ahead of their stipulated 10-day deadline. A blower door test was performed shortly after the foam installation to test the air tightness of the home, and just as expected, the results showed that the home had a continuous, superb air barrier. The crew subsequently received positive feedback for their application from the homeowner, who stressed the importance of having an energy-efficient and comfortable home to live in, “which is why he chose Hammerwell and why Hammerwell chose spray foam insulation,” notes Bock.
Aside from the foam application, there were other components added to achieve the HERS rating of -2. Hammerwell incorporated—no pun intended —high-performance windows, a geothermal loop field for the heating system of the house, and a 17.1-kilowatt photovoltaic system installed to the roof to absorb solar power.
“Adding these components limits the environmental impact to the owner’s [home] development,” says Lindsay. “Not to mention, it allows him to build the home that he wanted within the energy parameters that this jurisdiction requires.” •
Photos courtesy of Tyler Simpson Photography
Click here to read about another spray foam project completed by Titan Applicators.