Green has multiple meanings for noted actor, director, producer, and conservationist Ed Begley Jr. It of course signifies his long-standing commitment to environmentalism and “Green” causes. It also; however, represents the money that he has saved through his commitment to conservation. Both meanings combined during the construction of his new 4,000 square-foot home, built from the ground up to the exacting standards of the LEED Platinum code. Spray polyurethane foam played a large role in this green project. As Begley explains, “One of the biggest [LEED] point values…is to have the tightest envelope… And you do that by having the thickest walls possible and good insulation.”
The insulation in question was supplied by Icynene and consisted of both open- and closed-cell systems.
Begley continues, “I’m going to save thousands of dollars a year in electrical costs and natural gas costs because of the insulation.”
LEEDING THE WAY
Long a proponent of environmental causes, Begley is a rare exception in Hollywood where appearance typically trumps substance. He actually practices what he preaches. A champion of recycling and solar power, Begley xeriscaped his yard using drought-tolerant native plants long before the severe California drought made it fashionable to do so. A well-known sight around local roads in his electric cars since the technology first became available; Begley even famously rode his bike to the 2015 and 2016 Academy Awards.
Therefore, when the Begley family decided to move to a new, larger home, up-grading from 1,600 square feet (“tiny by Hollywood standards, but a mansion by world standards,” he says) to 4,000 square feet, to accommodate life with a teenage daughter (the old house had one bathroom), Begley seized the opportunity to build green from the “ground-up.”
Once a suitable lot was found, Begley was able to build a house to his exact specifications – and, not surprisingly, his dream house qualifies “for LEED Platinum” certification.
Although voluntary and market-driven, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED certification process is highly detailed and involved. LEED Platinum is the highest certification available. To meet LEED Platinum requirements, a home must rate at least 90 points in a 136-point system. Points are offered in eight categories: Innovation and Design (11 points); Location and Linkages (10 points); Sustainable Sites (22 points); Water Efficiency (15 points); Energy and Atmosphere (38 points); Materials and Resources (16 points); Indoor Air Quality (21 points); and Awareness and Education (3 points). To meet these qualifications in the building of his new home, Begley is using energy-efficient, green, or recycled products wherever possible.
As he explains the process, “LEED is an acronym: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and it looks at everything. All the properties of the home. If you have solar panels. Do you have a gray water system? Do you have rainwater? Do you have energy-efficient lighting? Good insulation? Everything. And we did it all. And we’re going to get LEED Platinum. And one of the biggest point values, correctly, fairly, is for the envelope of the house. And how do you get the tightest envelope? By having the thickest walls possible. And, most importantly, by putting good insulation in there. So, you look at R-value – the way it’s rated. You look at how it’s already performed in here – sound abatement and insulation. There’s no heat or cool on in this house during this construction process. It’s always a pleasant temperature in here because of the Icynene foam.”
Obviously, a fan of SPF, Begley is no stranger to cutting-edge technologies. “I tried cellulose insulation in the ‘80s,” he says. Then, he followed that with “recycled denim. But I tried foam on a renovation project in 2009 and was impressed by the way foam seals,” he explains. Which is why he knew it was the answer for his new house when he heard about Icynene’s spray foam from his contractor.
PLATINUM QUALITY SERVICE
At first, the job was only a “roof” insulation project. But, as Begley recounts, “This is how good the Icynene dealer was to work with. They said, ‘Why don’t you put it in in the interior walls too?’ I said, ‘Why would I need the interior walls? I want to keep the heat and cool at bay from the outside.’ He said, ‘No. It’ll have better sound abatement qualities within your home.’ I said, ‘That’s fantastic. Let’s put it in.’ We put it in and right away it became clear that it’s quiet in every room.”
And just who were these helpful Icynene folks?
David James and Chad Sanchez of Insulate SB, Inc. were the contractors in charge of the Begley project, along with Icynene’s Bill Clark. The men recount the three days of spray work “On Begley Street.”
An active construction site, the house was a work-in-progress when the Insulate SB crew arrived for the spray polyurethane foam install. For this reason, signage was paramount. “Insulate SB, Inc. takes safety very seriously. We use red “Do Not Enter” tape at all entrances, to mark off not only the work areas, but also the whole house,” James and Sanchez state. Continuing, “We also posted orange signs that say, ‘Do Not Enter,’ and we have a space on the sign, so we can write the date and time that it is safe to re-enter the home. We were very fortunate not to have any trades on site while we were installing the spray foam, but we always take the same safety measures.”
Signs posted, the crew suited up in Tyvek suits and rubber gloves. “We used supplied air for the installers that were within 50 feet of the application area and all other installers / helpers that were outside of the 50-foot spray area wore filtered full-face masks, as well as Tyvek suits and gloves. This is just standard protocol for all of our foam crews.”
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: OPEN- AND CLOSED-CELL
“We used two foam rigs to complete this project – our smaller rig is a single proportioner, Graco E30I with a Graco Fusion AP gun and 300 feet of heated hose. Our larger rig is a dual proportioner, E30 with two Graco Fusion AP guns – one hose is 250 feet, and the other is 300 heated feet to give us versatility for longer distances. Dual proportioners give us the ability to spray two different types of foam – open- and closed-cell at the same time without having to switch out materials.”
Over the course of three days the crew installed:
R-38 Icynene Classic Open-Cell Spray foam to the underside of roof sheeting– 2,799 SQFT *Covered with No Burn Ignition Barrier over exposed accessible spray foam in attic area – 935 SQFT
R-20 Icynene Classic Open-Cell Spray Foam to the underside of terrace roof sheeting – 266 SQFT
R-20 Icynene Classic Open-Cell Spray Foam to the exterior walls, scarfed flush at single stud 2×6 walls – 4,245 SQFT
R-20 Icynene Classic Open-Cell Spray Foam between first and second floors – 2,312 SQFT
R-20 Icynene Classic Open-Cell Spray Foam to the garage ceiling – 232 SQFT
R-15 Icynene Classic Open-Cell Spray Foam to the interior walls – 4,050 SQFT
R-30 Icynene MD-C-200v2 Closed-Cell Spray Foam between floor joist at crawl space – 1477 SQFT
R-13 Icynene MD-C-200v2 Closed-Cell Spray Foam between 2×4 basement walls – 544 SQFT
Icynene’s Classic open-cell spray foam insulation features a soft, flexible composition that will maintain an air-seal – even after seasonal expansion and contraction of the building assembly. With an aged thermal resistance of 3.7 per inch and a core density of 0.5 pounds, it is air impermeable, but vapor permeable. When covered with the No Burn Ignition Barrier (as in this application), the assembly becomes an approved ignition barrier. Providing yields of 16,000 to 20,000 board feet, Icynene’s Classic SPF adheres to a broad range of substrates and is available in one formulation, with no need for winter or summer blends. Further, it meets the prerequisites of and may qualify towards the following LEED for Homes points: EAC1.1: Optimizing Energy Performance, EAC1.2: Optimizing Energy Performance, EAC3: Air Infiltration, and MRC2: Environmentally Preferable Products.
The closed-cell foam used in this application, Icynene’s MD-C-200, is a rigid, medium-density foam that expands up to 40 times from its liquid state. MD-C-200 has an aged thermal resistance of 6.6 per inch and a core density of 2.2 pounds. It has been evaluated by the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) and is officially listed as an air barrier material. It is also a Class II vapor retarder at 1.5-inches thick. Further, it meets the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) criteria for resisting water absorption and is compliant with California’s Department of Public Health’s EHLB v1.1-2010 Emissions Specification Section 0135. The closed-cell foam also meets prerequisites for and may contribute toward the following LEED for Homes points: EAC1.1: Optimizing Energy Performance, EAC1.2: Optimizing Energy Performance, EAC2: Insulation, EAC3: Air Infiltration, and MRC2: Environmentally Preferable Products. It is also available in a single formulation, making winter and summer blends obsolete.
As Begley explains the foam in the walls is 12 inches to 14 inches thick and provides “incredible insulation. It really gets in there and expands a bit to really get every crack and crevice. It’s a miracle the way it works. You spray it in and it expands a bit to go into every tiny pinhole that you can imagine. It’s very efficient.”
A SPRAY FOAM SUCCESS
When asked, Begley says without hesitation, “I would use and recommend Icynene [foam] for use anywhere.” He continues, “If I can only do one thing to cut costs in my home, I would put in Icynene foam. That would lower my utility bills more than any other one thing that I could do. More bang for your buck than anything.”
Talk about going green to save green.