expanded polystyrene

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Curbside Recycling for Polystyrene Foam

A Nova Scotia community launches the province's first recycling program specifically for rigid foam

Posted on Dec 8 2014 by Scott Gibson

In a first for the province of Nova Scotia, a waste recycling agency has launched a curbside recycling program for expanded polystyrene (EPSExpanded polystyrene. Type of rigid foam insulation that, unlike extruded polystyrene (XPS), does not contain ozone-depleting HCFCs. EPS frequently has a high recycled content. Its vapor permeability is higher and its R-value lower than XPS insulation. EPS insulation is classified by type: Type I is lowest in density and strength and Type X is highest.) foam, turning waste foam into blocks of condensed material that can be sold to manufacturers and turned into new products.

Two years in the making, the program got off the ground in mid-November, according to an article in the The Kings County Advertiser and Register.


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A German Deep-Energy Retrofit

In Berlin, expanded polystyrene (EPS) is the insulation of choice for exterior insulation retrofit projects

Posted on Jan 7 2014 by Andrew Dey

I recently visited a job site on the outskirts of Berlin that had previously caught my eye. Although the buildings were shrouded in the usual scaffolding and screening, I had noticed while biking by that the work involved “energetische sanierung,” or energy retrofitting.


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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Andrew Dey

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In Cold Climates, R-5 Foam Beats R-6

Although extruded polystyrene (XPS) is rated at R-5 per inch, it performs better than R-6 polyiso in cold temperatures

Posted on Dec 13 2013 by Martin Holladay

Researchers have known for years that most types of insulation — including fiberglass batts, extruded polystyrene (XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation.), and expanded polystyrene (EPSExpanded polystyrene. Type of rigid foam insulation that, unlike extruded polystyrene (XPS), does not contain ozone-depleting HCFCs. EPS frequently has a high recycled content. Its vapor permeability is higher and its R-value lower than XPS insulation. EPS insulation is classified by type: Type I is lowest in density and strength and Type X is highest.) — perform better at low temperatures than high temperatures. The phenomenon was described by Chris Schumacher, an engineer and researcher at Building Science Corporation, at a conference in 2011: “If you measure the R-value of an R-13 fiberglass batt, you’ll get different results at different outdoor temperatures. If the outdoor temperature rises, the R-value goes down.


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Image Credits:

  1. Fine Homebuilding
  2. Building Science Corporation
  3. Achilles Karagiozes — Owens Corning
  4. Roxul

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Do We Really Need 12 Inches of Foam Under Our Slab?

A last-minute attempt to apply value engineering to our Passivhaus design

Posted on Jan 14 2013 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the 21st article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]


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Image Credits:

  1. Matthew Bradburn - Brooklyn House blog

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How to Install Rigid Foam Sheathing

What you need to know to install polyisocyanurate, XPS, or EPS on the outside of your walls

Posted on Sep 30 2011 by Martin Holladay

UPDATED on July 20, 2015

What’s the best way to install foam insulation on the outside of a wall?

Although GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com has published many articles and videos on the topic, we continue to receive frequent questions from readers asking how to install rigid foam sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. on exterior walls — so it’s time to provide a primer on the topic.


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Image Credits:

  1. Rob Wotzak

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How Much Insulation is Needed?

Posted on Jul 15 2009 by Alex Wilson

Standard residential construction in much of the country is 2x4 framing with fiberglass insulation, achieving a paltry R-10 or so in the walls. If insulation is installed at all on the foundation walls, it’s rarely more than an inch thick, and insulation is almost never put under slabs. In Vermont, we typically do a lot better. Act 250, enacted nearly four decades ago, required developers to improve energy performance and that led to a widespread switch to 2x6 framing in home building.


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