Discussions among GBA readers about Icynene spray-foam insulation products have tended to be vigorous.
Some of the conversations hinge on concerns about possible health problems arising from the use of polyurethane spray foams, including those in the Icynene lineup, even though these products can offer a superior combination of thermal resistance, airtightness, and vapor permeability. There also has been debate (and puzzlement) over Icynene Inc.’s recommendations for thin applications of its spray foam that, if followed, make the product more cost-effective to use but, as GBA’s Martin Holladay pointed out in March of last year, can result in applications that are less than minimum code requirements.
In any case, polyurethane spray foam is still popular, and it likely would take proof, or at least strong evidence, that whatever potential hazards it might present clearly outweigh its performance benefits. The GBA encyclopedia discusses the advantages and disadvantages of spray polyurethane foam, as well as some of the controversies surrounding its use. And in recent days, Icynene MD-C-200, a medium-density closed-cell polyurethane spray foam, was added to the National Green Building Standard’s “Green Approved” list of insulation products, the fourth Icynene spray foam to become eligible for points under the NGBS green-rating certification system for homebuilders.
MD-C-200, whose application is eligible for as many as 47 points, joins Icynene LD-R-50 (eligible for up to 53 points), a light-density open-cell foam whose petroleum-based chemicals are partially replaced by castor oil; Icynene LD-C-50 (up to 36 points), another light-density open-cell foam; and Icynene MD-R-200 (up to 36 points), another medium-density foam.
Other insulation products in the NGBS “Green Approved” bracket include four Demilec polyurethane spray foams (eligible for 30 to 41 points, depending on the product); a selection of Dow Chemical’s Great Stuff foam sealants (up to 32 points), Styrofoam structural insulated sheathing (up to 32 points), and Styrofoam extruded polystyrene and polyisocyanurate insulation board (up to 35 points); and Owens Corning fiberglass batts, rolls, and loose fill (up to 10 points).
Ironically, cellulose insulation does not appear on the NGBS list of approved insulation products.
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MC-C 200 or MD-C 200 or MD-R-200?
I am a designer and builder in NH and have used a good deal of spray foam over the years. I recently used a 2 pound medium density spray foam called MD-R 200 by Icynene. It is a water blown foam and is an r-5.2/inch product with the very low global warming potential (GWP) of 1. David White recently published an excellent spreadsheet that helps folks get a handle on the GWP of various insulation products in EBN. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't studied it. The MD R 200 qualifies as a LEED low emissivity material (LEM) and is approved by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) It is a semi-permeable material with a perm of 1.3 for 3" of foam.
I am unaware that Icynene makes anything called MC-C 200. This may be a typo. They do make a polyurethane spray foam called MD-C 200. This is a standard polyurethane high density foam. It has a global warming potential of 1300. It doesn't qualify for CHPS or LEED LEM status. I can't think of any reason that it should be considered a "green material" by any body interested in responsible design and construction practices, especially now that the MD-R product is now available.
If the certification was for the MD-R-200 Icynene, I applaud it! What a great product, and the typo is understood (I'm sure you can find some in this letter!) If the certification was for MD-C 200 (and also a typo) I would be very disappointed by the certifying agency, and encourage you to dig deeper to learn more about NGBS benchmarks. An article comparing different types of foams would also be of interest. If MC-C 200 is a product I don't know about I'd love to hear more. GWP? LEED LEM status? CHPS? Perm rating? R value? Water Blown? Do tell. Finding high performing foam with low environmental impact is difficult and I'm grateful that Icynene is making the MD-R 200 product.
Thanks for writing the article.
PS You can download the cut sheets on the MD-R 200 here http://www.icynene.com/icynene-md-r-200/
Thanks very much for the feedback. That was indeed a typo in the subhead of the article, and it is now corrected. The newly NGBS "Green Approved" Icynene product is in fact MD-C-200. Its spec sheet can be found here:
And its listing on the NGBS website can be found here: http://www.greenapprovedproducts.com/FindProducts.aspx
Richard. Typos I understand.
Richard. Typos I understand. MD-C 200? Not so much! Disappointed. Why would they rate MD-C 200 and not MD-R 200 or cellulose? Wow. I have the spec sheet on MD-C-200. Thanks.
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