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.