Not Your Father's Foam Advances in construction Foam Make It Temperature-Proof, Soundproof and Waterproof

The building envelope, as many already know, is a term used to describe the six sides of a building which "envelop" the building (if the building were a perfect cube). The underlying goal of excellent construction is to makethe building waterproof, soundproof, air-proof, pressure-proof, and temperature-proof.

Once this has been accomplished, mechanical systems are installed to allow for regulating the ventilation and air quality of a building. Thus, buildings can be operated in a regulated, controllable fashion. By controlling the air quality, we begin to achieve more efficient and comfortable buildings. However, approaching this goal in new construction is done at significant expense and difficulty. This is even moredifficult when trying to renovate an existing structure.

This article concerns a class of materials which, in my mind, take us closer to the goals associated with 21st century building than any single group available on the market. I am referring to multi-component coating systems: the most common among this class are foam insulations and fast-set spray polyurea floor and foundation coatings.

A Seamless Envelope

The effect of these materials is no less than to achieve a seamless envelope around all six sides of the building structure that has the ability (per the specifications of the architect/designer) to be waterproof, soundproof, air-proof, pressure-proof, and temperature-proof. In short, this class of materials gives us the ability, in one step, to bring us much, much closer to achieving our construction goals.

Over the course the last half century,foam has been used as a specialty product in the building industry and during that time it has been "altered and tinkered with" to bring it to its current state as a safer, more effective alternative to other insulators (e.g., fiberglass and cellulose), says Gene Marckini, a Massachusetts licensed professional chemical engineer and one of the founders of Green Star Foam of Waltham, Massachusetts.


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