Are Your Overhead Doors ASHRAE Compliant?

In an effort to keep an article about thermal detailing at overhead doors exciting (which may prove to be an impossible task) let’s start off with 2 main points:

1.       Unless you are completely familiar with ASHRAE 90.1 your overhead doors may not be in compliance with energy requirements.

2.       Most (if not all) insulation detailing around overhead doors consists of a thermal bridge which defeats the point of having an insulated door in the first place.

If I haven’t piqued your interest at this point, stop reading. I can assure you that this article is only going to get more technical and boring from here. However if you are concerned with best practices and being ASHRAE compliant, you may want to keep reading.

Let’s start with item #1, why your overhead doors may not be in compliance with energy requirements. You may believe that adhering to ASHRAE requirements is only a matter of using an insulated overhead door when in fact the standard is based on air leakage.

Here is an excerpt from an article that can explain it better than I can: ASHRAE 90.1-2013 requires that air leakage for rolling doors shall be determined in accordance with the National Fenestration Rating Council NFRC 400 guidelines. Doors must be labeled and independently tested to meet a maximum air leakage rate of 0.4 cfm/ft2., which is even more stringent than IECC. Requirements in ASHRAE 90.1-2010 and 2013 are similar. (source: https://continuingeducation.bnpmedia.com/course.php?L=510&C=1539)

As contractors and designers that are building “ASHRAE compliant” buildings, the responsibility is placed on us to confirm that the overhead doors we are using on our projects have the documentation to prove that they meet the air leakage requirements and have the thermal resistance required based on the chosen compliance path. Note that air leakage requirements vary depending on whether your doors are glazed or not. For clarification please refer to your project architect or energy modeling consultant. 

Moving on to item #2, chances are if you have designed or built an insulated concrete building the detailing around the overhead door has looked something like this:

Let’s reason on this for a moment. Per point #1 we need to ensure that the thermal resistance and air leakage rates are checked for maximum thermal efficiency. However the detailing around an insulated overhead door is incomplete meaning that even with those measures in place a huge thermal bridge is left.

How do we eliminate the thermal bridge? We would need to somehow return the insulation to the interior of the building and mount our thermally rated and non-air leaking overhead door on it. The detail would look something like this:

We call it OHLoc (OH for overhead); it’s the first of its kind thermal break specifically designed to maximize energy efficiency at overhead doors. The fact is that if you are not using OHLoc as part of your insulated concrete assembly you are leaving a large thermal gap in your insulated overhead doors. Keep in mind that cast in place OHLoc comes in 3 pieces, 2 for the jambs and 1 for the header. 

Some might question why bother with this detail, why not leave it as it is? If you are going to leave this thermal bridge, it kind of defeats the purpose of having an insulated door. Also, for someone who is designing, building or investing in an insulated concrete building; do you really want your insulated system to be incomplete?

To find out how we can improve energy efficiency with your insulated concrete project, please get in touch. We are passionate about helping to maximize energy efficiency with insulated concrete buildings. 

Every Minute Counts: How TigerLoc Fights Fire

As a father one of the most common scenarios that runs through my head is waking up to a house filled with smoke and flames. Of course in my scenario I am leaping through flames with my daughter protectively tucked in my arms, and my muscles are much more impressive in this daydream than they are in real life.  

In reality, I know this is a situation that I am unlikely to face in my life. I live in a townhouse protected by fire sprinklers with (very sensitive) smoke detectors that are interconnected meaning that when 1 goes off, the whole system goes off. So the chances of a fire getting to the point of real growth in our townhouse is minimal.

Of course if a fire did manage to overcome the fire suppression system we are protected by the timely response of the local fire department. As a graduate of the Justice Institute’s Career Fire Fighter program I have a pretty good awareness of what the women and men of the fire department go through to ensure that they are responsive for the public. This group is one of the most dedicated, focused and intelligent groups that I have had the pleasure of spending time with. So in reality, if the day does come where I’m trapped in our townhouse, it will probably be me in the arms of a firefighter being dragged out of the house.

The JK Thermal Solutions team might not be able to put out fires or perform structure fire rescues; but we can help prevent fires. It’s fairly easy to imagine that insulation used in insulated concrete assemblies is flammable and while many insulation products do use an inhibitor to resist the effects of fire on insulation; the resistance to fire from insulation is minimal.

By leaving your insulation exposed at the edge of openings in your concrete assembly, you are leaving a nice easy path for fire to find its way into your building assembly.

TigerLoc provides a fire resistive barrier to your insulation. When TigerLoc is exposed to an open flame, it self-extinguishes 10 seconds after the flame has been removed. At 1” thick, TigerLoc provides valuable time for occupants to escape a building before it spreads to other areas through the insulation layer. JK Thermal Solutions can also offer custom solutions if you require an even more fire resistant version of TigerLoc (contact us to find out more.)

When fire safety is a concern on your project, make sure that you include TigerLoc as a cap to your insulation on all your details. We hope that you don’t ever experience a fire in one of your buildings however if you do we’re happy that we can help slow down the spread of it.

The Case Against Wood

Unfortunately for the wonderfully versatile building material of wood, using it within insulated concrete assemblies is not appropriate.

Concrete bleeds water as it sets up, to consider using non-treated wood in a contained moist location would be disastrous due to the rotting of the wood that would occur.

It has been widely accepted that treated wood is the only application of wood that should be attempted in an insulated concrete assembly.

In case you are wondering, treated wood in your insulated concrete assembly would look like this:

What’s wrong with treated wood? If you are thinking we are coming up with reasons why treated wood is not acceptable to sell our thermal break (Tigerloc), you have it backwards. We came up with Tigerloc because we refused to use treated wood in our assemblies to begin with. Treated wood, while having some great uses in wet environments does not belong in insulated concrete assemblies. Here’s some reasons why:

1.       Treated wood doesn’t have an insulation value. By using treated wood as per the drawing shown above, your insulation layer is no longer continuous. The ASHRAE code referring to insulated concrete assemblies calls for continuous insulation. By allowing treated wood in your assembly, you don’t have a continuous insulation layer anymore so your project is not in compliance with energy codes. Your customers will not be happy to find out that the new insulated concrete building they have completed is not entirely energy compliant.

2.       Treated wood eats aluminum. Read up about it here: http://www.woodpreservation.ca/index.php/en/residential-use/faq under the question: is there any material I can't use with treated wood? 

 

The skeptics may say that yes there is an issue, it can be avoided with blue skin or proper spacing; however do you want to take the chance in allowing treated wood in your building and compromising your door and window frames?

 

3.       Oh and treated wood eats fasteners too. Kind of like the last point, you have to be very careful that you use the proper fasteners with treated wood otherwise the treated wood will react chemically with the fasteners and destroy them. Again, you can get around this however do you want to potentially have failed frame installation because of using the wrong screws?

As you can see treated wood, while being a versatile and handy construction product does not belong in insulated concrete assemblies. As a supplementary point, when you can consider using other forms of water resistant materials and woods in your projects as treated wood waste is not recyclable and ends up in a landfill. The landfill is also contaminated from treated wood as the chemicals within treated wood bleed into the ground. 

The next time you are designing or building an insulated concrete assembly, take a look at your concrete window and door details. If they are showing the window and door linings as being treated wood, consider changing the detail to Tigerloc. Using Tigerloc over treated wood provides a superior insulated concrete product, true compliance with energy codes and no risk of aluminum or fastener failure over time.

 

 

#Practicalgreen

There was a time when green construction was merely the talk of an idealist. I can remember the time before LEED showed up, before green construction practices were truly considered. Once these practices did start showing up in force it was met with skepticism and resistance (our human nature towards change is the subject of another discussion.)

Flash forward to present day and green construction is now sexy. Big time sexy. Everyone wants to say that they are building green, that their products are green. By getting us to build your building or by buying our product, essentially you are saving the earth from the catastrophic results of pollution and global warming. Kind of like how snacks put some random fact about an obscure vitamin on their packaging to convince your subconscious that the sugar laden breakfast cereal is actually somehow good for you.

Don’t get me wrong I am all for green construction practices and yes buying our thermal system lowers the effects of global warming (and did I mention you will be saving the earth?) That being said; I do want to point out that not all green construction practices are created equal. Of course within that argument is the complexities that designers and contractors will have to weigh versus their own moral compass.

For example take a look at our thermal break (Tigerloc) versus lining your window openings with treated wood. By using treated wood you are using the great renewable resource of wood so everyone is happy. Wood is automatically considered green, if you compare it to our thermal break made from a polymer the majority would rule that the treated wood is the more sustainable option. The fact is that in reality treated wood is not recyclable, it end up in a landfill. Treated wood eats aluminum and fasteners so your building assembly will fail sooner than if you used Tigerloc and treated wood doesn’t have the thermal resistance that Tigerloc does so your building will use more energy over its lifetime.

There is also the practicality associated with green construction. I heard a story from one of my clients about a building that was constructed to meet LEED Silver requirements. Months after the construction was complete and the building was open, they had to go around and re-glue all the mirrors in place with a regular PL adhesive as the low VOC product specified wasn’t strong enough to keep the mirrors in place.

As contractors and designers, the power is in our hands to limit the environmental impact of the buildings we are constructing. We need to ask ourselves the question however on what environmental responsibility really is. Is it meeting a prescriptive requirement that gives us just another notch on the belt or is it having the courage to engineer building systems that are truly environmentally compliant?

We challenge you to build and design your buildings to meet green construction standards not just in a prescriptive sense, we challenge you to build and design your buildings in a #practicalgreen sense. 

www.tigerloc.com

What is Tigerloc?

As we have now been on the market for a couple of solid months, it’s probably time to explain what we are up to. What is our structural thermal break that we have named Tigerloc? Tigerloc is a patent pending innovation for use in insulated concrete tilt-up and precast assemblies.

Tigerloc acts as a lining for openings in insulated concrete assemblies. This brings a few specific advantages:

1.       Since the insulation is never exposed at openings, no custom cutting of insulation is required to taper it at openings. In a rush on your project? We can ship Tigerloc quickly and with it all insulation can be straight sheets, no tapered cuts.

2.       Continuous insulation is guaranteed. The phrase continuous insulation is a buzz word in our industry because it relates to a highly energy efficient building. The trouble is that at details such as overhead doors, this requirement may be ignored and in reality, designers may never know that this has occurred. This is no longer the case. As long as you see openings lined with Tigerloc, you know you have a continuous insulation barrier in your assembly.

3.       Panel cracking is reduced. Without Tigerloc, contractors may be tempted to hold their insulation back from openings without breaking the connection between the separate wythes. A lot of details within our industry show some kind of break in the wythes under this application, but in all honesty this seldom happens.

4.       Window and door assemblies are meant to tie directly into Tigerloc. This is an advantage as Tigerloc is built from a polymer that accepts regular wood screws with no special prep while providing an R value. No more concrete drilling that is hazardous to health and slow. Further to this, your windows now line up with your insulation which is the way your building assembly was meant to be constructed.

STB with Insulation.JPG

 

The following makes Tigerloc the ideal choice for lining insulated concrete panel openings:

1.       When tested, window assemblies held up to 490 pounds per square foot before the screws tying the window into Tigerloc broke. This means that your window, door frame or screws will shear long before Tigerloc ever fails.

2.       Tigerloc has been designed to tie into the structural wythe only. It remains completely independent from the fascia wythe meaning the concrete wythes are completely free to expand and contract thermally independent of each other.

3.       The concrete anchors on Tigerloc have been designed to be flexible, allowing for thermal differentials between Tigerloc and concrete.

4.       Tigerloc won’t rot when left exposed to the water that make its way through the insulated concrete assembly.

5.       Tigerloc’s properties are similar to wood so it can be cut with regular wood working tools, and installed quickly and efficiently.

By changing your insulated concrete assembly from precut tapered to using our assembly we can save your project tens of thousands in project costs.

To summarize, Tigerloc saves you project material costs, speeds up installs of windows and doors, provides better building details and limits the health risk to your workers while guaranteeing a continuous insulation application.

Want to know more? Contact us. 

Who Cares About the Details?

After months of negotiating, re-pricing, cost savings, development permits, building permits, etc. you finally have the green light to start your project. As your supervisory crew begins setting up the site and the site prep contractors are beginning to mobilize, you have about a million tasks running through your mind. The goal is to keep the project moving ahead as quickly as possible while ensuring that the contracts you are negotiating with sub-contractors are in place in time and detailed enough that you maximize value for the project. 

With all of this going on, let's be honest about what starts to slip. It's the specific details...for anyone who relates to this post you know the feeling of speaking to an electrical trade that almost sounds like they are speaking a different language with the technical jargon they are using in the update they are providing. In the back of your mind you just want one assurance; that the building will have power on when it is required on the project schedule. 

So the next guilty admission, how many times have you been stung by one of those small details that you paid very little attention to in the heat of the project and are now stuck with trying to resolve? 

Focusing in on insulated tilt-up panels; once you have completed your order for the insulation package and ordered your connectors, you're done right? Time to move on to your next task? The next time you start looking at your insulated tilt-up package, consider the following issues with your insulation package: 

Continuous Insulation

ASHRAE 90.1 calls for a continuous insulation layer between the 2 concrete faces (wythes.) When you get to your overhead door detail or to other openings, resist the urge to hold your insulation 6" back from openings. The problems associated with this are huge as the 2 concrete wythes need to move independently of each other, if they don't the thinner fascia wythe will tell the story of what was done inside the panel. 

Custom Cut Insulation

This is a good option, even if it is expensive; with one exception. For those of you unfamiliar with this option, a piece of insulation is tapered down to 1" thick at openings maintaining full wythe separation and the continuous insulation requirement. The trouble with this installation method is that your thermal line between your window and your insulation is not continuous. Because you have to off set your window frame to tie into solid concrete and not insulation, a thermal bridge is created around window openings. The bottom line is that by using the custom cut insulation application you are paying a large expense for insulation that is going to dictate where you are able to put your window and door frames. 

The Tigerloc System

The Tigerloc system can eliminate the issues described above. The cost for our system versus having your insulation custom cut is lower so you can achieve project cost savings by using our system on your next insulated tilt-up project. 

Our system is easy and quick to install. It's strong enough to tie window and door frames into yet still maintains an R-value rating so your insulation layer is continuous and your window frame can align with the insulation layer. Our system ties into the structural wythe only, leaving the fascia wythe to move completely independently of the structural wythe, eliminating unsightly panel cracking associated with this issue. 

Next time you're awarded an insulated tilt-up project, contact us to take care of the details in your insulated panel assembly. We will work closely with you to make sure the insulation details are taken care of so you can focus on other project details that might sneak up on you. 

Why Insulated Tilt Panels?

Insulated Tilt Up

If you have ever seen a tilt-up project completed or even drove by a building that was being tilted, it is an interesting and exciting process. 

The tilt-up process is a relatively simple process, the walls are constructed on the ground and once complete they are tilted into place. Once the roof structure is installed the building is essentially done. 

For owners and developers that have had insulated tilt-up buildings constructed in the past, the decision to use this method of construction is obvious. A few of the reasons to select an insulated tilt-up method of construction on your next project are: 

Speed of Construction

The insulated tilt-up process is one of the fastest methods of constructing buildings of this size. As mentioned previously, once the walls have been constructed and tilted in place and the roof structure is on the building is essentially finished. For a developer that is interested in getting a building constructed and leased out as soon as possible, they should seriously consider the insulated tilt-up option. 

Green Building Practice

The insulated tilt-up method of construction is a great option for a building envelope that allows minimal heating or cooling loss. The fact that the insulation is installed inside of the concrete panel after the first concrete pour means that a continuous insulation layer can be provided, something that is required by ASHRAE 90.1. The continuous insulation layer with almost no thermal bridging means that the heating and cooling within the building is highly efficient. 

Low Maintenance

The insulated concrete tilt-up panel has a concrete layer on both the outside and inside face. The concrete surface is highly resistant to damage and scratches and marks on the wall are relatively easy to repair. For a warehouse application, an insulated tilt-up project will provide the longest lasting application and offer the most mixed use options. 

 

Tilt-up offers a variety of other advantages including cost savings and fire resistance. The practice of tilt-up is rumored to date back as far as Egyptian times and with the advances we are currently seeing in insulated tilt-up technology, the process is not going away soon. 

Insulated tilt-up panels for homes is another use of tilt-up panels which is beginning to gain some traction. If you are curious to learn more, I recommend you take a look at www.nzbuilders.com to get an idea of what a home created from insulated tilt-up panels can look like. 

The Tigerloc system saves cost on any insulated tilt-up by removing the need to purchase or custom cut insulation to a tapered edge at openings. This can easily result in a $10,000 to $15,000 savings on your next insulated tilt-up project. 

For more information or to order our system, please use our contact us page to get in touch.