When asking the question, what is continuous insulation, consider wrapping yourself in a blanket. The blanket creates a continuous barrier around you that prevents the thermal energy created by your body from flowing directly out into the atmosphere.
Continuous insulation, also known as CI, performs the same function for buildings. A CI system is designed to eliminate the flow of thermal energy in and out of the exterior building envelope. When thermal energy travels through the exterior of a building, it is called thermal bridging. Several types of CI systems can be used to remove energy loss and thermal bridging.
CI is defined by ASHRAE 90.1 as “insulation that is continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings. It is installed on the interior, exterior, or is integral to any opaque surface of the building envelope.” The ASHRAE 90.1 (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Standard remains a benchmark for commercial building energy codes in the United States.
What types of continuous insulation are commonly used?
When designing a building, owners and developers take into consideration the best insulation and energy savings options available for their projects. Each form of CI has pros and cons. Looking at the R-value and energy guidelines your building must meet, along with factors like material and labor costs, can help you gauge the best choice of insulation for your building project.
Some common types of continuous insulation include:
- Polyisocyanurate (polyiso) – Polyiso is a type of thermosetting plastic foam. Its closed cells contain a gas that has low conductivity. Polyiso CI can take the form of spray-on foam, rigid foam boards, or laminated insulation panels.
- Mineral Wool – This refers to two types of insulating fibers that are man-made. One type of mineral wool is rock wool. Rock wool consists of fibers spun from minerals like basalt. Slag wool is another type of material commonly used in CI systems. Slag wool is made from fibers spun from the waste materials that form on the surface of molten metal.
- Spray Foam – Spray foam can be made from polyiso and other materials. The liquid foam is combined with a foaming agent before being sprayed onto the building’s surface. One reason to choose spray foam is that it easily conforms to the surface upon which it is sprayed. However, it does require that installers have special certifications and equipment.
How does continuous insulation differ from standard insulation?
Standard insulation is installed between the framing studs, whether steel or wood. CI is installed on the outside of the framing to provide an uninterrupted thermal barrier. CI systems can also act as an air, vapor, and weather-resistive barrier (WRB) for a building, providing a 3 in 1 building envelope solution.
When should you use continuous insulation?
CI works to improve a building’s energy efficiency through the elimination of thermal bridging. The improvement in energy efficiency will directly correlate with decreased energy costs to heat and cool the building, lowering monthly operating costs. CI systems ensure your building project meets energy efficiency standards and building codes such as ASHRAE 90.1.
Unsure what the best continuous insulation solution is for your commercial building?
The SMARTci Difference
Determining what is an effective CI solution for your commercial building can be a tough decision. The SMARTci™ team of experts is here to help you find a best practice CI solution for your commercial building.
Our SMARTci systems can install 4x faster than traditional systems which can save you time on building, as well as material costs. The SMARTci GreenGirt composite metal hybrid (CMH) z-girt sub-frame components work well with CI material to create a thermal break. These CI components can reach up to 98% thermal efficiency. The GreenGirt z-girt sub-framing components can also be used with all three of the CI types discussed above.
SMARTci Systems offer several ci systems, including the 3 in 1, 2.5 in 1, 2 in 1, and 1 in 1 GreenGirt®. These systems eliminate thermal bridging and provide best practices for buildings with a CI system.
Below are a few of the SMARTci Systems we off that can help meet your CI needs:
- SMARTci™ 3 in 1
- SMARTci™5 in 1
- SMARTci™ 2 in 1
- SMARTci™ GreenGirt
- SMARTci™ GreenGirt clip
- SMARTci™ Trim
- SMARTci™ Roof
- SMARTci™ Delta
Find an A2P Representative in your area for more information about our SMARTci™ and GreenGirt® sub-frame systems.
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