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Architect Magazine Features OX-IS in 3 Reasons to Explore Continuous Insulation

3 Reasons to Explore Continuous Insulation

It’s time this under-loved energy-saving wonder received the credit it deserves.

Is it a silver bullet in cutting home energy costs? It comes close if it isn’t. Just consider all the ways this sometimes shunned and overlooked building component is changing home design and construction. For example:

  • Chapter 4 of the 2018 International Building Code (2018 IBC R402.1.2) makes clear the code community’s ringing endorsement.
  • Two vast and remarkably different homebuilding markets—California and Canada—have codified it by law into all future building practice.
  • It’s revitalized 2×4 framing by making it once again relevant and practical in a world of net-zero energy standards .
  • Much smaller, far less costly HVAC systems are now routinely spec’d.
  • Alternative energy sources like solar are finally viable because of the R-value punch of exterior wall assemblies.

We’re talking about continuous insulation. Today, continuous insulation is helping differentiate home energy performance across homes of all sizes, types, and budgets. Yet some architects resist the growing weight of evidence. They argue the incremental cost of continuous insulation outweighs all other considerations, including the environment.

To which veteran residential energy conservation expert Charlie Devine replies: “Don’t drop a dollar to pick up a dime.”

48% Savings

Devine is the national accounts and energy adviser to OX Engineered Products, a leading U.S. building product manufacturer. Devine believes continuous insulation’s clear advantages are shortchanged by misleading short-term thinking.

“People talk about programmable thermostats, high-efficiency HVAC systems, and LED light bulbs,” Devine says. “Where can we really squeeze energy demand out of a house? Continuous insulation is the answer. In my state, Minnesota, homes built with a single inch of continuous insulation have reduced heating costs by as much as 48 percent.”

2×4 vs. 2×6

That’s just the beginning. Take 2×4 framing. Not so long ago, the framing standard looked like it might fade away with the rise of 2×6 framing. Not so fast, Devine says.

“It’s true the deeper 2×6 cavity and fewer studs helps improve energy performance. CI levels the playing field for 2×4 builders. If it’s cheaper to add an inch of CI than to spec 2×6 framing, you can bet homebuilders are going to do it,” he says.

West Coast Foreshadowing

In California, the net-zero energy focus of Title 24, with its mandated solar photovoltaic panels, is making headlines. Why should that bother architects in Minnesota, Missouri, or Maryland? “California foreshadows things to come everywhere,” Devine says.

“Building a Title 24 house doesn’t make sense without CI. It’s the only affordable way to meet code,” he says. Adding R-6 structural sheathing like OX-IS to the exterior wall still makes standard cladding standard possible, he says.

Why Wait?

Residential designers in the Midwest aren’t. Devine says top builders in Nebraska and Iowa are all-in on CI. They understand the true cost of OSB isn’t the panel. It’s labor, housewrap, and trips around the house. Structural insulated sheathing like OX-IS simplifies in ways no OSB panel can.

Devine believes we’ll soon look back on CI and wonder: “What took them so long?”

 

Builder Magazine Features OX-IS as a Solution to 2×6 Constrution

2X4 FRAMING, 2.0

Who needs 2x6s? It’s easier than ever to meet energy code with 2×4 construction.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of 2×4 exterior wall construction are greatly exaggerated.

In fact, the outlook for 2×4 residential construction has never been brighter in spite of tough R-20 exterior wall code standards.

That’s good news to scores of local, regional and national home builders that swear by 2×4 construction. Not so long ago, many home builders feared they would be forced to scrap building plans and well-established work flows in favor of 2×6 exterior wall construction.

What changed? How did 2×4 construction go from intensive care to viability in many markets?

Say thanks to next-generation insulated structural sheathing. This game-changing framing advance rewrites the rules of what is possible from 2×4 framing. Overnight, home builders now have a strategy that can save them from a needless and difficult 2×6 framing transition.

Those observations and others are offered by Lee Bybee, a trained architect, MBA, and director of national accounts for OX Engineered Products, a leading U.S. manufacturer of wall system products.

“Most of the country has converted to R-20 exterior wall assembly,” says Bybee. “However there’s about 50% of the country that still builds with 2×4 construction.”

Why Transition?

Bybee says the push for R-20 compliance nationwide means 2×4 builders and component manufacturers must find a way to preserve their familiar 2×4 construction workflow without sacrificing the latest energy code standards.

Is that even possible?

Absolutely, reports Bybee. In fact, a surprising number of production builders are already doing just that or, more surprisingly, actively considering switching back to 2×4 studs from 2x6s.

Code-Compliant 2×4 Construction

“National and regional production builders realize they don’t have to sacrifice budgets and margins on 2×6 construction. The key is using structural continuous insulated sheathing instead of OSB to meet energy code,” says Bybee.

For example, Bybee’s company manufacturers a structural continuous insulated sheathing product called OX-IS. OX-IS outperforms OSB R-value performance by up to 1,100%, helping make “the wall cavity question” largely irrelevant, says Bybee. OX-IS also performs four-wall assembly functions in a single pass around the home – structural support, water and air barrier, and insulation (up to R-6). OX-IS sheathing is also just a third of the weight of OSB, a huge transportation advantage for component manufacturers.

2×4 2.0

Bybee says his company has relationships with most of the Top-10 national builders on code-compliant 2×4 construction. One builder is even looking to transition back over to 2×4. “We work with a lot of regional guys too,” Bybee adds.

Call it 2×4 2.0. For production-minded home builders and component manufacturers, the way forward with code-compliant 2×4 construction never looked more promising or profitable.

To learn more about energy code-compliant 2×4 construction with next-generation insulated structural sheathing, visit www.oxep.com

OX-IS Now Backed By A 30-Year Limited System Warranty

Our OX-IS structural insulation is now backed by a 30-year Limited System Warranty. The structural insulated sheathing system on your building can significantly impact energy efficiency, comfort and all around building quality. Our 4-in-1 OX-IS product, is built to protect your home from the elements while keeping the comfort and savings in.

In order to comply with the warranty the user must follow our new OX-IS Installation Instructions and use our new OX Seam Tape and Arctic Flash Flashing Tape on all seams and openings. Highlights of this new warranty include:

  • OX-IS™ will maintain its R-Value within 10% of its stated value
  • Shall perform as a WRB (Water Resistive Barrier)
  • Shall perform as an Air Barrier

Additional product warranties and installation instructions are being developed and will be available in the coming months.

Ox Seam Tape Now Available

Ox Seam Tape is now available for use on select Ox Building products. Ox seam tape is hand tearable seam tape, coated with a highly aggressive acrylic pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) designed for use a a closure system and vapor seal on all interior and exterior sheathing materials. Ox Seam Tape exceeds most building code requirements and can be used for new construction as well as repair on all vapor barrier materials. Ox Seam Tape is the highest performing, highest value product on the market today. Available in clear and 2 7/8″ x 165’ rolls. Ox Seam Tape is required for our 30 Year Limited System Warranties on OX-IS and ThermoPly.

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