Do you live, work, design, or build with foam plastic insulation?

Are you involved in energy efficiency or green building?
Do you care about health?

Foam plastic insulation is widely used in buildings to improve energy efficiency. These materials contain added flame retardant chemicals in order to meet outdated building code requirements, but flame retardants added to foam plastic building insulation do not prevent insulation from burning. Instead, these chemicals can pose health and environmental hazards and can be persistent and bioaccumulative. Buildings that use these insulation materials will not be green and healthy unless codes are updated to allow for reduced use of added flame retardants.

It is possible to achieve building fire safety in many cases without these chemicals, as is done in Sweden, Norway, and other countries.

Our Goal: Update U.S. building codes to enable the manufacture and safe use of foam plastic insulation without added flame retardants.

Learn more in this video:

Download a pdf of references for this video here.

Why update building codes?
Current building code requirements for flammability of foam plastic insulation such as polystyrene (EPS & XPS), polyurethane, and polyisocyanurate:

  • Do not meaningfully improve overall fire safety
  • Require foams to pass an inappropriate flame spread and smoke development test
  • Lead to the use of flame retardant chemicals (at levels of 0.5 – 20.0%) that are toxic or lack adequate toxicological testing

Insulation used below grade that is protected by concrete, soil, or other thermal barrier does not present a fire hazard to building occupants or first-responders. Foam plastic insulation used in these applications should therefore not need to meet the current flammability test requirements. This would allow for use of foam plastic insulation without added flame retardants in certain applications below grade while maintaining fire safety.

Requirements in the International Building Code and International Residential Code for foam plastic insulation in some uses below grade should be changed to allow for safe use of these materials without added flame retardants.