Spray it! Don’t Say it! Take that, Mom!

16 Feb

Greetings Campers!

Okay… Most of you already know that lately I’ve been going off on a tirade about “Ronin’s 10 Sorta Simple Homebuilding Rules.”

If you’ve been playing along, you already know that my family is constructing a new home, using Shipping Containers and reclaimed Aircraft Hangar Components, as the “primary structure.” And, because nobody seems to understand what I’m doing…

Or even “Ronin…” Alas, you can pretty much sum up my email account with this sentence;

“Why? Oh, Why? Ronin, are you a (gasp!) “moron?” Were your mother and father actually “brother and sister?” Well, were they? Huh?… You’re one a them “commie subversives,” ain’t you?”

Hey, it’s nothing like that! I’ve just been recording the progress (and the pitfalls) for all of you to read, so that you can laugh at me, behind my back! 🙂

I AM NOT a salesman, an industry representative, or even a “construction conglomerate.” I’m just a guy building a house for his family, so that they’ll stop complaining about the rain, and the cold, and the bugs, and the humidity, and the… well… you get my drift, right?

And, I think that information should be shared. After all, you gotta laugh at somebody, right? 🙂

Now, I should know better, because every time I introduce a new installment, I get barraged with questions about everything under the sun!

But, the amazing thing is that one question gets asked about every single element I’ve exposed you guys to;

“Whaaaa? Are you an idiot? Did you take a lot of hard falls as a child? Is this (gasp!) propaganda?”

Okay, maybe not ONE question… Wait… that’s not it… okay, maybe it’s a close heat… but the question I was really talking about is this one;

“Okay… Okay… Blah, blah, blah… BUT IS IT GREEN?”

I’ve been talking about using SIPs and Spray Foam, to insulate your house. You remember what SIPs are, right?

If you’ve forgotten already… well… you can take your place in the back of the room, by that kid who drools all over himself. You know, that kid with the helmet… We’ll wait while you get your stuff together, and find the appropriate seat…LOL!

(And stop it! I’m just teasing… My mother threatened to send me to school on the “short bus” for years. In fact, I thought that wearing that helmet to school made you a celebrity…) LOL!

For those of you with short attention spans (because I KNOW that you haven’t missed any of my posts…)  a SIP is just a big foam sandwich, that has wood sheeting on both sides, to form a structural unit. Using SIPs makes for fast construction, and actually saves labor. Think of  SIPs as  big building blocks that snap together to form your house walls and roof. And, we already know that SIPs are made from recycled materials, starting with the chips of wood they use for the outer “wood sandwich.” Remember? *Ronin glares menacingly…*  Enough said.

sip002The “meat” of the SIP is the foam in the middle, so I suppose we better talk about foam.

I’m a big believer in building tight, affordable, energy efficient houses. It makes absolutely no sense to spend all your hard earned money on a new house, only to go home and throw cash out the front door. Yet, that’s exactly what most people do, and it makes me nuts, because those energy leaks can be as expensive as trying to turn lead into gold… Why? Because those leaks are costing you money, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that’s why!

So remember one of  “Ronin’s Golden Rules…

A good application of foam is like duct tape. It’ll fix anything! 🙂

Man… I can hear you belly-aching already! I know… I know…

“Okay! Okay! But is it green?”

You know, you’ve really gotta work on that. You’re starting to sound like a bunch of whiny bastards…

“Is it ‘green’?” has become one of the most frequently asked questions by people today. Thanks to Al Gore (hawwwwk, patooie!), the energy crisis, the failing economy, the mortgage bust, and the new Presidency… concern for the environmental future of the globe as well as economic implications to our personal finances has citizens everywhere babbling and stumbling around searching  for ways to reduce dependency on the Middle East, Big Brother, and oil.

Here’s A Brief History Lesson – At my house, this translates into “It’s Nap Time! Yippee!

According to those old fossils down at the “home…” since World War II we have allowed our lives to become dependent on “cheap oil.” Now, I really try not to listen to them, because not only do they make sense, they used up all MY oil “Hot Rodding” around, trying to impress girls,  in THEIR youths. So, it’s their fault! 🙂

Ninety percent of our transportation is fueled by oil. It’s a fact. And it doesn’t stop there, either! Look around the next time you go to Wal*Mart; everything you see, from plastics to fabric…  is petroleum based.

You can’t even buy a burger without feeling bad… Experts say that it takes six barrels of oil just to bring one cow to market, so that you can slap a hunk of cheese on it!


Boy, that makes you wanna go out and jump in your Hummer, and head for “Al’s House of Angus” at 80 miles an hour, don’t it? “Sigh!”

And, according to experts, we use 84 million barrels of oil a day. A day! No wonder those guys in the Middle East have us by the… um…er… wallets. Scientists are saying that;  “It took humans 125 years to use the first trillion barrels of oil.  (Who was using it before? ;-)) We’ll use the next trillion barrels of oil in the next thirty years.” And, if that isn’t bad enough… We have a predicted 30 years worth of petroleum supplies left, scientists continue; “One thing is clear; the era of easy oil is over.”

Easy for them to say, those oil companies already have all of our money… the rats!

“We are no longer living in a world of growing, cheap oil but in a world of rapidly shrinking supply of vastly more expensive oil.”  Translation: “We got all the easy oil first.” Recently, gas prices climbed faster than the Space Shuttle, and America was outraged. And that was a” wake up call,” again…

I say “again” because I remember sitting in gas lines at the crack of dawn (in the 70’s), waiting for my turn to get some gasoline. Thank heavens for Aerosmith 8-track tapes! Hell, I remember getting all the way to “third base” while sitting there in a car filled with steamy windows, waiting for my turn to spend my life savings, for a tank full of gasoline! And, for ME to get to “third base” took a loooooong time! Hey, you try getting to “third base” with your 6′ tall girlfriend, in the back seat of a ’65 Volkswagon Bug! I shoulda got a medal!

All I got was a punch in the eye, from her brother… Sheesh!

We haven’t learned a thing, apparently. Or even “moi,” apparently. 🙂

You cannot dispute that demand continues to exceed supply and doesn’t seem to be slowing.

Al Gore started traipsing around the planet in his private jet whining about “global warming,”  so that he can pay for that leaky mansion of his, and his fleet of SUV’s.

Now, don’t get me started on Al Gore, or this post will turn into a rant fest. Suffice to say that he’s stuffed his pockets with enough cash to insulate himself from everything but an Ice Age, while perpetrating his sinister “hoax.”

Whether you believe him or not, the planet is experiencing “Global Climate Change.” Scientists can measure it, and actually agree on it, without those idiots in “Hollywood” chiming in… That’s another “wake-up call.”

Lesson over – WAKE UP!

See? That wasn’t so bad… But, are we heading for an environmental meltdown? Some experts say; “YES!” So… the biggest task at hand is moving from wasteful, polluting economies to sustainable ones. The “green movement” has been embraced not just by “tree-huggers,” “fashion-plates,” and celebrities, but by virtually every sector of  demographics.

Professor Ronin says: The effect your actions and lifestyle have on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions is referred to as your “carbon footprint.” And… the greatest contributors to your carbon footprint are your transportation and electricity demands at… where else?… your home.

So… What Does It All Mean?

Why… It means that “Green” has become the new “Black!”  DUH!

While manufacturers are eagerly searching for ways to make their products “greener”, “Average Joe’s” like you and I are driven by their social responsibility to buy and use green products – particularly when it comes to their homes. But what is “green?” Is one product “greener” than another? And where do you find the best green products when it comes time to build or reconstruct your home?

If you watch cable TV, you already know that sustainable green building practices can reduce the tremendous impact that building design, construction and maintenance have on the environment. According to those lackeys at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Center for Sustainable Development, buildings consume over 40% of the world’s total energy, at least 25% of its wood harvest and almost 16% of its water. And according to the US Green Building Council (USCBC) building accounts for 71% of total US electricity consumption, contributing towards 39% of total US energy consumption and is responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions.

Whew! I’m getting dizzy just trying to sort out the percentages. Be thankful all you have to do is read this stuff… I had to write this crap… Oy! LOL!

Okay, you’re scared (rhymes with “witless…”), and you know you have to do something, before the “Energy Bear eats your lunch. What do you do? Hmmm?

Well… better performing home insulation is a great place to start towards conservation and reducing your home’s carbon footprint. All that conservation and carbon footprint reduction stuff is just swell, but gosh Wally… I’m really only focused on this part, right now… it saves you money. GOOD Insulation contributes towards significant heating and cooling efficiency and energy conservation.

Translation; It saves you money!

And, I won’t mention that it contributes to the health and comfort of your family – plus,  it can help protect the environment through reduced emissions. See? I didn’t mention it.

And now that we’re talking about GOOD insulation… No other insulation material on the market is more effective and energy efficient than spray polyurethane foam (SPF).


I bet you were wondering when I’d finally get around to answering your question huh?

When considering “green materials” for building, Spray foam insulation is the material of choice. Why? Well, because it offers both a responsible bio-content and a favorable impact on the environment due to its inherent energy saving benefits. That’s why!

(Okay, I’m sounding like a “smarty-pants!” So what! If you don’t like it… go somewhere else… LOL!)

We all know that some products are “green” because of the material that they are made from and/or the energy consumed to produce them. This is called “embodied energy.” Others, such as SPF, are also green because of lifecycle benefits even though they have significant embodied energy.

So… What is “Green?”

There are many ways in which a product is considered green. This varies from industry to industry. According to the American Society of Interior Designers’ Foundation and the U.S. Green Building Council a product is considered “green” if, among other things, “it is energy or water efficient; uses healthy, non-toxic materials; is made from recycled or renewable resources; makes current products you use more durable; and they are recyclable or biodegradable.”

This definition seems to encompass just about everything on the planet, eh?

The REAL emphasis for today’s consumer in the building market tends to be on bio-based products or products made from renewable resources and those that offer energy efficiency by their design or function.

Which leads us to the next question in our “GreenFest…” Is one product more “green” than another?

Home insulation by function alone is green. There are home programs in place that certify the design, construction and operation of high performance green building. Currently there are over 70 different local or regional green home building programs in the US, each with its own criteria and guidelines. Insulation’s mere existence when properly installed in a building satisfies requirements under the EPA’s Energy Star home building program. Of the 70 plus programs out there, all specify insulation to be necessary for a green home but none specify one particular type over another.


In order to really compare the “green-ness” of insulation materials…  first you have to look at the different types of insulation products. Your examination should be based on the materials used to actually manufacture the products. Are they bio-based or made from renewable resources?

Cellulose insulation is manufactured from finely shredded newspaper that is chemically treated for fire and mold resistance. Cellulose Insulation is considered very green due to its highly recycled content, however… they neglect to tell you that  it is made in electrically-driven mills at about 750 BTUs per pound, in contrast to fiberglass insulation which consumes 6,000 to 15,000 BTUs per pound.

And, it doesn’t stay where you put it. Cellulose Insulation settles, down in all those cavities inside your wall. So, after a while, you get “cold spots.” That kinda defeats the purpose, in my book.

Cotton or Wool Fiber insulation is made from denim treated to be fire-retarded and mold resistant. With 85% recycled content, cotton fiber insulation uses natural fibers and does not omit harmful gasses and is considered extremely green.

But, I guarantee you that your “significant other” is gonna be really pissed off, if you shred their jeans, in order to save money on the house!

Fiberglass insulation manufacturers are finally incorporating some recycled materials into their products. However, several fiberglass insulation manufacturers (not all of them) still knowingly use phenol-formaldehyde binders in their batt products. Formaldehyde, since 2004, is classified as a known carcinogen by IARC.(1) Fiberglass insulation can be considered green mainly on the fact that it insulates.

Other than that… not green! NOT! Ronin no like Formaldehyde! Ronin no like scratching!  Capish?

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) insulation is spray applied, adheres and expands to the surface! This is “gooooooood!” This creates an air tight, moisture resistant barrier without settling unlike other means of insulation (like cellulose!).

  • SPF also has the greatest R-value!
  • SPF is solvent free and contains no added formaldehyde.
  • SPF reduces the use of “fossil fuels!”

SPF not only contains varying degrees of renewable resources in its formulation, but the energy saving characteristics alone, significantly reduce fuel consumption, not to mention the electricity requirements for heating and cooling your home or building. These superior performance capabilities are quickly being recognized by the masses, making spray foam the most popular, clean, sustainable green insulation product today.

Honest! And I don’t even sell the stuff!


So, regardless of what the insulation salesman tells you, virtually all spray foam systems have some degree of renewable resources! And, spray foam insulation helps pay for itself, by keeping GREEN in your wallet. That’s the best GREEN of all!

Says ME!

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin