COMMENTS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN
ANPR Comment, R-value, 16 C.F.R. Part 460
The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association ("NAIMA") present the following comments in response to the Federal Trade Commissions ("FTC" or "the Commission") Proposed Rule on Labeling and Advertising of Home Insulation, 64 Fed. Reg. 48,024 (September 1, 1999). NAIMA is a trade association of North American manufacturers of fiber glass wool, slag wool and rock wool insulation products. NAIMAs main role is to promote energy efficiency and environmental preservation through the safe production and use of its insulation products.
These comments are filed on behalf of NAIMA and its member companies, including fiber glass manufacturing members (CertainTeed Corporation, Evanite Fiber Corp., Johns Manville Corporation, Knauf Fiber Glass, Owens Corning, and Western Fiberglass Group) and rock and slag wool (mineral wool) manufacturing members (American Rockwool, Inc.; Fibrex, Inc.; Isolatek International; OCHT; Rock Wool Manufacturing; Roxul, Incorporated; Sloss Industries; and U.S.G. Interiors, Inc.). All of these companies will be subject to the requirements of the proposed rule, and, therefore, NAIMA and its members have particular interest in the outcome of the FTCs rulemaking process. NAIMA greatly appreciates FTCs affording the Association and its members the opportunity to collaborate in the development of a practical and useful Final Rule.
As demonstrated below, NAIMA strongly supports the retention of the R-Value Rule and provides specific response to Rule amendments proposed through public comments and revisions backed by the FTC.
II. FTC ACCURATELY IDENTIFIES THE MAJOR BENEFITS OF THERMAL INSULATION PRODUCTS AS ENERGY SAVINGS AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION THROUGH REDUCTION OF POLLUTION
NAIMA applauds the FTCs acknowledgement of the tremendous benefits derived from the use of thermal insulation products. As the Commission notes, these benefits include substantial energy savings, which also have been recognized by the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal and state regulatory bodies. Energy savings gained through insulation directly translate into exceptional environmental benefits by curtailing the consumption of fossil fuels used to heat and cool buildings. In turn, the reduction of fossil fuel consumption markedly abates the volume of air pollutants released into the atmosphere. As the predominate insulation of choice for over sixty years, fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products share a historic legacy as pioneers in the promotion of energy efficiency and the ensuing reduction of pollution emissions. Today, pollutants like carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, and other air contaminants contribute to climate change. Thus, insulation products extend to the environment one of the most effective tools available to curb the impacts of climate change.
Insulations potent power on behalf of the environment caught the attention of Time magazine as the number one most effective means for curbing the impact of climate change. See Appendix 1. The DOE lists insulation as the top method for attaining savings from energy efficiency, and the Department also names insulation as one of the most critical elements in creating an Energy Star home. Perhaps in recognition of the enormous improvements it has brought to the lives of modern America or realizing the perpetual nature of its contribution to the environment and society, Popular Science recently ranked insulation among the one-hundred greatest inventions of the millenium. "The 100 Greatest Inventions," Popular Science, November 1999.
As further validation of the energy savings and environmental benefits from thermal insulation, NAIMA offers the results from a 1996 report on the function of thermal insulation currently installed in buildings. This report found that "a typical pound of insulation saves twelve times as much energy in its first year in place as the energy used to produce it." Green and Competitive: The Energy, Environmental, and Economic Benefits of Fiber Glass and Mineral Wool Insulation Products, Energy Conservation Management, Inc.; The Alliance to Save Energy; Barakat & Chamberlin, Inc., June 1996. See Appendix 2. The report goes on to say that current fiber glass and mineral wool insulation levels save consumers nearly $84 billion a year in heating and cooling costs. In addition, the report says that "installed insulation in U.S. buildings prevents the emission of over 1.56 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide annually . . . that means that total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions would be almost 15 percent higher without insulation." If all industrial plants installed insulation where economically feasible, approximately 61 trillion BTUs could be saved annually.
The tremendous energy savings offered by fiber glass, rock wool, and slag wool insulation products is an environmental benefit officially recognized by the EPA. Indeed, EPAs Energy Star Program acknowledges that "electricity generation accounts for 35 percent of all U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, 75 percent of sulfur dioxide, and 38 percent of nitrogen oxides." The EPA concludes that "[e]nergy-efficiency is a positive step toward reducing air pollution."
NAIMA and its member companies have teamed with the EPA in developing and promoting a program known as Energy Star Homes, that assists new home builders in developing energy-efficient homes through effective use of insulation products. In recognition of NAIMAs efforts, the EPA named NAIMA a 1997 Energy Star Homes Ally of the Year as the Outstanding Industry Association.
Not only do fiber glass, rock wool, and slag wool products save energy, but also these same products use a substantial amount of recycled material, which further helps the environment. The use of recycled material marks a shift from reliance on extracting natural resources to using materials derived from secondary sources. In addition to reducing the demand on virgin resources, using recycled materials saves landfill space by diverting materials from the solid waste stream, and reduces the energy used and pollution emitted during the manufacturing process. This practice embodies the essential elements of sustainability, for the cardinal precept governing sustainability recognizes that people and commerce should strive to complete its objective with a limited reliance upon natural resources.
For example, slag wool products not only divert blast furnace slag from being sent to a landfill, but a significant portion of slag used to make mineral wool is actually removed from waste disposal sites. Production of iron in a blast furnace yields a slag that contains oxides of silicon, aluminum, calcium, and magnesium, along with trace elements. The vast majority of this blast furnace slag is "air-cooled," which is the type of slag used to produce slag wool insulation. According to U.S. Department of Interior statistics, a total of 21.4 billion pounds of air-cooled blast furnace slag was produced in the United States in 1994. See U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Mines, Slag-Iron and Steel (Annual Review 1994), at 12 Table 4 ("DOI Annual Review").
NAIMA routinely records the amount of recycled materials used to manufacture fiber glass and slag wool insulation and commissions an annual survey to report their use by manufacturers. The survey figures indicate the amount of recycled glass used by NAIMA fiber glass insulation manufacturers in 1998 was 989,568,000 pounds, saving well over 23 million cubic feet of landfill space. According to the Glass Packaging Institutes, "fiber glass insulation is the largest secondary market for recycled glass containers."
Results of a recent survey (1998) show that NAIMA members who produce slag wool insulation used more than 1,503,310,000 pounds of blast furnace slag that otherwise would have been disposed of as waste; this saved well over 16 million cubic feet of landfill space. The Depart of the Interior has published similar statistics on the recycling of blast furnace slag by mineral wool companies. Thus, the mineral wool industry consumes a significant portion approximately six percent of the blast slag produced in the United States that might otherwise end up in the landfill. The industry estimates that over 90 percent of their slag acquisition is new slag purchased directly from blast furnace iron manufacturers. The remaining ten percent is mined from waste disposal sites. Even the slag removed from existing disposal sites provides a tremendous benefit to the environment by removing waste from existing disposal sites and recycling it into a product that helps conserve energy.
III. THE FTC PROPERLY DETERMINED TO RETAIN THE R-VALUE RULE
NAIMA and its member companies commend the FTCs wisdom in determining that the R-Value Rule remains as vitally relevant today as when the Commission first promulgated the Rule in 1979. The safeguards offered by the Rule to consumers seem even more indispensable today as individual consumers selection and installation of insulation products reach record levels as witnessed over the past two decades by the insulation industry. Confirmation of a growing consumer market for insulation manifests itself through the heightened availability of insulation products through retail establishments. Consequently, consumers now need, more than ever, the FTC as protector against misleading claims and deceptive advertising proffered by irresponsible companies. Given the ongoing consumer consumption of insulation products, NAIMA fully endorses the Commissions decision to retain the R-Value Rule.
NAIMAs full fledged support, however, does not alter the Associations opinion that the R-Value Rule must be vigorously enforced if the intended empowerment of consumers attains complete realization. For to intelligently evaluate and compare thermal insulation characteristics and arrive at a decision, that information must feature fair, accurate, and non-deceptive statements and claims. The accomplishment of such a feat may be attained as the FTC enforces the key provisions of the Rule. Therefore, NAIMA firmly encourages the FTC to rigorously monitor compliance with the newly revised R-Value Rule so that consumer confidence in insulation claims may result in elevated use of insulation products that definitely diminish energy consumption which innately lessens emission of air pollutants.
NAIMAs desire for enforcement of the Rule stems largely from the previous history of non-compliance by some segments of the insulation industry. NAIMA notes the occurrence of violations against the current R-Value Rule, which illustrates the need for close scrutiny on the advertising claims. For example, 16 C.F.R. section 460.18(a) requires any advertisement that gives R-values to provide an exact statement explaining R-values as follows: "The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. Ask your seller for the fact sheet on R-values." Several cellulose insulation advertisements refer to R-values, but these promotional items decline to provide the required explanatory statement. See Appendix 3. Cellulose insulation advertisements also violate the express requirement in section 460.18(d) that any advertisement, which compares one type of insulation to another, must give the R-value at a specific thickness for each insulation. See Appendix 4. NAIMA finds that many of these cellulose manufacturers also neglect to provide adequate substantiation of their energy savings claims as mandated by 16 C.F.R. 460.19. See Appendix 5. In addition, the same section just referenced further directs insulation manufacturers to provide a specifically worded statement that energy savings vary and the consumer should find out why by consulting the manufacturers fact sheet. Again, some cellulose insulation producers do not comply, for their advertisements alleging energy savings lack this disclosure. See Appendix 6.
Some cellulose manufacturers disregard the dictates of 16 C.F.R. 460.21 prohibiting employment of misleading statements or references about government approvals and standards. To illustrate, in promotional material circulated by one cellulose insulation producer, an outlandish assertion declares that that "Cellulose is the only insulation now produced to a federal health and safety standard." See Appendix 7. Such a statement results in confusion and mistrust. Pronouncements of this nature mislead consumers since a federal health and safety standard for insulation does not exist. Inherent in an assertion of this kind is a consumers conclusion that those products without certification to this federal standard fall short of governmental performance guidelines.
While these examples only document a sampling of non-conformance issues existing in todays marketplace, the limited number of violations catalogued herein demonstrates the importance of all segments of the insulation industry honoring the Rules provisions. If the credibility of insulation products is tainted by irresponsible advertising claims, the public may lose trust and confidence in the insulation industrys claims of environmental benefits. An attitude of mistrust is detrimental for the insulation industry as a whole, and it also could diminish consumers willingness to seek out increased savings in energy and the ensuing alleviation of air pollutants.
NAIMA encourages FTC to consider protection of the consumer in another area involving home insulation. For instance, if a Home seller implies in advertisements, statements or promotional materials that the home for sale is "energy efficient", the FTC should require the seller to disclose the basis for the claim. The seller must list the combination of insulation products used. The seller must state the product's R-value that was used and its location. If the seller does not have exact or approximate figures on energy performance, the seller may rely on independent rating systems for energy efficiency, such as Energy Star Homes, a home energy rater, or the Department of Energy's Recommended Total R-Values.
The intent of this section is to prevent home sellers from misleading buyers with an unsubstantiated claim that the home for sale is "energy efficient." Any claim must have a reasonable basis, so that the consumer can be assured that the claim has a basis in fact. A reasonable basis can be an energy analysis on that specific home, and how it compares to the CABO Model Energy Code. Energy raters provide this type of service, and can provide consumers with the assurance that the claim is reasonable. If a rating is not desired, then the claim of energy efficient can still be made, if the insulation installed in the home is consistent with DOE recommendations on insulation.
Since the FTC promulgated the R-Value Rule in 1979, the insulation industry has consistently pursued promotion of their products benefits, and as the years passed, the industry found that numerous new products joined the competitive arena and offered new insulation products to builders and consumers. In finalizing the Rule, these new products should now be subject to the FTCs Rule on home insulation. To name of few of these new items available to consumers, NAIMA asks the Commission to recognize the presence of 1) aerated concrete; 2) shredded plastics; 3) rubber products; 4) cotton batts and loose fill; 5) bubble pack insulation; 6) straw bales; 7) foil reflective type insulations; 8) shredded sponges; and 9) various plastic alternatives. This list should by no means be considered exhaustive.
In fact, NAIMA feels confident that in the years following the enactment of the revised R-Value Rule, even more products will join the competing ranks of insulation manufacturers. Since these products might technically escape the requirements of the Rule due to a lack of explicit classification of that material within the text of the rule, NAIMA believes that even these fresh entries to the playing field should be subject to the same rules. Therefore, NAIMA suggests the Commission consider amending the Rule with language broad enough so as to capture under its jurisdiction all those producers entering the insulation playing field with the introduction of new products or variations on existing products.
NAIMA believes that an all-inclusive provision of this nature would shield the consumer from irresponsible entities totally ignorant of regulatory guidelines. To illuminate the relevance of a protective measure like that suggested here, consider NAIMAs experience over the past few years. As a trade association listed in numerous publications, NAIMA receives numerous announcements regarding an insulation manufacturers' commencement of business in North America. Almost invariably the announcement of their business intentions are accompanied by physical specimens of their innovative insulation alternative derived from substances completely inimical to the function of an insulation product. One sample forwarded to NAIMAs offices looked like a most inappropriate material for a home insulation product shredded sponges harvested from the sea. Another package contained crushed computer chips as an insulation option. Thus, if such products successfully gained entrance into the marketplace, the Rules bestowal of governing powers of the FTC over new insulation producers would enable the Commission to effectively regulate any new product and protect consumers from possible false claims foisted upon the public.
IV. DISCLOSING THERMAL PERFORMANCE OF ADDITIONAL PRODUCTS
Since the Commissions original rulemaking, several forms of duct insulation, previously unrevealed to consumers, have joined that competitive fray found in the insulation marketplace. Over the past two decades, flexible and rigid air duct materials have constituted an integral part of building and renovation projects in residential construction, and choices in duct insulation may readily be discovered at retail stores and building supply outlets. See Appendix 8. As evidence of expanded growth in the last 5 years, radiant bubble pack insulations have become increasingly popular, and consumers may purchase this product at select retail stores. See Appendix 9. Further, some radiant bubble pack promotional materials contain misleading claims regarding thermal performance. See Appendix 10.
These insulation materials duct and bubble pack insert R-value performance claims in order to promote performance attributes as attractive bargains for the retail customer. These products include UL 181 Rigid Air Ducts (Duct Board), UL 181 Flexible Air Ducts and "bubble packs," which combine a radiant film with sealed plastic air bubbles. Since these insulation items appear upon the shelves of local hardware stores and building supply houses, the assertion of R-value performance levels puts the consumer in a position of potential victim, who is vulnerable to faulty R-value claims should these products evade compliance with disclosure regulations.
Requiring residential duct products and bubble packs to comply with the R-Value Rule actually may be achieved with little additional burden upon the FTC. The duct materials may easily achieve a rating for their thermal resistance in air duct systems. NAIMAs member companies already apply the R-Value Rule to thermal performance claims on all residential duct products. NAIMAs members test rigid air ducts and flexible air ducts under ASTM C 518 or ASTM C 177 standards for verification of the R-value stated on package labels and advertisements.
In contrast to the ease in determining the thermal performance of duct products, radiant bubble pack insulation exhibits so many variables that accuracy in simple R-value ratings cannot be realized. The hot box tests utilized by bubble pack manufacturers for thermal resistance validation must rely on such high temperature differences that the hot box tests prove inapplicable for HVAC ducts. When conducting hot box testing, results comparable to other test protocols cannot be acquired unless the testing abides by the ASTM C 1363 method performed at temperatures of 55 F and 95 F.
Pursuant to official ASTM action, hot box methods ASTMC 236 and ASTM C 976 have been formally replaced by ASTM C 1363. Thus, all products previously subject to the ASTM C 236 and ASTM C 976 hot box tests bubble pack - now must submit their insulation stock to hot box tests using ASTM C 1363. The ASTM C 1363 replaced ASTM C 236 and ASTM C 976 because the appropriate ASTM Committees and experts deemed C 1363 as a more accurate and a more inclusive procedure. In that the new ASTM standard promises greater reliability in the test results, NAIMA advocates that the FTC incorporate ASTM C 1363 as part of the R-Value Rule. ASTM C 1363 employs a single test for rigid and flexible duct insulation, bubble pack, and any other products designated by ASTM. Using one test will increase precision and uniformity in the information offered to consumers, and this particular test, unlike other tests, may be applied to various duct products without compromising the validity and accuracy of the test results. The FTCs adoption of ASTM 1363 would benefit retail customers by affording the buyer confidence in R-value performance claims all judged by the same method. Since the retail customer may now select duct and bubble pack insulation items, NAIMA believes the traditional means for protecting the buyer against fraudulent claims justifies an amendment to the Rule in accordance with FTC precedent.
With respect to application of the Rule to pipe insulation, NAIMA agrees with the Commissions portrayal of pipe insulation R-values as unwarranted since pipe products are not readily available at retail locations, so consumers do not require protective measures. Even in a hypothetical situation with a retail market for pipe, the nature of pipe insulation R-values discourages incorporating pipe material into the Rule. For instance, the R-values for pipe vary with every gradation of pipe size and would likely confuse the sharpest consumer. Further, the assignment of pipe R-values is based on technical principles so complex and complicated that the average consumer could not begin to comprehend the nuances differentiating the R-value of one pipe from another. In addition, pipe insulation is not marketed in terms of their thermal performance. NAIMA is not aware of any misrepresentations on R-values for pipe insulation occurring in the marketplace. Thus, NAIMA finds no need for the FTC to seriously contemplate an amendment that adds pipe insulation to the Rule.
The FTCs mandate from Congress essentially obviated that old axiom "let the buyer beware" and ushered in the dawn of consumer protection. In fulfilling its Congressionally appointed mission, the FTC expends its allocation of resources and monies on policing advertising and anti-competitive actions to protect consumers, directly or indirectly, from deceptive and misleading practices designed to defraud the buyer in the marketplace. In every FTC activity, the Commissions ultimate aim stays the guardianship of the consumer.
Given the clearly articulated role designated for the FTC, any expansion of their duties beyond consumers concerns arguably intrudes upon territory that Congress has deemed off limits. Hence, broadening the scope of the FTCs jurisdiction to include non-residential insulation appears to NAIMA as unprecedented and unwarranted. The chief reason for precluding non-residential insulation rests upon the simple fact that consumers have no reason to purchase non-residential insulation. Furthermore, the duties already demanding the FTCs attention taxes their sparse resources and stretches, across a wide expanse of issues, the Commissions ability to handle all the matters under their jurisdiction. By adding additional duties that fall short of a consumer related topic, the industry could divert the Commissions attention from matters of more immediate importance.
NAIMA, therefore, concurs wholeheartedly with the FTCs decision to forego extending the Rule to the commercial marketplace. As the FTC observes in their public notice, the commercial buyer generally possesses a greater degree of sophistication and knowledge regarding products used in the regular course of business. Thus, these individuals are less vulnerable to deceit and confusion and that distinguishes them from consumers. Moreover, there has been no hint or intimation that manufacturers have engaged in improper marketing claims directed towards the commercial and industrial audiences.
A motive, however, for encompassing non-residential insulation into the Rule has been admitted. Comments ascribed the purpose for regulating non-residential insulation as an effective tool for educating commercial and industrial customers about the environmental benefits procured from insulation. The FTC mindfully notes that insulation producers already espouse the ecological assets endowed by insulation to every commercial and industrial entity willing to listen. Thus, what purpose could R-value disclosures dictated by regulation serve in heightening commercial and industrial awareness of insulation functions? There is no regulatory scheme in existence capable of generating positive action to the degree shown by NAIMAs voluntary endeavors.
Indeed, NAIMA and its member companies believe that the educational materials it provides to commercial and industrial customers proffer far greater technical detail and comprehensive assessment on topics exclusively pertinent to commercial and industrial interests. These informational materials exceed the breadth and volume of data divulged to the consumer through the Rules disclosure requirements. Application of disclosure requirements to the commercial marketplace would in reality prove counterproductive by depriving these customers the wealth of knowledge donated voluntarily by manufacturers. For example, NAIMA vigorously promotes the energy savings and economic rewards attained through insulation by sponsoring programs designed to urge commercial and industrial facilities to increase insulation with documented success stories. NAIMA developed the 3 E Plus computer program used to determine economic thickness for process plants. The computer calculation system predicts the cost of increased insulation and also forecasts the energy savings and air emission reductions. See Appendix 11. As further support for industrial customers, NAIMA published a guide for conducting an insulation energy audit that assisted facilities in insulating steam processing lines, boilers, tanks, process equipment, and similar sources of energy loss. See Appendix 12. The principles of these audit programs proved a giant success as demonstrated by a case study at Georgia Pacific where upgraded insulation saved fuel costs and increased process efficiency. See Appendix 13.
In addition to active interaction with the users of their products, NAIMA and its members reached out to all potential industrial customers by participating in the formulation of DOEs industrial Insulation Guidelines. NAIMA acted as a strong advocate for the voluntary insulation guidelines through education programs and the development of the 3 E Plus Ó computer program. These selected examples of NAIMAs efforts in promoting energy savings within the commercial and industrial arena corroborate that colossal progress may be achieved through voluntary endeavors without imposition of regulatory mandates. These accomplishments present the most persuasive argument against amending the Rule to regulate non-residential insulation.
V. DISCLOSING IN-USE THERMAL PERFORMANCE VALUES
NAIMA concurs with the FTCs decision to avert amendments to the Rule requiring disclosures regarding in-situ performance of R-value. NAIMA believes its position on this issue to be firmly grounded in practical experience and test results from credible laboratories. For instance, some manufacturers have measured the in-situ attic performance of many fibrous insulation products over a range of temperature conditions. Once the results were fully analyzed, the initial concerns raised by the cold-temperature evaporated in light of the fact that these temperatures rarely lasted long enough to result in significant energy loss or economic cost. See Appendix 14.
Therefore, there is insufficient reason to develop a new rating system for attic insulation beyond the existing R-value requirement. Many consumers would only be confused by other terms like Rayleigh number, and no one term fully explains all aspects of performance. The accompanying explanation necessary to objectively explain a new rating would be cumbersome and confusing. Furthermore, any new system would only apply to a limited part of the country but consumers all across the country would be exposed to the information through national marketing programs.
One suggestion received by the FTC in support of in-situ verification of R-value related to the new ASTM C 1373. ASTM developed this procedure as an outgrowth of research conducted at various scientific laboratories, but this test method lacks application to a real home setting where conditions are variable and unpredictable.
Through foresight sharpened by long experience, the FTC pinpoints the influences that might foreseeably interfere with a steady-state tests ability to duplicate real world performance of insulation. To the multitude of variables that impose limitations upon a steady-state test and resist producing reliable results, NAIMA contends additional variables such as 1) the presence of nearby homes, buildings, hills, and valleys that cause surface winds to funnel in unpredictable directions; 2) the level of man-made humidity generated by sources unique to each particular building; and 3) the sudden and sharp change in average temperature due to slope of land, soil type, vegetation, or smog. As these variables and those FTC noted illustrate, the likelihood of obtaining dependable and authoritative in-situ R-values remains a distant possibility.
Moreover, an attempt to explain the myriad of features that need to be measured and weighed to render in-situ R-values would overwhelm the consumer so as to totally defeat the purpose and intent behind disclosure requirements. Indeed, an amendment mandating in-situ R-values may provoke claims that cannot be legitimately verified or definitively refuted. Therefore, NAIMA opposes R-value requirements impossible to determine and that creates consumer confusion rather than clarity.
NAIMA adamantly urges retention of the Rules restraint against compelling disclosures on the overall thermal efficiency of building components. NAIMAs position originates from the total absence of a consensus standard or test procedure capable of quantifying overall thermal performance of structural insulation panels, which are building systems products that include insulation as a major component. Especially when the manufacturers of such materials "recognized that additional research and development would be necessary before the Commission could require the testing and disclosure of system performance values." Also, the performance of these "systems" is highly dependent on factors that are not under the control of the manufacturer, these factors can include the air-tightness of the joints between the components and the other parts of the building envelope like windows and doors.
Testing has shown that many insulation materials can be used to achieve superior "thermal performance" when they are installed according to specification and used in conjunction with other materials that can enhance their performance. These other materials and the method the insulation is installed plays a significant part in their overall performance. Also, these factors are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to quantify in a fair and easy to understand system that would benefit the general public. Finally, as the FTC clearly points out, the present rule does not prevent manufacturers from providing additional information about their products performance due to factors other than R-Value.
VI. DISCLOSING R-VALUES THAT ACCOUNT FOR FACTORS AFFECTING THERMAL PERFORMANCE
This section of NAIMAs comments responds to the FTCs recommended action for developing appropriate test specimen preparation requirements for specific types of insulation, especially the requirements application to cellular plastics and reflective insulations.
The Cellular Plastics Industry has struggled for many years over methodology for determining the long-term in-service thermal resistivity value for cellular plastic insulations. Over the years, several attempts have been made to develop procedures to predict or determine the long-term thermal performance of cellular plastic insulations such as: polyisocyanurates (PI), spray polyurethane, and extruded polystyrenes (XPS). These methods include:
However, none of these methods have worked for or been agreeable to all of the industry sectors. Due to apparent disagreement on certain aging methods, NAIMA recommends that the FTC adopt aging methods already accepted by the majority of industry representatives and formally approved by the ASTM. The aging requirements found appropriate by ASTMs material standards include ASTM C 1289 for polyisocyanurate, ASTM C 578 for polystyrene, and ASTM C 1029 for polyurethane insulation.
NAIMA advocates amending the Rule that requires cellular foam manufacturers to provide long term thermal performance data for their products. However, the industry needs a level playing field from which to work, yet, at the current time, there is no acceptable procedure for determining the long-term thermal resistance of impermeably faced cellular foams. It would be wrong to ask one group of manufacturers to provide product information that can not be provided by all segments of the insulation industry. Until a level playing field can be established, NAIMA recommends maintaining and reporting the current 180-day value. Although the 180-day value does not provide real design information, it is a value with which the consumer is familiar.
NAIMA advocates a required disclosure for all home insulations, including reflective insulations, of thermal performance. In determining the R-value of reflective insulation, NAIMA believes evidence supports that the detrimental impact of dusting and corrosion frame the evaluation of thermal performance. The Department of Energys ("DOE") "Radiant Barrier Attic Fact Sheet," issued in June 1991, reported laboratory measurements verifying that dust on the surface of aluminum foil increases the emissivity and decreases the reflectivity. Based on this finding, the DOE concluded that "dust or other particles on the exposed surface of a radiant barrier will reduce its effectiveness. Thus, observed the DOE, reflective insulation installed in locations that collect "dust or other surface contaminant will have a decreasing benefit to the homeowner over time." For instance, when DOE monitored reflective insulation installed in a dusty attic, researchers observed that 50 percent of the insulations effectiveness dissipated after the first year of installation. See Appendix 15. The DOEs findings have been repeated in other studies on reflective insulations. See Appendix 16.
Given the extensive research available on this topic, the knowledge gained through these investigations cannot be ignored. Therefore, NAIMA asserts that a satisfactory test method for determining R-value of reflective insulation must account for the debilitating affect of dust and corrosion on the performance capacity of the insulation. See Appendix 15.
The full articulation of NAIMAs views on reflective insulations is described in section VIII, D set forth below in the discussion on single and multi-sheet reflective insulations.
Settling remains a significant industry issue, so NAIMA appreciates this opportunity to help shape the Rule in protecting the consumer, where possible, from the frustration associated with settling of insulation products.
The FTCs main emphasis on settling reveals the Rules deficiencies in attaining an accurate determination on the final settled density of three different loose-fill products. These materials are Dry-Applied Cellulose, Dry-Applied Mineral Fiber and Stabilized Cellulose. The FTC readily concedes that the present rendition of the Rule omits the provisions necessary to deliver adequate information to consumers on R-value claims made on loose-fill products. As indicated below, NAIMA supports the FTCs proposal to institute disclosure of R-values for loose-fill insulation products.
In the case of dry-applied Cellulose, the density at which the product must be tested to validate thermal claims is the design density determined by the Design Density Test as specified in ASTM C 739. Most products show settling in the order of 25 percent when using this procedure, and field studies have supported the Design Density Test values.
To understand the propensity of cellulose insulation to settle, a description of celluloses physical properties reveals its elemental characteristics causing settling. A layer of installed cellulose fiber insulation will compact with time which means that the thickness will decrease and the density will increase. The process, generally called settlement or settling, will take place over a long time, and it has been shown that only about 70 percent of the total settling occur within the first year of service. Cellulose consists of small pieces of paper and tufts of fibers mixed with chemicals in powder form. The process is explained by the fact that these paper pieces lie loosely on each other without any anchorage between them. This is in contrast to pure fibrous material where the fibers link together, reducing the tendency to settle.
As the thermal resistance of the insulation is a function of the conductivity of the material and the thickness of the insulation layer, it is necessary to estimate what the thickness will be during its service life in the building because the thermal resistance will be inversely proportional to the thickness of the layer. Studies demonstrate that this problem can partly be compensated for by overfilling so that the material is compressed. In a Swedish long-term study, the settling of loose-fill insulation in attics in two test houses has been studied for a period of up to seven years. These studies have shown average settling values of 16 to 21 percent. See Appendix 17.
The Swedish study also documented that certain variations in cellulose material directly affect settling. For instance, product composition affects settling. Cardboard based cellulose seems to have higher settling values than newsprint material. The degree of grinding presents another variation that directly impacts settling. Studies show that settling increases with decreasing particle size. In addition to these factors, the study found 1) humidity variations; 2) density; and 3) vibration also affect settling.
To explain how these three dynamics increase settling, consider the following explanations based upon the Swedish study. Humidity causes the cellulose material to lose its stiffness similar to what occurs when paper gets moist. In a laboratory study, cellulose insulation was exposed in climatic chambers to a relative humidity during a 28 week time period. During the 28 week test period, cellulose insulation settled about 26 percent, and the researchers indicated that the cellulose had not ceased settling at the close of the 28 week test period. In a separate study, Swedish researchers found mechanical vibrations that exist in normal residences caused approximately 5 percent settling. See Appendix 17.
NAIMA encourages the FTC to require any cellulose producer granted a Design Density Test exemption to utilize a substitute measure to gauge settled density that solidifies in its evaluation procedure a consideration of all variables affecting settled thickness as noted herein. Cellulose manufacturers should not evade a rigorous assessment of their products settled densities.
The ASTM C 687 Standard has been updated and augmented with a protocol outlining sample preparation techniques, stabilization times, and guidance on gauging the specimens density in the test area. This ASTM standard possesses the ability to test all loose-fill materials. Given ASTM C 687s applicability to all loose-fill products, NAIMA encourages the FTC to require all loose fill products to use the ASTM C 687 test in validating R-value claims. The ASTM C 739 Cellulose Loose-fill specification already requires cellulose insulation manufacturers to conduct testing as prescribed in ASTM C 687. In addition, NAIMA recommends that the FTC require dry-applied cellulose bag labels to feature an installed thickness column that reflects the magnitude of settling and loss of thickness that can be expected.
The field measurements of thickness for loose fill mineral fiber insulation collected by manufacturers show little or no settling for these materials in open blow attic installations. Because mineral fiber loose fill attic insulations do not settle significantly, no predictive settling method has been validated for these products. See Appendix 14.
Proponents for establishing settling tests for loose fill mineral fiber that follow uniformly the same test applicable to cellulose neglect to consider several key factors in attaining reliable test results. The FTC pinpoints precisely the chief flaw in advocating uniform tests by observing the inescapable uncertainty that the same tests possess the capacity to measure different products with the same precision. NAIMA asserts that the required testing employed to ascertain cellulose settling cannot be neatly transferred to mineral fibers due to distinct physical differences between the products. To illustrate, consider that ASTM established C 687 procedures for preparation of mineral fiber insulation samples. The first procedure provides guidance for preparing material without a settled density, and the second procedure proscribes the steps necessary for preparation of insulation with a settled density. Thus, ASTM C 687s sample preparation guidelines do not function as a method for establishing whether mineral fiber insulation settles or the method for measuring settling.
In the case of dry-applied Mineral Fiber Insulation, there is no accepted method to predict settlement of these products. Studies of actual attics have shown settling in very low ranges. For example, the Mineral Insulation Manufacturers Association ("MIMA") concluded, with Oak Ridge National Laboratories ("ORNL") concurring, that tests demonstrated the settlement of loose fill mineral fiber insulation in attics is a minor factor in the installed R-value delivered to the customer when the thickness and amount of material required by the bag label is installed. For insulation installed at or above label density and thickness, the calculated final R-values of the mineral fiber products were always at or above the labeled R-value. See Appendix 18.
As to cellulose producers desire to attain a level playing field by mandating identical tests for judging settled density, NAIMA points out that acquiring an even playing field demands much more than unreliable and meaningless results from duplicate tests on distinctly different substances.
In assisting consumers to correctly determine settled density, manufacturers of dry-applied mineral fiber insulations list each products minimum required thickness. In addition, NAIMA offers consumers educational literature that describes the 1) proper application of mineral fiber loose-fill insulation; 2) the proper amount of insulation for adequate coverage; 3) the meaning of label instructions; 4) smart steps towards selection of an insulation contractor; 5) appropriate questions to ask the contractor that reveal the likelihood of a quality installation; 6) methods for inspecting the completed installation to ascertain whether the R-value and settled density was delivered; 7) hints on preparing the attic or other cavity if the home owner plans to self-install. See Appendix 19. The majority of these guidelines are provided without a regulatory trigger forcing such disclosures. NAIMA and its member companies offer as much information on settled density as prudent for the consumer. See Appendix 14.
Stabilized Cellulose contains an adhesive binder that bonds the fibers to reduce settling in the attic. There is little information on the long-term thermal effectiveness and overall performance of wet-spray cellulose insulations. Moreover, there is no material specification that exists to cover this product and no standard protocol for determining the appropriate test density for labeling purposes.
Work on a proposed specification has relied on a drop box method to determine if a product is stabilized under fixed laboratory conditions. Data has not been presented that suggests at what level of settlement a product is still considered to be stabilized, nor that the tests used to determine if a product is stabilized actually represent the material in actual field installations.
The product's settling/shrinkage characteristics vary with temperature and humidity and there is data that supports significant shrinkage at elevated temperatures and increased moisture levels.
No matter what R-value is claimed for a wet spray cellulose application, the "true" R-value of the installed insulation is significantly dependent upon 1) the quality of workmanship; 2) the amount of insulation material that is actually installed; and 3) the moisture content. It is very difficult to maintain consistent density due to variations in the amount of water added to cellulose insulation. In general, insulation will lose R-value when wet. The shredded newspaper constituting cellulose insulation absorbs moisture. Cellulose fibers are "hygroscopic," which means they are every effective at absorbing and retaining moisture. Indeed, if soaked, cellulose will mat down and thermal performance can be permanently reduced. Assuming existing cellulose does dry after becoming wet, there is a concern that the fire retardant chemicals may wash away leaving the insulation materials insufficiently protected against fire.
Studies conducted in Canada, New England and Ohio demonstrated that wet-spray applications of cellulose insulation do not achieve their advertised R-value until dry and drying may take as long as two months. See Appendix 20. In many cases, wet-spray applications may need to remain uncovered until completely dry.
A study of wet insulation drying rates conducted by Johns Manville produced results similar to the Canadian studies. See Appendix 21. Wet cellulose was spray applied in a chamber simulating moderate, humid, and dry climates. The results from these three different environments cause concern about the veracity of the settled thickness advertised by cellulose producers. In the dry environment, the cellulose completed drying after one month. Another chamber located in the dry environment, but featuring a vapor retarder on one side of the chamber completed the majority of drying in three months and had to wait a full ten months for complete dryness. The other chamber in the dry environment with vapor retarder on both sides remained wet for over a years time.
In the moderate climate, the chambers with vapor retarders took over a year to dry. In the humid climate, none of the samples dried after one year. Obviously, wet sprayed cellulose often fails to dry before the building is completed and the attic is closed up. All of these tests indicated a need for more reliable drying guidelines. Many contractors acknowledge that they have no clear guidelines on the subject. See Appendix 22. They are acutely aware of the potential problems that can develop if the insulation fails to dry in timely fashion. Little information is available from cellulose insulation manufacturers on the proper drying time. One producer prescribes 72 hours and another cellulose company assures the user that three hours provides plenty of time to complete drying. NAIMA is not aware of any testing conducted by the cellulose industry to provide consumers and customers with useful instructions or guidance on drying times.
The testing results cited by NAIMA call into question the prudence of the recommendations offered by those cellulose manufacturers willing to address the topic. In light of a this serious variable threatening to degrade the settled density of the cellulose insulation, NAIMA admonishes the FTC to demand that each manufacturer provide consumers and customers with reliable drying guidelines since drying directly impacts R-value and settled density. This information on drying time seems particularly crucial given the absence of an approved test method for ascertaining settled density.
In addition, stabilized cellulose should also disclose to consumers settlement/shrinkage data as a function of moisture application levels and the recommended temperature should be detailed by the manufacturer to guide the installer on the proper application of this product. The Rule should require manufacturers to provide this information for their products, pending development of an accepted standard protocol that should then be required.
NAIMA has publicly articulated its doubts as to the accuracy of current methods employed to judge the amount of settling when stabilized cellulose is installed in the attics of manufactured houses. The major weakness of the present practices arises from the lack of reliable substantiation of the durability of the installed R-value. The dilemma starts at the point of testing the manufactured housing plant location. After tests conducted at the manufacturing facility, the fully constructed home is transported via truck or train to the final destination. Unfortunately, the jostle and jiggle inherent in any road trip or journey by train tends to alter the level of cellulose recorded upon its departure from its plant of origin.
Beginning in the early 1980s, the rock and slag wool manufacturers began to successfully market their loose-fill insulation to HUD Code housing manufacturers. The result was improved thermal performance and significant installed material cost savings. The claims asserted by the rock wool and slag wool producers met with a challenge from competitors that all claims be substantiated.
The rock wool and slag wool manufacturers complied with the request and provided the necessary documentation found in independently conducted third party witnessed over-the-road evaluations designed to measure the impact of the effects of transportation upon the installed insulation. The third parties enjoyed reputations as distinguished engineering firms and researchers. The third parties included RADCO, T.R. Arnold & ASSOCIATES, PFS, INC., and ORNL.
During the late 1980s, cellulose insulation gained a greater share of the manufactured housing market, including sales among HUD Code housing manufacturers. The cellulose manufactures, however, neglected their stewardship by ignoring over-the-road tests until 1997. Eventually HUD forced the cellulose manufacturers to account for their dereliction of duty. See Appendix 23. While the Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association ("CIMA") has an ongoing dialogue with HUD regarding the resolution of this matter, NAIMA cannot find any evidence that CIMA and its member companies have rectified the deficiencies in their testing approach to the satisfaction of HUD. Like the FTC R-Value Rule, the HUD Code provides governmental inspection of manufactured housing as assurance to the purchaser that their acquisition features goods of sound construction, durable features, and safe building materials capable of enduring a reasonable time beyond the date of purchase.
The durability of the thermal performance claims of stabilized cellulose installed in attics of manufactured housing remains unsubstantiated. In some cases, damp cellulose insulation is installed shortly before a metal roof is installed to create an effective sealed plenum. If dampened cellulose isulation must dry to become stable, and if transportation occurs before drying occurs, the possibility of avoiding significant settling appear extremely slim.
To remedy these apparent inconsistencies in testing requirements, NAIMA requests the FTC to adopt testing guidelines similar to the HUD Code and require over-the-road testing for all insulations installed in the attics of manufactured homes.
In this section, NAIMA responds to the FTCs request for comments on the proper means to establish the R-value of loose-fill insulation and self-supported insulations in wall cavities.
There is no validated test method to predict settling of loose fill or wet spray wall insulations. But settling of wall insulation is more critical than for open blow attic insulations; wall insulation settling creates un-insulated voids while attic insulation settling reduces thickness without creating un-insulated areas. Wall insulation settlement of 5 percent can reduce overall opaque wall R-value by 15 percent. Due to the slopes of conductivity vs. density curves, equal settlement of cellulose attic insulation has a greater effect on R-value reduction than for mineral fiber insulation.
NAIMA suggests that the Rule require manufacturers of either demonstrate that their products do not settle in wall insulations or disclose the amount of any expected settling. This could be required on Fact Sheets, along with wall coverage charts similar to presently required open blow coverage charts. Wall coverage charts should require R-values, coverages, bag counts, and area weights at standard wall cavity depths for at least 2X4 and 2X6 framing.
NAIMA supports the FTCs proposal to amend the Rule to require preparation of R-value test specimens of self-supported spray applied cellulose insulation products according to either the ASTM Standard or the HUD standard.
NAIMA believes that the ASTM C1149 "Standard Specification for Self-Supported Spray Applied Cellulosic Thermal/Acoustical Insulation" provides adequate test specimen preparation procedures. NAIMA cannot speak with authority on the reliability of the HUD UM-80 protocol. Therefore, NAIMA encourages the FTC to accept the ASTM standard as the approved procedure for test specimen preparation.
NAIMAs comments regarding loose-fill and stabilized loose-fill in section C 5 as set forth above also represent the Associations views on the use of loose-fill insulations in wall cavities.
Most mineral fiber manufacturers have recognized that density varies with installed thickness, and have accounted for that variation in designing their products and coverage charts. The current Rule does not preclude manufacturers from considering this factor in order to prepare more accurate coverage charts. This effect is acknowledged in ASTM C 687 "Standard Practice for Determination of Thermal Resistance of Loose-Fill Building Insulation" which applies to fibrous glass, rock/slag wool, cellulosic fiber materials, granular types and other loose fill insulation. The amount of density variation depends on a specific products characteristics, but measured densities can differ up to approximately 20 percent for some products when comparing density at R-11 thickness and R-38 thickness.
The consideration of this density variation should be required of all manufacturers, so that label coverage charts are more accurate at all R-values. Installers would thereby receive more reliable information on how the product should be installed and consumers would have a more accurate representation of product performance. The Rule should require that manufacturers prepare coverage charts based on the minimum thickness, maximum net coverage area, and minimum weight per square foot correlated to the nominal density expected at each listed R-value. Given the reasons just stated, NAIMA urges the FTC to amend the Rule to ensure that R-values and related claims for loose-fill insulation products are accurate.
The suggested addition to the Rule of a procedure for calculating the overall R-value of a manufactured home attic would expand the scope of the Rule to a new area. The Rule as currently constituted deals only with the accurate representation of insulation product performance. An overall attic calculation ventures into system performance and building design. NAIMA believes that the useful purpose of the Rule is to provide for accurate input on R-values to system calculations of all types. Manufactured home attics are only one of numerous types of assemblies that are commonly analyzed with various calculations and models.
The overall thermal efficiency of manufactured homes is regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, through the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. The standards already include procedures for considering the effects of insulation thickness variations in a sloped roof cavity. The accuracy of this information has not been seriously questioned, to our knowledge. Adoption of a new procedure in the FTCs Rule would unnecessarily confuse this whole issue.
VIII. OTHER TESTING REQUIREMENTS
NAIMA agrees that accredited laboratories need not be required. It is more important to ensure that thermal testing laboratory equipment has been calibrated with thermal standards traceable to the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and that testing is done according to ASTM C 177 and ASTM C 518. The NVLAP accreditation is done per ISO Guide 25, so they are one and the same. Currently, there exist no global agreements to accept other laboratories results for product certification. For outside testing on thermal insulation, most NAIMA companies use accredited laboratories.
NAIMA offers in this section comment on the proper selection of test temperature parameters to assure accurate R-value results.
All Insulations have some variation in their R-value for different mean temperatures. For comparison purposes, the selection of a 75 F mean temperature represents the middle of the range of temperatures seen in the US for building applications. Some materials, such as reflective foils have little change with mean temperature. Others, such as foams blown with gases other than air, exhibit significant changes, for better and for worse, over the normally seen range. Mass insulation, such as mineral fiber and cellulose fiber, exhibits slow variations where the R value will increase with lower mean temperatures. However, for all the potential variations, the increase in accuracy obtained by choosing one temperature over another does not justify the added confusion to the consumer. Therefore, if the FTC determines that establishment of a mean temperature is necessary, NAIMA supports the adoption of 75 F as the most appropriate mean temperature for the reasons stated above.
NAIMA encourages the FTC to amend the Rule to include specification of a test temperature differential to ensure the comparability of R-value claims for competing home insulation products. NAIMA provides below its views as to the appropriate considerations in adopting such a specification.
Specification of the temperature difference used in a test along with the mean temperature is consistent with normal practice demonstrated by the ASTM specification for building insulation. For example, material specification C 739 for cellulosic loose-fill, C 764 for mineral fiber loose-fill, C 549 for perlite loose-fill require temperature differences during the test of between 36 and 60 F. Board product specifications C 578 for polystyrene foam and C 591 for polyisocyanurate foam require a 50 F temperature difference. On the other hand, specification C 665 for Mineral fiber blankets has no test requirement for temperature difference. ASTM Standard Practice C 1058 "Selecting Temperatures for Evaluating and Reporting Thermal Properties of Thermal Insulation" recommends a temperature difference of 50 +/- 10 F for the range of interest.
Another view of the importance of temperature difference is discussed in ASTM Test Method C 518, which is widely used for the purpose of thermal resistance testing and product certification. Section 11.1 of this document says: "For any test, make the temperature difference across the specimen not less than 10K (18 F). For specimens that are expected to have a large thermal resistance, a larger temperature difference in the specimen is recommended. The actual temperature difference or gradient is best specified in the material specification or by agreement of the parties concerned." These limits were established to provide the best practical compromise between test accuracy and test capability available.
Therefore, based upon the recommendations of the common building insulation material specification and the thermal test methods used to conduct these tests, specification of a nominal temperature difference for a thermal resistance test is useful in insuring that accurate values are presented. Using the guidance provided by ASTM Standard C 1058, a temperature difference during the test of 50 +/- 10F is appropriate.
NAIMA thanks the FTC for bringing clarity to the R-Value Rule by agreeing to define manufacturers as the only party responsible for complying with the Rules ten percent tolerance limit provision.
NAIMA agrees with the FTCs suggested wording in the tolerance section as it offers improved clarity, and it will likely prevent misinterpretation of the 10 percent tolerance. NAIMA recommends that the FTC adopt language that captures the following concepts: "The product must always be produced to the label R value. The R value for any four randomly selected samples shall not be more than 5 percent below the listed R value nor shall any single specimen be more than 10 percent below the listed R value"
This clarification would be consistent with ASTM C 665 and C 764, and the improved explanation tenders an added benefit for the consumer in that there would be no room for misinterpretation of the 10 percent tolerance. Furthermore, this approach presents a greater probability that the product is produced to label R-value and would have no burden on consumers or sellers.
ASTM C 390 is not suited for continuous sampling of production material. It is designed more for lot inspection. The FTC comment on this proposal is correct, but NAIMA would support a reference to ASTM C 390 to notify consumers how much testing should be conducted while still indicating that the test is inadequate for application to the manufacturers continuous process. Manufacturers generally test R value every shift in the production process, so this is certainly "representative of ongoing production" and no other specific sampling procedures are required.
NAIMA opposes changing the current requirements for test data. Internally, manufacturers should be testing their products much more frequently than every 2 or 3 years to insure compliance with the 10 percent R-value tolerance rule. Some NAIMA manufacturers measure their products thermal resistance on a daily basis while others check this attribute on a monthly basis. NAIMA believes that this type of testing should be conducted regularly as a part of a companys quality control procedure.
NAIMA views the 3-year record retention to show proof of testing as sufficient. When a manufacturer makes a significant change, this material needs to undergo testing, and then the 3-year cycle should begin again. NAIMA suggests that the Rule require thermal testing at least annually. This testing requirement should apply to all insulations covered by the Rule.
In this section, NAIMA provides comments on thermal requirements of traditional reflective insulations.
This section of NAIMAs comments responds to the FTCs recommendations for both single and multi sheet reflective insulations.
NAIMA believes a testing requirement should be imposed on reflective insulation manufacturers in order to measure emissivity of single sheet reflective insulations. NAIMA believes that ASTM has adequately determined that the ASTM E 408 test standard will provide accurate results. The test protocol, however, should insist that the sample tested constitute appropriate elements that reveal the aging on the products emissivity. There may be other tests that could produce comparable results, and NAIMA would not oppose the adoption of alternative tests so long as the accuracy of the results and the scope of the results were not diminished when compared with the ASTM E 408. These tests are necessary because the results weigh the impact of aging, dusting, and corrosion.
Dr. Wilkes comments thoughtfully state the need for a Rule revision respecting multi-sheet reflective insulation. ASTM C 1224 "Standard Specification for Reflective Insulation in Building Applications", Section 9.1 on Thermal Performance, was developed specifically for the purpose of eliminating the errors in the previous method of evaluating the thermal performance of reflective systems. The ASTM C 1224 procedure brings the thermal performance testing method to be on par with those for mass insulation. This process establishes a direct link between the in-place R value for a mass insulation and the in-place R value performance for a reflective system in the same cavity installation. The reflective foil insulation manufacturers were active in "ASTM C 16.21, Reflective Insulation," which developed the ASTM C 1224 and have agreed to its contents.
Therefore, NAIMA supports the FTCs proposed changes with the following addition:
ASTM C 1363 was developed to combine the requirements of ASTM C 236 and ASTM C 976 into a common single test procedure. Any test apparatus meeting the existing ASTM C 236 and ASTM C 976 standards will have no problem meeting the new standard. The principle changes included in the ASTMC 1224 standard are to tighten the calibration / verification procedures and to better define the completion point for a test. ASTM C 1363 also includes information from the applicable ISO standard so that conforming to ASTM C 1363 also provides conformance to the ISO Hot Box test standard. The next step in the hot box standards process at ASTM is to eliminate ASTM C 236 and ASTM C 976. ASTM C 236 will be balloted for withdrawal this winter and ASTM C 976 will be balloted for withdrawal in 2001.
As the DOEs fact sheet on radiant barriers explains, the elusive quality of this insulations varying characteristics makes rendering an assignment of an R-value rating nearly impossible. The tests conducted at the DOE and other laboratories demonstrate an ability to predict certain energy savings only when no variables interfere with the products performance. Unfortunately, the DOE study plainly depicts an insulation material vulnerable to numerous factors capable of significantly diminishing the products effectiveness of performance.
NAIMA believes that testing options presently available cannot offer a single protocol or method capable of consistently rating radiant barrier products thermal performance. Until such a test arises in which the majority of the industry and the FTC has confidence sufficient to assure consumers that claims by radiant barrier products may be relied upon, NAIMA suggests that these products be prohibited from asserting thermal performance claims. This restriction will likely prod radiant barrier producers to develop the standard needed for affirming thermal performance claims. Furthermore, their exclusion from asserting R-Value claims assures other insulation manufacturers that the R-Value Rule must be applicable to all rather than exempting one variety of insulation from documenting thermal effectiveness. Without that testing tool, any statement made to consumers could later be proven to be deceptive and misleading.
ASTM established ASTM C 687 to dictate standard procedures for preparation of insulation samples. The first procedure provides guidance for preparing material without a settled density, and the second procedure prescribes the steps necessary for preparation of insulation with a settled density to correctly measure the effect of settling on all loose fills R-value.
ASTM C 687 has been updated and augmented with a protocol outlining sample preparation techniques, stabilization times, and guidance on gauging the specimens density in the test area. NAIMA believes that mineral fiber insulation products should comply with ASTM C 687.
IX. OTHER DISCLOSURE ISSUES
As demonstrated by the comments herein, NAIMA believes that the R-Value Rule bolsters confidence among consumers by requiring that pertinent information be disclosed to buyers of insulation products.
The FTC accomplished a difficult task when they drafted a description of R-value understandable by most consumers. Knowing the plausibility of reaching a consensus on a revised "What you should know about R-values" is extremely remote in light of the disparity in the comments, NAIMA supports the FTCs position to retain the exact wording of the current explanation. NAIMA and its member companies notes the absence of any complaints respecting the R-value explanation proffered by the Commission, nor has the Association and its member companies received requests for clarification or elaboration. If the current rendition evokes no protest or complaint, NAIMA believes in the prudent philosophy of letting sleeping dogs lie.
In addition, the FTC appropriately recognizes that manufacturers enjoy complete freedom to augment the Commissions language about R-values with fact sheets and other materials. The supplemental details outlined by these supplementary sources should not be inserted or merged into the existing explanation for a number of reasons. First, the FTC has created a concise and short summation, and the simplicity of that statement surely ends when auxiliary facts and illustrations crowd the declaration with so many words that the consumer likely will never even attempt a reading of it. Second, individual manufacturers prize the chance to engage customers in dialogue with supplemental fact sheets that serve the dual purpose of education and promotion. NAIMA and its members wish to preserve the flexibility afforded by the current situation.
Lastly, Corbonds characterization of fiber glass as an obsolete product betrays their conception of a level playing field obsolescence of their competition. The delusion encouraging such a fantasy perhaps also inspired their proposed revising to the explanation of R-value. Their ulterior motive in revising the R-value explanation is blatantly obvious. NAIMA trusts that the FTC remains inclined to reject Corbonds approach.
With the advent of recently introduced insulation products offered in the form of mineral wool batts and blankets, NAIMA again states its position that specific reference to mineral wool in the Rule obtrudes an antiquated depiction of the marketplace. The Association and its members greatly appreciate the FTCs proposal to delete the reference to mineral wool batts and blankets and apply the Rule to all types of insulation formed in the style of batts and blankets. There really can be no valid argument about exempting any particular type of batt or blanket insulation for the Rules requirements.
As stated throughout NAIMAs comments on the proposed revisions to the R-Value Rule, the FTC operates and conducts its regulatory activity with one major objective in mind protection of the consumer. While demanding disclosures that might assist installers and inspectors in completing their tasks seems helpful and charitable, NAIMA believes that the FTC should not step outside the regulatory boundaries they have observed for many years and impose regulations on manufacturers to aid those parties not within the consumer class. A precedent could be set for further ventures into previously forbidden territory, and NAIMA contends that such an adventurous attitude runs counter to congressional intent behind creating the FTC.
More importantly, NAIMA cannot ascertain whether consumers actually could benefit from manufacturers disclosing data to installers and inspectors. As the FTC correctly observed, the CABO/Model Energy Code ("MEC") already provides guidelines for disseminating this material to installers and inspectors. Therefore, NAIMA agrees with the FTC that amendments to the Rule mandating disclosures to parties not considered consumers is unnecessary and inconsistent with the purpose of the Commission.
The thickness disclosure requirement is only for information purposes. While thickness on board products can be determined with reasonable accuracy by the consumer (measuring the height of a stack of boards is a fairly easy and accurate method), the determination of exact thickness for light density products such as mineral fiber batts is more difficult. The consumer would have a fairly difficult time measuring anything more accurately than a nominal thickness, with significant variation between points in the batt. For this reason, NAIMA recommends that the disclosure be modified to specify disclosure of "nominal thickness".
NAIMA provides comments on disclosure requirements for loose-fill insulations in this section.
NAIMA fully supports requiring all loose-fill insulations to disclose the minimum settled thickness, maximum net coverage area, and the minimum weight per square foot at any R-value listed on the chart. Thus, NAIMA concurs with the FTC that there is no longer a justification for different disclosure requirements for some loose-fill insulations.
Due to the inherent variability of the installation process for loose fill insualtions, NAIMA believes that the present requirements for disclosure of minimum net weight should be retained in the Rule.
Due to the inherent variability of the installation process for loose fill Insulations, NAIMA believes that the present requirements for disclosure of minimum thickness should be retained in the Rule. NAIMA strongly holds to the principle that R-values are not always linear, and, therefore, an insulation products thermal resistance may not be accurately represented simply by reference to the R-value per inch. NAIMA believes that references to the R-value for a one-inch thickness would encourage consumers to multiply the one-inch R-value by the desired number of inches to attain the R-value throughout the entire space. Unfortunately, the R-value per-inch is not always constant.
In order to achieve the specified R-value, NAIMA provides guidelines for professional installers and consumers that loose-fill must be installed so that at least the minimum thickness and weight per square foot are achieved. The only practical way to do that is to be sure to install at least the minimum number of bags per 1000 square feet as specified on the label coverage chart. ASTM C 764 requires a coverage chart. On the actual label, the coverage chart will show numbers representing specifications for the particular manufacturers' product.
The number of bags per 1,000 sq. ft. is based upon net area, which is the total area minus the area covered by framing members and other obstructions, while job size is usually figured as total (or gross) area. Because the net area will always be smaller than the gross, the number of bags per 1,000 sq. ft. of gross area may be reduced slightly, generally 3 to 8 percent, from the number on the label. Manufacturers may provide correction factors or tables to make this adjustment. However, the bag label makes no allowance for the additional material that might be needed where blowing is difficult, such as under flooring or at obstructions where the insulation may pack.
To achieve the desired R-value, NAIMA also publishes and distributes installation guidelines that help to assure proper thickness:
NAIMA also offers home owners helpful hints on making certain their contractor installs the minimum thickness needed in order to achieve the R-value designated for an attic in that homeowners geographic location. NAIMA finds that those contractors following these and other recommended practices deliver to their customer the appropriate R-value.
NAIMAs most innovative means for determining the insulation thickness required for a particular application may be accessed through the Associations 3 E Plus Ó program, which is an MS-DOS application on a hard drive floppy disk that runs on any IBM computer. While this program is specifically designed for commercial and industrial installations, the program proves to be a valuable tool for calculating and selecting the insulation thickness needed for most types of insulation materials and their applications.
NAIMA determinedly opposes acceptance of a concept that elevates "initial installed thickness" or "guaranteed thickness" as the only characteristics pertinent in determining whether the quantity of insulation blown in meets or exceeds the labeled R-value. Thickness and R-value must always go hand in hand. A thickness disclosure is necessary before the consumer can evaluate products with the same R-value, since different materials provide the same R-value at different levels of thickness.
Reference to either of these product attributes, thickness or R-Value, without mentioning the other, is unfair and deceptive to consumers. Similarly, price claims standing alone are both unfair and deceptive. A very high R-value can be achieved at a very low price if, for that price, only a small area will be insulated. The requirement demanding that price claims accompanying a statement of R-value, thickness and coverage area at that price should be retained in its totality. This requirement that comparisons be based on equal coverage areas is essential to prevent unfair and deceptive comparisons.
NAIMA still believes significant benefit might be afforded consumers by mandating the installer to attach bag tabs or labels to the customers receipt. Other entities saw merit in such a strategy, but the FTC appears hesitant to pursue this avenue due to insufficient evidence supporting the concept. The acquisition of evidence or documentation showing the effectiveness of a system modeled in the fashion described by NAIMA cannot be acquired unless FTC imposes a requirement to provide that documentation. Logically, one can reason that the tabs and seals from each installed bag would provide necessary affirmation of the amount of material actually installed. This will encourage installers to carefully monitor the number of bags used on a job and will give the purchaser hard evidence that the correct amount of material has been installed. A shortfall in the number of bags or seals compared to the dimensions of the space being insulated will become apparent, and therefore, the fraud can be more readily investigated. Without a documentation of this type, the purchaser will find it nearly impossible to validate the amount of insulation actually installed.
If the industry, installers, and FTC engaged in a trial run of the program, the FTC might then ascertain whether this stratagem offers consumers protection against fraud and compels honesty among certain installers. Therefore, NAIMA respectfully requests that the FTC contemplate a requirement to conduct a test on a trial basis. After a period of time acceptable to the Commission, a conclusion might be reached as to the viability of a tabs and labels system.
NAIMA commends ICAA for offering their time and resources to assist consumers in verification of their installed R-value. NAIMA, however, believes that the appointment of one particular organization to validate installed R-values poses a host of problems that includes ICAAs representation of the installers and the potential conflict of interest this might intimate.
In this instance, the CABO/MEC guidelines and availability of information voluntarily circulated by various manufacturers provide consumers with the means of confirmation. Most importantly, the CABO/MEC guidance is directed towards inspectors, who also can provide the consumer with an independent and neutral assessment of installed R-values.
NAIMA supports the FTCs proposal to delete the obsolete reference to urea-based foam insulation given its cessation of production. NAIMA and its member companies do not know of any UF insulation products still being sold or of any insulation products that may be subject to the shrinkage issue relevant to UF insulations.
The disclosures mandated by the R-Value Rule for advertisements and promotional campaigns embody some of the most critical elements found in the entire Rule. As reflected in the comments below, NAIMA strongly supports continued disclosure requirements
NAIMA has long advocated the need and advantage secured from application of the R-Value Rule. The Rule establishes boundaries within which the insulation industry may properly promote and advertise their products. Without the restrictions encompassed within the Rules provisions, confusion could reign over the insulation marketplace.
The Rule also fulfills the purpose intended by legislators in defending the consumer against extravagant and outrageous pronouncements likely to abound if the Rule were not firmly in place. Because these advantages alone ratify the Rules worth, NAIMA and its member companies endorse the FTCs proposed retention of those elements that harbor the very essence of the Rules power disclosures accompanying advertising and promotional endeavors.
NAIMA discourages any deletion of present requirements, and reminds the FTC of NAIMAs strong conviction in enforcement action against violators of the Rule.
As stated herein, NAIMA also believes that the concept of R-value will always escape the layman, but by providing a short and succinct explanation, the consumers memory is refreshed and his evasive grasp on R-value temporarily returns. NAIMA also encourages the FTC to retain the current language found in the R-value description.
Radio advertisements bear similarities to television commercials in a number of ways. One, both radio and television commercials strive for pithy and concise messages clever enough to reach part of the audience. Two, advertising in either medium usually demands the highest price when compared with other promotional avenues. Thus, the burdensome interruption in a radio ad really withstands any serious distinguishing traits from television ads. In reality, television may print the words on the screen without interrupting the verbal message and limiting the intrusion on the visual image. Such an advantage cannot be afforded with radio, so the full declaration actually impedes the radio message far more significantly than a television commercial.
By way of compromise, NAIMA suggests that the FTC mandate all radio and television advertisements of insulation products notify their listening and viewing audience that disclosure information required by the FTC may be obtained via a toll-free number. Another possible remedy might permit radio and TV promotions to escape the full reading of the disclosure, but simply note additional information is available that will prove relevant to buying decisions. Yet another alternative would offer advertisers on radio and television a significantly condensed version of the disclosure. Perhaps a succinct statement like "Ask your seller for all the facts on R-values before making a purchase." This unobtrusive sentence allows full benefit of television and radio advertising while protecting the consumer with notification about relevant information too lengthy for electronic media such as television and radio.
In response to the items presented under the heading recited immediately above, NAIMAs comments focus on whether the proposed and suggested alterations to the Rules disclosure duties impose undue burdens upon installers or new home owners. NAIMA and its member companies adopt the overall view that installers and new homeowners should be relieved from disclosure obligations in the absence of tangible benefits to consumers.
NAIMA and its members strive to maintain an ongoing dialogue with their customers, particularly insulation contracting companies. These installers routinely confront laws and regulations from governmental entities and guidelines and recommendations from non-governmental standard setting organizations. Thus, obligating installers and new home sellers to fulfill the task of disseminating manufacturers fact sheets imposes a burden upon them, and a balance should be employed to determine whether the benefit to consumers justifies the burden assigned to other parties.
To alleviate distribution of paper that can only prove impractical for contractors, NAIMA endorses FTCs stated preference to refrain from Rule amendments expanding the number of parties responsible for circulating manufacturers fact sheets. NAIMA also concurs with the FTC opinion that fact sheet information may readily be obtained from numerous sources so that their dispersion seems unnecessary and without discernible advantage.
While CABO/MEC recommends the use of attic rulers, cards, or certificates in new construction, these organizations lack some of the traits inherently embedded in a federal authority. For instance, CABO/MEC owes no fiduciary duty to act as the consumers guardian. Neither is CABO/MEC empowered by legal authority to wield the sword of enforcement, issuing fines and penalties, when certain parties decline obedience to its recommendations. Conversely, the FTC, appointed as the official protector of the consumer through a delegation of congressional power, possesses regulatory authority with enforcement power. This mantle of regulatory enforcement power intimidates many into compliance that otherwise would dismiss the advice of standard setting bodies. Therefore, NAIMA suggests that the FTC formalize the CABO/MEC guidelines on attic cards, certificates, and rulers by inserting into the Rule the same language relied upon by these code bodies to encourage utilization of attic card, ruler, and certificates. Not all jurisdiction are subject to CABO/MEC or any energy code for that matter, so this provides yet another incentive for the FTC to encourage the use of attic rulers, cards, and certificates.
Another advantage of attic rulers and similar markers occurs when the participants in a transaction ponder the consequences of cheating. NAIMA cannot offer the FTC statistical verification that cheating occurs with attic and cavity installation; obtaining anything resembling statistical validation of cheating poses so many problems that the accomplishment of such a task approaches the impossible. Reports of cheating incidents repeat themselves with sufficient regularity to lead many to believe the issue is a widespread problem. Certainly, the motive behind cheating of this kind needs no elaboration. But no matter how much integrity most installers sustain, there will always be some that seek out disreputable means to gain a few extra dollars.
NAIMA requests the Commissions consideration of this recommendation.
NAIMA supports alleviating responsibility placed upon retailers to provide fact sheets when the very same information may be found on the bag label. The FTC should, however, add a provision dictating that where labels lack data required on fact sheets, manufacturers shall supply retailers with the relevant fact sheets providing the facts omitted from the label. If such a duty does not appear in the Rule with plain and unambiguous language, some manufacturers may see profit in limiting the amount of information disclosed to their customers.
NAIMA believes the answers solicited by the FTCs questions listed at the close of the Federal Register notice are embodied in the text of the comments set forth herein. If the FTC desires further information or a more expansive response to any of the questions, please allow NAIMA to accommodate the FTC by supplementing the Associations comments with an appropriate reply.
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