To receive the "Outstanding Green Product of the Year" at the 2003 National Association of Home Builders Green Builders Conference and also make the GreenSpec Directory's "Top 10" list for innovative new green building products in 2003, something special has to be presented.

Win-win situation

Perhaps the most environmentally friendly insulation product currently on the market, BioBase 501 is a two-part, open cell, semi-rigid, lightweight, polyurethane spray-applied foam insulation based on soybean oil. The polyol component of BB501 is 40 percent soy-derived oil. That's significant since soybeans are a rapidly renewable agricultural product grown domestically by more than 600,000 farmers across the United States. For every pound of soy-based insulation used, one pound of oil need not be imported, thus lessening our dependency on foreign oil while at the same time aiding our domestic agricultural industry. Currently, spray-applied insulation has about a 2 percent market share. This includes petroleum-based foam insulation products similar in their performance characteristics to BB501.

Unlike fiberglass and/or cellulose insulation, soy-based BB501 does not "settle" whereby loss of air-tightness can occur, thus allowing for outside air infiltration to occur the main cause of heat gain and loss in a building envelope. Spray applied as a liquid, in seconds upon contact with a clean dry surface, it expands to 100 times its volume when in liquid form. The net effect of this rapid expansion is to create a thermal envelope whereby every nook, cranny, crevice, void, cavity, etc., is filled completely. The advantages of this sealing effect are many-fold. Besides providing a thermal value of 3.7 R/in (achieves R-13 at 31⁄2 inch thick), it also creates a noise, air and moisture barrier minimizing air infiltration from the outside, thus preventing unwanted sound, pollutants, dust, allergens, etc., from entering the interior spaces thereby improving indoor air quality.

Being a plastic, BB501 will not support mold and mildew growth. Fiberglass and/or cellulose insulation will lose insulating value if water/moisture penetrates the wall/roof membrane. By creating an airtight barrier, water and moisture never make it into the wall and roof cavity. Though BB501 has a higher initial installation cost and can only be installed by trained and certified installers using sophisticated carbon dioxide-based (blowing agent) spray equipment (installed at a density of 1/2 pounds per CF), the additional cost is quickly amortized over time in the form of energy savings. Savings of up to 50 percent on utility bills for residential energy costs are being realized with the use of BB501. Though it is made from an organic material-soybeans-the extracted soybean oil has no food value whatsoever thus insects and rodents derive no nourishment from it and will not consume it.

Earth's friend

Because it contains no formaldehyde (typically used as a binder in the manufacturing process for fiberglass insulation) nor volatile organic compounds or chloroflourocarbons, no chemical off gassing occurs during the manufacturing/application process. Applied to both exterior wall and roof assemblies, it achieves a Class 1 fire-resistance rating (Flame Spread <20/Smoke Developed <400)-the highest rating possible for a residential or commercial insulation application. The fact that it will not shrink, settle or disintegrate insures the airtight "thermal seal" for the building envelope. With fiberglass/cellulose insulation, there can be a dramatic temperature differential between the attic space and interior living spaces. Using BB501, temperature differentials of only three to five degrees Fahrenheit between the attic and living spaces are achieved. Because of its energy efficiency in preventing air infiltration thus heat gain/loss, HVAC system requirements are reduced, another amortization of the initial cost.

Dr. Robert Turner, research director at BioBase Systems Inc., an accomplished chemist and polymer physicist, developed BB501 in-house. The company's CEO, Thomas Kurth, invented the process for SoyOyl "biobased" polyols and has received the "pioneer" patent for the use of vegetable oils to manufacture cellular plastic materials (polyurethane plastics).

With its unprecedented initial commercial success and industry recognition, BB501 is poised to increase its own and in turn, spray-applied insulation's market share dramatically in the next few years. The manufacturing facility is located in Rogers, Ark., and headquarters and research facilities are located in Spring Valley, Ill. BioBase Systems is now going national with its product BioBase 501. Since it requires skill, training and certification to install BB501, BioBase Systems is seeking out master distributors and trained/certified applicators. Contact Don Tiskevics at (800) 803-5189 if interested in becoming a BB501 distributor/installer. To learn more about BB501 and BioBase Systems, visit its Web site