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Terms & Acronyms

Any discussion of commercial or house insulation, spray foam installation and building envelopes will contain plenty of scientific terminology. Use this glossary of terms and acronyms to help gain a better understanding of Icynene spray foam insulation.

Glossary - A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y Z 


Air Barrier - Meets ASTM E283. A layer of material resistant to air flow usually in the form of polyolefin (e.g. Typar, Tyvek, and other housewraps). A material which is applied in conjunction with a building component (such as a wall, ceiling or sill plate) to prevent the movement of air through that component.

Air Barrier System - The assembly of components such as spray foam insulation used in building construction to create a plane of air tightness throughout the building envelope and to control air leakage.

Air Changes per Hour (ACH) - An expression of ventilation rates — the number of times in an hour that a home's entire air volume is exchanged with outside air.

Blower Door - Diagnostic equipment consisting of a calibrated fan, removable panel and gauges, used to measure and locate air leaks.

Blowing Agent - A gas or a substance capable of producing a refrigerant gas used in making foamed materials such as insulation spray.

Btu British Thermal Unit - The amount of energy that is required to raise 1 lb. of water up 1° F.

Btuh - A rate of energy transfer - can be expressed as Btu's/hour.

Building Envelope - The external elements which include walls, floor, ceiling, roof, windows and doors of a building that encloses conditioned space; the building shell.

Capillary Action - The movement of liquid within a material against gravity as a result of surface tension.

Castor oil - Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean.

CFC (Chlorofluorocarbon) - Any of various halocarbon compounds consisting of carbon, hydrogen, chlorine, and fluorine, once used widely as aerosol propellants and refrigerants. Chlorofluorocarbons are believed to cause depletion of the atmospheric ozone layer.

Combustion Efficiency - A measure of useful heat extracted from a fuel source by an operating heating appliance. For example, a furnace with a combustion efficiency of 60 percent converts 60 percent of the fuel's energy content into useful heat. The rest is lost as exhaust gases.

Conduction - Transmission of energy (heat /sound) through a material or from one material to another by direct contact. Materials with low rates of conductive heat transfer make good insulation.

Convection - Transmission of energy (heat /sound) from one place to another by movement of a fluid such as air or water.

Density - Determined by the weight expressed in pounds of a cubic foot of spray foam.

Dew Point - The temperature at which a vapour begins to condense.

Diffusion - The movement of water vapour from regions of high relative humidity (RH) toward regions of lower RH driven by a higher to lower temperature differential.

Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) – This designation is given to products that are in compliance with Section 01350 of the Material Specifications, adopted by California High Performance Schools (CHPS). Testing is done using test method California Department of Health Services Standard Practice for the Testing of VOC Emissions Sources Using Small Scale Environmental Chambers (CA/DHS/EHLB/ R-174) and incorporates the chamber testing portion of California Specification 01350 for schools and residential buildings.

ICYNENE LD-R-50® spray foam insulation is CHPS E.Q. 2.2/Section 01350 compliant and meets requirements for use in a classroom (school).

Exfiltration - Uncontrolled leakage of conditioned air from inside the home to the outside.

Flame Retardant - A substance which is added to a polymer formulation to reduce or retard the tendency to burn.

Flame Retarded (Adj.) - The property of a material to which flame-retardant has been added.

Flame Spread - Standard test for determining relative combustibility. The flame spread of a tested material is rated relative to red oak (flame spread = 100).

Flammability - Relative ability of a material to support combustion as expressed by its flash point.

Heat Loss - Heat that is lost from a building through air leakage, conduction and radiation. To maintain a steady interior temperature, heat losses must be offset by a combination of heat gains and heat contributed by a heating system.

Heat Recovery Ventilation System - A mechanical ventilation system that recovers energy from exhausted indoor air and transfers it to incoming air. This system usually incorporates an air-to-air heat exchanger which transfers the heat from exhaust air to the incoming air or vice versa.

HCFC (Hydrochlorofluorocarbons) are compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, chlorine and fluorine. They have shorter atmospheric lifetimes than CFC's and deliver less reactive chlorine to the stratosphere where the ''ozone layer'' is found.

HFA Propellant, usually hydrofluoroalkane-134a, used in chlorofluorocarbon-free (CFC-free) aerosol delivery systems.

Humidistat - A humidity sensitive control device that signals the ventilation system to operate if the humidity goes above a preset limit. 

ICYNENE LD-C-50® - ICYNENE LD-C-50 is a light density, insulation spray foam and air barrier material that contributes to a Healthier, Quieter, More Energy Efficient® building. Its 100% water-blown, PBDE and HFC-free formulation allows a building to be insulated and air-sealed for improved indoor air quality and minimized health impact. Its superior energy conservation also helps minimize the environmental impact by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  ICYNENE LD-C-50 insulation spray was formerly marketed as “The Icynene Insulation System®” and is sometimes referred to as Icynene® “classic”.

ICYNENE MD-C-200™ - ICYNENE MD-C-200™ is the only closed-cell insulation spray from the insulation spray industry leader. It is air-impermeable with a built-in vapor retarder.

Infiltration - Uncontrolled leakage of air into a building through cracks around doors, windows, electrical outlets and at structural joints.

Insulation - Materials with low thermal conductivity characteristics that are used to slow the transfer of heat.

Isocyanate (MDI (diphenyl methane diisocyanate)) - One of a group of neutral derivatives of primary amines (R-N=C=O) groups. An essential component (A) of spray foam chemistry.

Kilowatt-hour (kWh) - Standard unit for measuring electrical energy consumption-kilowatts per hour.

Safety Data Sheet (SDS) - A standard formatted information sheet, prepared by a material manufacturer, describing the potential hazards, physical properties, and procedures for safe use of a material.

Mould - Fungal growths often resulting in deterioration of organic materials, especially under damp conditions.

Mycotoxin - Any poisonous substance produced by a fungus.

Organic - Compounds containing carbon.

Overspray - (1) Airborne spray loss of polyurethane foam. (2) Undesirable depositions of airborne spray loss.

Perm - A unit of water vapor transmission defined as 1 grain of water vapor per square foot per hour per inch of mercury pressure difference (1 inch mercury = 0.49 psi). Metric unit of measure is ng/m2 s Pa. 1 perm = 55 ng/m2 s Pa.

Permeability - The time rate of water vapour transmission through unit area of a material of unit thickness induced by unit vapour pressure difference between two specific surfaces, under specified temperature and humidity conditions.

pH - A measure of acidity/alkalinity of aqueous mixtures. A measure of pH 7 is neutral, lower is more acidic; higher is more alkaline.

PSI - Pounds per square inch.

Radiation - Transfer of energy (heat/sound) from one object to another through an intermediate space. Only the object receiving the radiation, not the space is heated. The heat is in the form of low frequency, infrared, invisible, light energy, transferring from a ''warm'' object to a ''cold'' object. It is known as the ‘black body effect.’

Relative Humidity - The ratio expressed as a percentage of the amount of moisture air actually contains to the maximum amount it could contain at that temperature.

R - A unit of measurement of resistance to heat flow in hr. ft2 ° F/

RSI - A unit of measurement of resistance to heat flow in m2 ° C/W per 25 mm. R = 0.176 RSI.

Resin - Component B in insulation spray foam chemistry. This component is mixed with the A component to form Icynene®.

Retrofit - The modification of an existing building or facility to include new systems or components.

Standard Testing - Laboratory test methodology for determining relative properties of materials at specific conditions.

Thermostat - Temperature sensitive control device that signals a heating or cooling system to operate if the temperature in the building reaches a preset limit.

Thermal Barrier - A material applied over Icynene® insulation spray designed to slow the temperature rise of the foam during a fire situation and delay its involvement in the fire.

Thermal Bridge - A thermally conductive material which penetrates or bypasses an insulation system; such as a metal fastener or stud.

Thermal Resistance (R) - An index of a material's resistance to heat flow. See R and RSI.

Thermal Shock - A building material's reaction to rapid changes in temperature.

Thermography - A building energy diagnostic technique using an infrared camera for locating areas of temperature differential in a building.

USDA BioPreferredSM Program – BioPreferredSM Products are commercial or industrial products (other than food or feed) composed wholly or in significant part of biological products including renewable agricultural materials (plant, animal, and marine materials) or forestry materials. Under the USDA BioPreferredSM Program, spray-in-place plastic foam products designed to provide a sealed thermal barrier for residential or commercial construction applications must meet a Minimum Biobased Content of 7%.  ICYNENE LD-R-50® exceeds the minimum renewable requirement for a biobased material and can contribute toward a building’s achievement of credits/points under various national green building programs.

U-Value - Overall thermal conductance. U value is equal to the inverse of the sum of the R-values in a system (U = 1 /R total).

Vapour Diffusion Retarder/Barrier - A layer of moisture resistant material usually which controls moisture diffusion (defined as less than 1 perm) to prevent moisture build up in the walls.

Viscosity - The thickness or resistance to flow of a liquid. Viscosity generally decreases as temperature increases; application temperatures of insulation spray foam components are specified in part, to control viscosity at the spray gun.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) - Any compound containing carbon and hydrogen or containing carbon and hydrogen in combination with other elements.


AISI - American Iron & Steel Institute
ALA - American Lung Association
ANSI - American National Standards Institute
ASE - Alliance to Save Energy
ASHRAE - American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
ASTM - American Society for Testing and Materials
BETEC - Building Environment & Thermal Envelope Council
BOCA - Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. 
CABO (ICC) - Conference of American Building Officials (International Code Council)
CCMC - Canadian Construction Materials Centre
CHPS – Collaborative for High Performance Schools
CSA - Canadian Standards Association
DOE - U.S. Department of Energy
EEBA - Energy and Environmental Building Association
EERE - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearing House (DOE program)
EPA - Environmental Protection Agency
EPP - Environmentally Preferable Product
FSEC - Florida Solar Energy Center
IAQA - Indoor Air Quality Association
IBACOS - Integrated Building And Construction Solutions 
IBC - International Building Code
ICBO - International Conference of Building Officials
ICC - International Code Council
LEED - Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design
NAHB - National Association of Home Builders
NAHBRC - NAHB Research Center
NBC - National Building Code of Canada
NEAT - Novel Environmental Advanced Technology
NER - National Evaluation Report
NES - National Evaluation Service, Inc.
NIBS - National Institute of Building Sciences
NIST - National Institute of Standards and Technology
NRC - National Research Council of Canada
ORNL - Oak Ridge National Laboratory
PBDE - polybrominated diphenylethers
SBCCI - Southern Building Codes Congress International
USBIC - Sustainable Buildings Industry Council
UBC - Uniform Building Code
UL - Underwriters Laboratories
ULC - Underwriters' Laboratories Canada
USGBC - United States Green Building Council