“There are still architects that don’t know what an IMP is,” Irwin says. “IMPs serve the institutional, commercial, industrial, cold-storage and architectural markets within the building products industry. They can be a significant part of a total envelope solution, managing rainwater penetration, controlling air leakage and acting as continuous insulation.”
IMPs can be custom-fabricated to meet the goals of a design while integrating with windows, louvers, sunscreens and other accessories. Panels can be fabricated anywhere from 1 1/2-inch thick to 8-inches thick, providing R-values from 10 to 40 without thermal breaks. “Panels feature male-female interlock with a horizontal and vertical joint you can seal. Usually there is a continuous gasket or an insulated vertical joint,” Irwin says.
IMPs often can be installed over existing substrates. “An IMP fastens to the structure of the building to control air and water penetration,” he adds. In fact, MCA has released a paper, titled “Controlling Air and Rainwater Using Insulated Metal Panel Enclosure Systems”. It can be found on MCA’s website, under “Technical Resources” and the Insulated Metal Panels dropdown.
An Additional Layer of Protection
Robert Wadsworth, chair of the PR and Membership Committee for RIMA International, Lenexa, Kan., describes reflective insulations as products that consist of reflective, low-e surfaces on one or both sides of a substrate, which can be a variety of materials, like polyethylene bubble film or foam. “The difference between a reflective insulation and what we consider conventional insulation is that conventional insulation slows heat transfer by resisting its passage through that material, so it doesn’t penetrate into the occupied space of a building that you’re trying to keep conditioned,” Wadsworth explains. “Reflective insulation reflects 95 percent of the heat that strikes it, so most of the heat never gets beyond the reflective surface.”
Wadsworth says there is still confusion in the building industry surrounding reflective products; insulation education has been focused on conductive heat transfer because it’s easy to measure. “With conventional insulation, the rate of heat transfer through the material can be easily measured in a laboratory. From the standpoint of being able to guide consumers, it’s helpful to have a benchmark that can be supported by controlled testing,” he says. “Reflective insulations also have standard test methods to determine their performance in various applications but they’re a little more difficult to understand than just an R-value. That’s because the R-value of a reflective insulation is dependent upon the direction of the heat flow and the size and amount of air spaces facing the reflective surfaces. The R-value for a conventional insulation is essentially the same regardless of the direction of the heat flow.”
As part of its approach to educate the marketplace, RIMA International hosts an “Ask the Expert” area on its website.
“People who have questions about reflective insulation or have a special application can ask questions and typically receive a response within 24 hours,” Wadsworth notes. “We’ve been able to save consumers a lot of money and advise them against potentially disastrous applications.”
Although reflective insulations are designed to stop heat transfer, Wadsworth stresses they are not the only insulation material you may need in your structure. “It very much depends on the climate,” he says. “There are winter conditions where other insulation materials are as important as reflective materials. Often combining conventional and reflective insulation in a building system is the best performance option—but remember to provide an air space facing the reflective surface.”
Based on the information shared by these industry experts, it’s important to complete your due diligence and rely on a knowledgeable local consultant to ensure your next insulation installation meets your building’s specific needs.
Ask the Insulation Experts
Interested in locating a member from one of these organizations? Visit the following websites:
North American Insulation Manufacturers Association
Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance
Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association
Metal Construction Association IMP Members