The New American Home 2021 and Fi-Foil Tackle Florida Heat and Humidity
Products used: Fi-Foil Flex Foam Reflective Insulation and Fi-Foil M-Shield™ Project location: Winter Park, FL
The Vision: Turning Convention on its (Mouse) Ear
As a leading tourist destination worldwide, Central Florida is known for its white-sand beaches, upscale dining and lively theme parks (think Mickey Mouse). Today, Central Florida has one more accolade to add to the list – a stunning showcase home that highlights green-building solutions with a modern and approachable flair.
Since 1984, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has showcased modern design, innovation and efficiency in The New American Home (TNAH) as a catalyst for contemporary architectural inspiration and the latest in energy efficiency strategy. The 2021 TNAH, unveiled at the virtual International Builders Show (IBSx) set for Feb. 9-12, turns conventional housing upside down to meld an urban/suburban setting with livable outdoor spaces.
The state-of-the-art 2021 TNAH – located in Winter Park, just outside Orlando – already earned many of the leading accreditations and accolades as a design and construction standard for efficiency and healthier living.
Fi-Foil’s Flex Foam™ reflective insulation and M-Shield™ paperless reflective insulation were two of the products specified in the 2021 TNAH thermal envelope to keep the home comfortable and reach the target HERS Index.
The Implementation: Thermal Performance Solutions and Moisture Control
The home, by the Florida-based Phil Kean Design Group (PKDG), utilizes a tight 0.12-acre plot. The three-story concept has a flipped floor plan with the living areas on the top to showcase natural light and breathtaking views (including nearby Disney World fireworks and NASA launches on clear days), all within walking distance of eateries, boutiques and SunRail, the area’s commuter rail service.
Because thermal efficiency is essential to TNAH, particularly in a hot climate with high daily humidity levels, PKDG looked to insulation that could deliver R-values while guarding against moisture problems. In Central Florida, where air conditioners essentially run year-round, proper insulation is critical to lower energy bills and more comfortable living spaces.
The answer was Fi-Foil’s Flex Foam, which provides a continuous insulation solution with a Low-e aluminum reinforced facing to reduce up to 96% of radiant heat transfer. The half-inch closed-cell polyethylene foam is perforated to allow for vapor transmission and coated for long-term performance and corrosion resistance, making it a better alternative to traditional foam board. It also reduces thermal bridging, so homes remain cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Flex Foam was used in conjunction with Fi-Foil’s M-Shield™ to improve overall thermal performance. M-Shield, a cellulose-free multilayer reflective insulation, resists microscopic fungal growth, reducing the mold and mildew common in high-humidity environments.
Together, Flex Foam and M-Shield, when used in a three-quarter-inch enclosed air space, creates a thermal value of R-5.7. The result is better energy efficiency and healthier indoor air quality.
Product Selection: High-Performance Insulation for a Next-Generation Home
A goal of all TNAH projects is to showcase forward-looking technology and energy efficiency. Architect and Builder Phil Kean said Fi-Foil checked all the boxes for use in TNAH. In recent years, Kean has utilized Fi-Foil reflective insulation products in his home designs, including previous TNAH and TNAR (The New American Remodel) homes.
PKDG and the NAHB’s Leading Suppliers Council looked to Fi-Foil’s Flex Foam and M-Shield as their chosen products because of their outstanding thermal performance. Some of Flex Foam’s attractive benefits that influenced the decision to use it in the 2021 TNAH include:
- Provides R-1.6 continuous insulation
- Provides R-4.5 when used with three-quarter-inch enclosed cavity air space
- Each roll equals eight sheets of foam board insulation
- Ideal for masonry block construction
- Can be used alone, part of a wall system or as a high-performance building wrap
They also found:
- Flex Foam and M-Shield are ideal for hot-humid climates because they allow for vapor transmission, particularly in concrete block construction such as TNAH 2021.
- Together, Flex Foam and M-Shield create a thin profile in the building envelope. The slimmed-down walls mean superior thermal performance with increased livable square footage.
- The lightweight reflective insulation allows for effortless installation offering builders an alternative to foam board. In the TNAH 2021, Flex Foam and M-Shield installation took just one day for all three floors.
In addition to Flex Foam and M-Shield, Kean specified foam insulation in the concrete block cores and utilized solar roof panels for improved energy efficiency. A smart fresh-air system was used to maintain air quality throughout.
The Results: Increased R-Value for Florida’s Undecided Weather
At first glance, the stacked 5,536-square-foot home looks to be a modern masterpiece with indoor-outdoor living spaces, oversized windows and an elevator. A closer look under the walls reveals its marvels – ultra-efficient green technology to offset the heat of Central Florida summers and occasional winter cold snaps (yes, they do happen).
The end results speak for themselves:
- HERS Index without solar panel system: 46
- HERS Index with solar panel system: -16
- LEED Gold certification
- National Green Building Standard Emerald-level certification
- EPA Indoor airPlus certification
- Wellness Within Your Walls standards.
For Kean, the finished home demonstrates the hard work and quality materials put into the dwelling, including Fi-Foil reflective insulation solutions.
“We always learn a lot from TNAH projects,” Kean said. “Fi-Foil’s technologies continue to stand out to maximize thermal performance. I will continue to use Fi-Foil in our homes.”