The requirements of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) will require extensive use of continuous insulation (CI) on the exterior of the studs to reduce thermal bridging and make the exterior walls more energy efficient. The requirement will apply to commercial and residential projects alike. The constructability issue of exterior wall systems to include the CI has and will present new challenges for contractors and codes alike. ASTM C1063, Standard Specification for Installation of Lathing and Furring to Receive Interior and Exterior Portland Cement-Based Plaster, will have to be revamped to recognize and include means and methods that facilitate this new construction.
An excerpt from the Final Report on a project funded cooperatively by the Steel Framing Alliance and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority called “Siding Attachment to Cold-Formed Steel Walls Through Varying Layers of Foam Insulation,” states the following: “A significant implementation challenge caused by increasingly higher levels of continuous insulation is the lack of specifications for the type of fastener and siding installation details that should be used when installing thicker levels of insulation. Thus, the engineer, architect, builder and contractor are left to confront this challenge without clear guidance. Without clear building code requirements, the builder and code official also face the potential for conflicting code requirements between the building section of the code, which often cites manufacturer instructions, and the energy section of the code that goes beyond the scope of the same instructions.”
Additionally, it has been my sincere belief and that of many other lath and plaster people across this country that the current ASTM C1063 standard was not written to be a document that is a part of the International Building Code. Initially ASTM Standards were written to be minimum standard reference documents. With their adoption by reference into the 2006 ICC Building Codes, the documents are now being used unfairly to restrict alternative methods of construction and to punish quality installations by contractors just because they do not strictly meet the written word in the C1063 Standard. It is time to make the C1063 Standard a document that is intended to be codified and results in quality installations, and not just a prescriptive document that does not guarantee performance.
The current C1063 Standard is a prescriptive document. It does not guarantee results. It does not recognize different construction practices in different parts of the country. It does not recognize alternative methods of accomplishing different tasks. With the impetus given the construction industry to make changes in the standards to meet the new energy code requirements, it is time to convert the C1063 Standard to a performance based standard that does not penalize good contractors for using proven, successful alternative means and methods and will allow flexibility in adapting to actual construction situations.
To the naysayers, this is not an effort to “water down the C1063 Standard.” In fact, the goal is just the opposite. By making the C1063 Standard a performance based standard and using the requirements as outlined in the Construction Specification Institute’s Manual of Practice, the furring and lathing installations should represent more innovation and quality. Manufacturers and contractors would be challenged to prove their ideas and installation techniques based on a set of adopted standards that can be proven and quantified. Proven innovation should not be stifled by the personal whims or agendas of a few. Today’s standard says, “No matter what, just do it like this.” Where would construction be in America today if we still had to build everything by a prescriptive standard with roots in the 1950s?
This is intended to be a very open and transparent process allowing input by all. However, given the timetable set by the adoption of the 2012 IECC currently requiring CI in several states and set to apply to all states in 2012, we have precious little time to argue and bicker over petty and meaningless items. The AWCI Energy Code Task Force is working to design baseline construction techniques that will be tested for compliance and constructability once the final numbers have been published outlining the different zones and required U-values for each zone. States such as California and New York have already adopted their own Energy Code, and contractors in those areas are trying to adapt on the fly. The Western Conference of Wall and Ceiling Institutes has published a document meant to give architects and contractors an idea of the challenges to be faced in trying to adapt to the new energy requirements. They have done this by saying, “C1063 be damned.” AWCI wants to be proactive as well. The rewriting of ASTM C1063 is a critical component of this proactive position.
Jobs must be protected. Contractors must be protected. Manufacturers must be protected. While the CI requirement presents challenges for all types of exterior claddings, the lath and plaster industry must be ready to perform. We cannot sit idly by because other cladding groups are not. We cannot place more than 100,000 jobs at risk because we failed to act in a timely manner.
With the inclusion of the CI in the exterior wall, all known cement-based fire-rated walls have been declared null and void. What must happen? New wall types that can be constructed and meet the test requirements must be designed and tested. You cannot do that using current ASTM C1063 guidelines.
It is imperative to get the advice and input from successful professional contractors and applicators. The trained, men and women working on the scaffolding and their even more experienced supervisors including the contractors they work for represent a vast resource of expertise. This standard needs to reflect how we build in the 21st century. We must merge the practical (field) resources with manufacturing and design firms dedicated to research and development through the testing and proving of systems based on materials and engineering practices not available when most of the contents of the ASTM C1063 Standard were first drafted.
As chairman of the AWCI Energy Task Force Group and as Chairman of the newly formed ASTM Task Force to adapt C1063 to the requirements of the IECC, I urge each and every one to get behind this effort to create a new ASTM C1063, Standard Specification for Installation of Lathing and Furring to Receive Interior and Exterior Portland Cement-Based Plaster, that will bring our industry into compliance with the IECC; make us competitive in the exterior cladding industry and reduce the liability exposure to contractors from the antiquated language of the current C1063 standard. I urge you to join and become active in your local, state and national industry associations. I urge you to join ASTM and have your voice heard.
Mike Boyd is a former AWCI president and Pinnacle Award winner. He is a longtime contractor who has owned businesses in Texas and Arizona. He is now a consultant [more details to come] and chairman of the AWCI Energy Task Force Group.