Choosing the Right Building Material for Superior R-Values and Thermal Performance

R-Value of Insulated Metal Panels
There are three letters that can make all the difference when it comes to choosing building materials that will keep buildings cool during the summer and warm during the winter: “K”, “U” and “R.”
K-value represents thermal connectivity, measuring a material’s ability to conduct heat. The lower the K-value, the better the materials are at keeping the building envelope insulated. U-factor measures how much heat is transmitted through a building envelope assembly, like an insulated metal panel system. The lower the number, the better the total system is at insulating the building. Finally,  R-value measures a single product’s thermal resistance to heat flow. The greater the R-value, the better the thermal resistance.  Insulated metal panels with a PIR or QuadCore® insulation core get between 7.2-8 R-values per inch, which is on the higher end of the R-value spectrum.
Airtight insulated metal panels with maximum thermal resistance (R-value) are increasingly important in the construction industry’s drive to meet specific energy targets. Architects and builders use R-values to select building materials that are most effective in inhibiting energy loss. That’s why insulated metal panels are a popular choice as a building material with high R-values.
R-Value is calculated as R = l/λ where l = the thickness of the material and λ (lambda) is the thermal conductivity of the material in ft2·°F·h/BTU. R-value represents the resistance of heat transfer through a single product, like insulated metal panels. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation performance. ASTM C518 is the most common test method used to determine R-value. It is one of the easiest and most accurate tests, used by manufacturers, such as Kingspan Insulated Panels, to test quality control.
There are a few different choices for insulation, ranging from PUR, which can be injected into wall cavities, to PIR and mineral fiber, which can all be used in an insulated metal panel system. Mineral fiber has an R-value of about 3 per inch, while PIR has an R-value of about 7 per inch. Insulated metal panels using Kingspan’s QuadCore® insulation core reach an R-value of up to 8 per inch, which makes it one of the highest performing insulation products on the market.
Increasingly stringent energy codes are creating an imperative for selecting materials with high R-values. Building codes like the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which establishes the minimum energy efficiency standards for commercial and residential construction in the nation, have consistently increased minimum R-value requirements for new construction and some retrofits with the goal of reducing energy consumption. In a further nod toward the importance of R-value, the IECC’s recently released 2021 model code also included a requirement for commercial buildings to display a Thermal Envelope Certificate listing the R-values of insulation.
Building materials with high R-values are also more cost effective to operate. Thermally efficient insulated metal panels reduce heat loss and energy consumption which lowers building operational costs. With an ‘envelope first’ design approach, the superior R-value of insulated metal panels not only reduces energy usage costs but also has the potential to reduce HVAC system sizing. QuadCore® delivers these energy costs savings year after year with a 30-year thermal performance warranty – the industry’s longest thermal performance warranty.
As QuadCore’s® class-leading R-value of 8 per inch helps meet modern building requirements for thermal performance, the technology does all this in a sustainable way. A recent study revealed that QuadCore® panels contain far lower levels of embodied carbon than other industrial claddings. Taking a green building approach in materials selection with QuadCore® panels reduces embodied carbon which alone is responsible for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
There is no question that R-value is an important measure for meeting the energy efficiency, thermal performance and operational cost saving imperatives of the built environment today. Kingspan’s QuadCore® technology delivers on all of these imperatives and it does all this with a focus on sustainability. So, while the formula representing R-value can be complex, making smart choices for thermally efficient building materials is not.

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