- Join the growing list of projects saying “NO” to Kingspan
- Questions to ask project owners, architects, and the people responsible for safety
- Questions architects, contractors and public officials should ask Kingspan
- Questions you may have about SMART
- Who else is taking action?
- Kingspan family of products/brand names
- The Report: Kingspan and the Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Join the growing list of projects saying “NO” to Kingspan
In March of 2022, the School Building Committee of Westwood, Massachusetts voted to reverse the proprietary specification of Kingspan’s Kooltherm K15 for a planned $88 million school project after we notified them of evidence about Kingspan’s approach to fire testing and marketing from the Grenfell Inquiry in the U.K. We are aware of similar actions taken by architects, officials, and project owners in the U.S. since 2022.:
“We will refrain from specifically naming Kingspan as an acceptable manufacturer for future projects.”
– Procurement & Contract Director, subsidiary of the Housing Authority for the City of Milwaukee
“Please confirm these are the specs for your project. If so, we would strongly recommend not allowing this product.”
– Captain/ Fire Inspector for Dexter, Michigan, to City Manager and Architects overseeing a city project with Kingspan listed as an approved supplier of insulation boards
“We will continue to monitor future construction projects to ensure that this product is not used.”
– Director of Building Programs for Alvin Independent School District in Texas
“We are cognizant of Kingspan’s issues and are not currently specifying them.”
– Steven D. Shows, AIA, Principal Architect, VSG Architects, Southwest Louisiana
“Our intent is to remove Kingspan insulation from our projects until further clarification/testing is done to verify required fire safety concerns and regulations. We have already taken the steps to remove Kooltherm K15 from our upcoming projects.”
– Project Architect, Davis Architects, Birmingham, Alabama
“We have also removed Kingspan from our master specification.”
– Brian Wolf, Principal, Garmann Miller, Columbus, Ohio
“We are working with the staff at City of Lenexa and making changes to our specifications to use products from a different brand for this project. We will avoid using Kingspan on other projects we may do in the future.”
– Architectural Designer, B&A Architecture, Kansas City, Missouri
“We as the State of West Virginia refuse this product anywhere on our premises and request diligence during the submittal process that no Kingspan KoolTherm K15 product be allowed in, on, or utilized in our HVAC renovation project.”
– Patrick O’Neill, Building Project Management Specialist, General Services Division, West Virginia
“Yes TBA Studio will avoid products by Kingspan until this situation is worked out.” – Dale DeMoss, Quality Control, TBA Studio, West Monroe, Louisiana
“We have removed the Kingspan product[s] from our master spec and informed the general contractor not to use [them] on any of their construction projects as well. They agreed to remove [them] from their list as well. Our team will make sure to remove [Kingspan] from our spec and drawings forward.” – David Seongbae Kim, Principal, CORBeL Architects, Los Angeles, California
Questions to ask project owners, architects, and the people responsible for safety:
Why haven’t the architects / owners acted on the evidence from the Grenfell Inquiry and said “NO” to kingspan?
- We have a rare window into Kingspan’s business practices because a small amount of its Kooltherm K15 insulation was used in London’s Grenfell Tower, which burned in a catastrophic fire in 2017, killing 72 people. Kingspan managers were called to testify and provide statements in the government inquiry into the fire.
- The Inquiry revealed, for example, how Kingspan used, until late 2020, a 2005 fire test to market its K15 insulation in the United Kingdom despite the fact that it had introduced a more combustible version in 2006. Kingspan kept secret large-scale tests on the newer version from 2007 and 2008 that failed (one of which had turned into a “raging inferno,” as reported in Kingspan’s own internal report).
- To SMART’s knowledge, there have been no independent investigations into Kingspan’s U.S. business related to fire safety testing and marketing, or into its testing and marketing of products other than K15.
- The experts leading your project should have been aware of these issues and avoided putting your community in the position of having to trust a company with such a record.
How can we replace Kingspan with a different product? Who decides?
- Both architects and public officials are well within their rights to ban Kingspan products based upon the revelations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Indeed, they have sound reasons in the public interest to do so. See examples of others taking such actions. There are substitutes for many Kingspan products on the market.
- The public officials responsible for your building might try to leave the decision up to the architect, but local officials have the power to decide. For example, the Westwood Massachusetts School Building Committee voted unanimously to rewrite the plans for their $88 million school project to remove a Kingspan product after learning about this evidence.
- Companies and institutions are also severing ties with Kingspan. Click here to see a list.
Are there substitutes available?
- Most building specifications will list multiple manufacturers to choose from. Substitutes for many Kingspan products exist, or architects can recommend a different system, as happened with the Westwood School. Kingspan is operating under many brand names. Ask the architect if any of these brands are specified for your project.
Tell decision makers: Talk to Kingspan about the costs and risks for our community.
- If the Kingspan product isn’t already installed, it should be relatively easy to replace it. There are substitutes for many Kingspan products on the market. If your project has already installed a Kingspan product, ask the architect to demand that Kingspan assume responsibility for the costs incurred in having to remove it.
- In the aftermath of Grenfell, the U.K.’s “Cladding Scandal” means that hundreds of thousands of tenants and owners face bills of tens of thousands of dollars in remedial work to replace insulation and cladding now identified as unsafe. Owners have been unable to sell or re-mortgage their homes because of uncertainty about fire safety, while living in homes where they fear for their lives. Cost estimates for resolving this crisis in the UK are estimated at over $60 billion.
Questions architects, contractors and public officials should ask Kingspan
Ask Kingspan: Will the company make public the results of any internal audits related to fire testing, certification and marketing?
- To SMART’s knowledge, there have been no independent investigations into Kingspan’s U.S. business related to fire safety testing, or into its testing of products other than K15.
- We are not claiming that any specific Kingspan products are unsafe. School district leaders and project architects have to be able to trust that the product specified for a building will be the same product tested and certified according to the manufacturer’s marketing materials. The Grenfell Inquiry was a window into Kingspan’s insulation business in the United Kingdom. It is up to project owners, architects, and school district leaders to protect themselves from companies that have such a track record.
If Kingspan’s K15 insulation, which is manufactured in the United KinGDOM, was used in your building, was it from a batch of the product that was subject to a recall in the United Kingdom between August 2021- May 2022?
- Under U.K. regulations, the company is required to contact any person supplied with affected product, those in the supply chain and final customers to arrange the return of all affected product, that has not been incorporated into buildings.
- SMART is not aware whether Kingspan communicated this information in U.S. markets.
- If your product was installed any time after August 2021, the product may be affected, including if it was installed after May 2022, as products are often warehoused before installation.
Questions you may have about SMART
- Don’t be confused by Kingspan’s effort to sidestep these issues by raising a labor dispute with SMART. We are not asking your project to get involved in any labor dispute, although workers in three Kingspan factories are represented by SMART and workers in two others have approached us. Our members build the most sophisticated green buildings in the country, manufacture energy efficient products, ensure construction is done safely and reliably, protect indoor air quality, and conduct fire and life safety testing.
- Kingspan has stated that the information we provide about their fire safety record are “misleading allegations,” but the facts we provide are not allegations. Rather they are evidence compiled from testimony provided under oath in the Grenfell Inquiry by the company’s own managers and employees, as well as the company’s own documents and internal sources.
Who else is taking action?
Companies and institutions are severing ties with Kingspan. In 2022, the United States Green Building Council, the administering body of LEED Green Building Certification, confirmed that Kingspan was no longer a sponsor of its USGBC Live event series.
Also in 2022, the American Institute of Architects website stopped featuring Kingspan on it as an AIA sponsor or provider of AIA continuing education courses (past courses on fire safety have been scrubbed from the site).
In 2021, after evidence from the Inquiry emerged, the firm’s largest and long-term shareholder Baillie Gifford divested of the firm, along with WHEB, Guinness Sustainable Energy, Liontrust, and Janus Henderson Investors.
In December of 2021, Mercedes ended a commercial partnership with Kingspan just one week after the deal was announced.
Kingspan family of products/brand names
Kingspan Group has acquired many companies, and continues to do business under some of those brand names in the United States. Below is a list of products. If your project includes Kooltherm K15, be aware that this was the same product investigated by the government Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire in the U.K., where it is manufactured. In addition, batches of K15 made between August 1, 2021 and March 8, 2022 were recalled by the U.K. regulator. In the wake of the 2021-2022 testimony and evidence by present and former Kingspan employees and managers, we encourage project owners, architects and contractors to find alternatives to Kingspan products.
Click on the three categories below to see a dropdown list of products and brand names.
ARCHITECTURAL INSULATED PANELS
- KS Granitestone
- KS Series
- Karrier Panel
- All Weather Insulated Panels (AWIP)
- RD1 Roof Deck
- fire Rated Wall Panel
- AD150, 200, 275, 300 series wall panels
- FASSADE insulated wall system
- GreenGuard products (multiple insulation and moisture barrier products)
- Type IV Insulation Board (closed–cell extruded polystyrene XPS)
- FQ250 Fanfold Underlayment
- FQ350 Fanfold Underlayment
- P1450 Fanfold Underlayment
- PB4Waterproofing Protection Board
- PB6 Roofing Cover Board
- PB6HD Roofing Cover Board
- Plygood Sheathing
- Q250 Fanfold underlayment
- Q350 Fanfold Underlayment
- SLX Sheathing
- Type VI Insulation board
- Type VII Insulation board
- XFP14 Fanfold Underlayment
- XFP38 Fanfold Underlayment
- K15 Rainscreen board
- K10 Soffit Board
- K12 Framing board
- K20 sandwich board
- K8 cavity board
- K9 internal insulation board
OTHER INSULATION-RELATED PRODUCT FAMILIES
- Diversifoam family of products:
- CertiFoam 15 (XPS)
- CertiFoam 25 SE & SL
- CertiFoam 40
- CertiFoam Drainage Board
- Certiite Drainage Board
- Styro Pour-Pak
- R-Flex sidewall with Flexedge
- The Foiler faced sheathing
- RayLite Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
- RayLite EPS Backer Board- siding insulator & Underlayment
- R-Tite Sill Plate Gasket
- Tate Access Floors
- ConCore Panels
- All Steel Panels
- Cavity Floor Panels
- Stoneworks Panels
- PowerAire Quad
- Multi-Zone Opposed Blade Damper
- Dual-Zone Opposed Blade Damper
- Single-Zone Opposed Blade Damper
- Slide Damper
- Hot Aisle/ Cold Aisle data containment systems