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The Next Evolution Of Insulated Metal Panels: Halogen-Free Enhanced Fire Protection

Above and below are examples of projects using CENTRIA's Formawall® insulated metal panels with halogen-free foam cores.

Exploring The Performance And Sustainability Benefits Of Formawall With Halogen-Free Enhanced Fire Protection

By Kim Rager, CENTRIA

In 1999, CENTRIA launched Formawall® Dimension Series®, the first architectural insulated composite wall system in the industry to provide variable panel thickness, multiple reveal depths, and a variety of profiles. Hailed the “product of the millennium,” Formawall insulated metal panels redefined the use of metal building envelopes, providing advanced thermal efficiency and moisture control in a single, easy-to-install component.

Aesthetic and performance enhancements over the product’s timeline include the introduction of Formawall Dimension Series Graphix (FWGX), which provides the option to segment panels along the module width; the Formawall Seal Plate option, an extruded aluminum backer plate that provides a second line of defense against the weather; standard Formawall IMV joinery, an insulated metal vertical joint that provides all-metal aesthetics; in addition to high-performance Formavue Windows and other integrated components.

The latest evolution of Formawall enables the architectural community to push the envelope further and create a more sustainable building environment, thanks to the removal of red-list halogens from the product’s insulating foam core. This voluntary product enhancement aligns building owners and architects with today’s ever-evolving sustainability goals and standards, while actually improving the product’s fire performance.

The Assurance Of Halogen-Free

Throughout the construction materials industry, Halogenated Flame Retardants (HFRs) are added to building products to inhibit ignition or flame spread on the material’s surface in the event of a fire. HFRs are compounds containing chlorine and bromine, and are classified as Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxins (PBTs). These PBTs can accumulate in organisms and the building environment and have been shown to present health risks.

CENTRIA’s objective with the launch of Formawall with Halogen-Free Enhanced Fire Protection was to remain proactive with rapidly changing architectural building product trends, particularly regarding sustainability. Sustainable building materials are becoming increasingly popular with architects and building owners, as they provide long-term solutions to ecological, health, safety or other concerns brought on by traditional architectural building products.

CENTRIA chose to innovate, seeking a halogen-free alternative for the insulating foam core in our premier line of insulated metal panels, all while maintaining the industry’s leading aesthetic and performance features. The latest iteration of Formawall is not only red-list free, but delivers an improved level of fire performance with regard to flame-spread rating and smoke development.

Enhanced Fire Protection That Comes Standard

centria-formawall-halogen-free-4Formawall is currently the only foam-insulated metal panel system with halogen-free enhanced fire protection that comes standard. The product is also the most comprehensively tested insulated metal panel system on the market today.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285 standard provides a fire test procedure for evaluating flammability characteristics of exterior walls assemblies, including panels and components. Because NFPA 285 is an assembly test, all wall components must be tested together to be considered compliant.

Formawall with Halogen-Free Enhanced Fire Protection surpasses the current required protocols for the NFPA 285 complete wall assembly test to simulate real-world applications of the Formawall system, with both steel tube and steel stud construction and features such as flashings or extrusions, variable striations, multiple reveal configurations, varying widths, vertical gaskets, IMV and other options. Specifiers can be confident that every Formawall panel—in every configuration—passes NFPA 285 without the aid of fire-resistant interior gypsum.

Formawall with Halogen-Free Enhanced Fire Protection is also the only insulated metal panel with FM 4882 certification at the highest level for smoke-sensitive environments, including pharmaceutical, clean room or similar occupancies. FM 4882 is an approval standard for smoke-sensitive occupancies. The standard features two, distinct levels of performance for wall and ceiling materials or systems: systems “approved for use in pharmaceutical manufacturing and storage areas, food preparation and storage areas or similar occupancies” and, the more stringent, systems “approved for use in cleanroom or similar occupancies.” Formawall meets both smoke-sensitive levels.

Full Product Transparency

There is a growing awareness about what goes into the products that make up our world. The architectural industry is seeing the effects as well, which are reflected in new, more holistic sustainable building standards. Included in these standards is a deeper look at how building materials affect our indoor and outdoor environments.

The latest LEED® standards are helping to drive the industry trend towards product transparency. LEED prerequisites require greater transparency of product material contents as well as the manufacturing process to help architects and designers make more informed decisions about what goes on to—and into—their buildings.

Environmental product declarations (EPDs) and health product declarations (HPDs) are two voluntary tools that can help designers and architects select a more sustainable insulated metal panel system. An EPD states the environmental impact through the product life cycle, from manufacturing to recycling. An HPD discloses any potentially harmful chemicals in a product. It compares product ingredients to a set “hazard” list based on information from government agencies.

Formawall is the subject of a Health Product Declaration (HPD), providing total material transparency. In addition, the Formawall insulated metal wall panel system is UL-listed for both US and Canada, North America’s seal of approval for safety.

The Same Industry-Leading Performance

Formawall’s halogen-free insulating core is factory foamed in place, completely filling all voids in the panel joinery to avoid cold spots and reducing the risk of condensation, overall. Formawall panels also include a thermal break between the panel face and liner. At the maximum 3”-T thickness, Formawall achieves an exceptional R-value of 22 to meet even the most challenging thermal performance requirements.

Formawall is an all-in-one system, providing the exterior rainscreen, air and moisture barrier, and thermal insulation in a single component. Formawall panels can be installed vertically or horizontally, are ideal for all climates, and can be coated with a number of high-performance finishes that offer minimal maintenance and excellent aesthetic options.

In addition, the weathertight nature of Formawall insulated metal panels reduces overall heating and cooling costs and minimizes the likelihood of moisture and mold, which can be harmful to occupants. Insulated metal panels like Formawall offer quick and simple installation, reducing construction waste and maintenance. These performance and sustainability benefits lend insulated metal panels LEED® credit opportunities.

Formawall also meets the call for advanced integration capabilities. The insulated metal panels are specifically engineered to integrate with CENTRIA’s high-performance line of Formavue® window systems for a thermally efficient window-panel interface. Other integrated components include sunshades and louvers from Construction Specialties.


Formawall with Halogen-Free Enhanced Fire Protection provides building owners with a safer occupant environment and offers architects and engineers improved performance and sustainability metrics. Visit CENTRIA.com/Reformulate for more information.

About the author: Kim Rager, CENTRIA Product Manager – Insulated Metal Panels, oversees strategic product planning, sales strategy, and market analysis for Formawall, CENTRIA’s premier line of insulated metal panels, as well as industrial/commercial foam products.


CENTRIA, a Nucor company, supplies a variety of architetural metal wall and roof systems. For more information, visit CENTRIA.com.

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