Sustainable construction can be described as the process of reducing the environmental impact of a building over its entire lifetime, while optimizing its economic viability and the comfort and safety of its occupants.

About half our energy is used in buildings and the growing middle classes, especially in the emerging economies, increasingly want greater comfort provided by home heating and cooling. Energy demand in existing buildings can be reduced by 30 to 50 percent through retrofitting insulation. In new buildings, energy usage can be reduced even more with polyurethane insulation.

Among all solutions proposed to the energy problem, including alternative energy sources, experts agree that building insulation is the least costly option for reducing carbon dioxide emissions (Source: McKinsey and Company). Among the various building insulation options, polyurethane insulation is generally considered by experts to be one of the most effective insulation product choices.

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Manufacturing sustainability

Manufacturing polyurethane insulation uses less than 0.1% of the total amount of fossil fuels consumed per annum. The material can also save more than 100 times that amount over the course of its lifetime. Additionally, polyurethane insulation maintains high performance over time; ensuring energy and CO2 savings can be sustained, long-term.

Economic benefits:

  • Reduce lifecycle costs in many new build and refurbishment applications
  • Lower maintenance with reduced running costs for building owners
  • Achieve higher return on investment rates
  • Deliver cost savings because of improved energy efficiency

Lifecycle assessment

Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) conducted by industry associations have demonstrated the sustainability of polyurethane insulation. LCAs assess environmental impact associated with all the stages of a product's life from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance and disposal or recycling. For polyurethane insulation products, much more energy is saved when these products are used in buildings, compared to the energy used to make them. The LCAs have also shown that the environmental impact on other categories, such as eutrophication, acidification, and ozone depletion are all minimal.

Benefits of polyurethane insulation

  • Reduction of Green house gas (GHG) emissions
  • Reduction of energy usage to heat and cool buildings
  • Reduction in construction material
  • Reduction in size and extended life of heating and cooling units
  • Elimination of air leakage between attic and living space
  • Healthier indoor air quality

*Lifecycle Environmental and Economic Analysis of Polyurethane Insulation in Low Energy Buildings. PU Europe factsheet 15, 2010

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