Building insulation

Buildings currently waste a large proportion of the energy that goes into them. This energy heats up the earth instead of our homes, wastes money and increases our dependence on foreign energy supply. The estimated 160 million buildings in Europe, for example, account for more than 40% of the European Union’s energy consumption and 36% of our CO2 emissions. Finding ways of lowering the carbon footprint of buildings is therefore all the more vital.

The most important application of polyurethanes in buildings is insulation. Polyurethanes are regarded as an affordable, durable and safe way of reducing carbon emissions that lead to global warming. Polyurethanes can dramatically reduce heat loss in homes and offices in cold weather. During the summer, they play an important role in keeping buildings cool, which means air conditioning is needed less.

Insulation is usually found in:

  • cavity walls
  • roofs
  • around pipes
  • around boilers
  • floors

In practice, good insulation means keeping heat inside in cold climates and outside in warm climates.

In the EU, more than 40% of fossil fuel-based energy, and hence CO2 emissions, is associated with the heating and cooling of buildings. Wider application of existing technology based on rigid polyurethane foam across the EU would reduce overall CO2 emissions by 10%, enabling the EU to meet its Kyoto commitments by 2010.

There are multiple advantages to using polyurethanes in buildings:

  • Buildings last longer and require less maintenance because of the durability of polyurethanes.
  • Rigid insulation panels made from polyurethanes are light but strong, moisture-resistant and easy to install.
  • Insulation panels and other types of foam insulation can retain their energy-efficient properties for as long as the building exists.
  • Compared to other forms of insulation, polyurethane foams are much more space-efficient, allowing architects and designers to maximise use of internal spaces.
  • Rigid polyurethane spray foam is particularly versatile and efficient for upgrading older buildings.
  • Not only do polyurethanes have a good story to tell in terms of energy conservation, they also have a relatively small and increasingly diminishing carbon footprint.

More information on how polyurethanes can be used to insulate buildings.

Access a case study on insulation.