Saving energy in buildings becomes more important every day. A significant percentage of our nation’s energy is used to heat, cool and operate our homes and buildings. Energy lost through walls, roofs and windows is the largest single waste of energy in most buildings. Energy loss in buildings means extra operating costs, loss of comfort, and reduced productivity. When it comes to energy efficiency in buildings, plastic-based products such as rigid polyurethane foam (PUR), spray polyurethane foam, and polyisocyanurate foam insulation (PIR or polyiso) are at the center of the discussion because they are some of the most efficient thermal insulating products for buildings. They work to reduce heating and cooling loss, improving the efficiency of the building envelope.
Insulation performance is typically measured by R-value, or thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the better the material insulates against heat transfer. PUR and PIR foams have some of the highest R-values per inch of all commercially available insulation products. With typical R-values in the range of R 3.6 to R 7.2 per inch, polyurethane products allow for energy efficient designs featuring thin walls and low profile roofs. This allows the architect or engineer to maximize the usable space in a building while reducing operating costs.
Innovative material design and technology advancements have resulted in high quality polyurethane insulation products that reduce energy loss. In a one-year study by Franklin Associates, plastic building and construction materials saved 467.2 trillion Btu’s of energy over alternative construction materials. The energy saved by using plastic building and construction materials in one year is enough to meet the average annual energy needs of 4.6 millionU.S.households. In fact, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency estimates that homeowners who air seal and insulate their homes can save up to 20 percent of heating and cooling costs. Energy efficiency impacts more than just operating costs. Highly efficient walls and roofs may allow heating and cooling equipment to be downsized by as much as 35 percent. This may translate into more floor space for the same total price.