One of the key elements of the building envelope is insulation because it can help dictate comfort for the family. Use of insulation helps create the peace of mind that comes with knowing we have made an investment that not only serves our family, but is energy and cost-efficient. A variety of plastic products may be the solution for the home, including housewraps and foams: spray polyurethane foam (SPF) and rigid foams made with polyurethane (Polyiso), extruded polystyrene (XPS) and expanded polystyrene (EPS). Learn more about how EPS reduces global warming.

Many people do not know rigid and blown foamed insulation is made of plastics or that the use of plastics in building and construction often uses less energy and creates less greenhouse gas per application than traditional materials. For a free fully documented, peer-reviewed and published “cradle-to-gate” life cycle inventory (LCI) of nine major plastic resins and two polyurethane precursors, click here. For additional LCI information on a particular product to compare environmental impacts, contact the specific product manufacturer.

Watch Video on Plastics, Insulation, and Home Energy Efficiency
Jack Armstrong, of BASF’s Global Building Materials, shows how energy efficiency can be enhanced by smart uses of the many varieties of plastic insulations, sealants, stabilization foams, window glazing, frame cladding and much more. Originally given at a press Conference on the Mall in Washington, DC for the Solar Decathlon, the subject matter goes to the heart of Near Zero Energy Homes.

Saving Energy Through High Performance Buildings
Eco-label rating systems based on checklists like Green Globes and LEED can detract from measures that will result in significant building energy savings performance. As a result, some eco-labeled buildings miss the mark in terms of improved and sustained energy efficiency performance.

Impacts of New ASHRAE Standards on Energy Usage and the Environment
A delay in implementing the ASHRAE 90.1-2010P requirements until 2015 would result in losing 1,900 trillion Btu in energy savings (equivalent of 328 million barrels of crude oil) and releasing of 134 million metric tons of CO2-eq. (equivalent to annual CO2 emissions from 29 coal-fired power plants).

Rigorous quantitative Whole Building Energy Analysis and Life Cycle Assessment methodology in this study shows how prompt adoption and enforcement of these enhanced standards will significantly reduce U.S. energy consumption and avoid substantive greenhouse gas emissions. Polyurethane insulation technology—if put in place—can help make these standards and requirements attainable.

How to Build Small Affordable Houses That Use 30% Less Total Energy in the Mixed-Humid Climate, Jeff Christian, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
This report describes how to build a high performance affordable house that will achieve 30% whole house energy savings using proven, commercially available technologies in the mixed-humid climate region.

290 Million Tons Of CO2 Saved Through Plastic Insulation
Plastics insulation uses a tiny amount of energy in its production compared to the savings made over its life cycle. Over its complete life time, 290 million tonnes of CO2 were saved through the plastic insulation installed in the EU in 2004—with only 1% of CO2 created during production. The production energy required to make one insulation panel is recovered after four months of use in a house.

Plastic Insulation: A Sustainable Solution
The building and construction industry has a major role to play in reducing energy use and hence the emission of carbon dioxide resulting from fossil fuel generation of energy. Over its lifetime, plastic insulation saves more than 200 times the energy used in its manufacture, and its very high thermal efficiency also adds to savings.

Energy and Climate Solutions Through American Chemistry
Building insulation materials save as much as 40 BTUs of energy for every BTU of energy consumed to make the material. House wraps save 360 BTUs of energy for every BTU used to make the material, and foam insulation can make a home up to 70% more energy efficient.