The Important Role of the Polyurethane Industry in Deep Reductions of Energy and Environmental Impact

Advances in the energy efficiency and environmental impact of constructing and operating buildings play a vital role in achieving the aggressive energy use and emissions reduction goals of this country. The prompt transformation of energy standards and codes for new and retrofit construction that capitalize on the “negative costs” and persuasive life cycle characteristics of existing and proven technologies are essential. This study demonstrates that spray polyurethane and boardstock and metal faced polyisocyanurate insulation products can support this transformation by providing credible evidence of their energy savings, emissions prevention and durability attributes. It does this through the utilization of recognized technical tools, as the study combines life cycle principles contained in ISO 14040 with rigorous building energy simulation modeling. The scope of the research conducted incorporates the energy efficiency and green building standards under development by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE 90.1-2010 and ASHRAE 189.1). In addition, the scope included the development of a comprehensive market analysis for new construction of commercial buildings and the potential application of the polyurethane industry’s products. The multifaceted aspects of this project described above were then utilized to establish a complete impact assessment for the use of polyurethane/polyisocyanurate materials at the levels required to comply with the standards that are currently being scrutinized by proponents and opponents of advanced energy codes. The authors believe that this study, along with our previous efforts in this field as well as the work of others, such as McKinsey and Company and the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), can be effectively leveraged to help drive forward the short term goals (i.e. thirty percent and fifty percent reductions by 2010 and 2015, respectively) of policy makers and their supporters.