Greener Future through Spray Foam Insulation 

Written by Simon Baker, President at Huntsman Building Solutions Canada 

The pandemic has impacted the lives of many in different ways.  For a lot of us, more time spent at home with family and precautionary measures like physical distancing as a requirement to keep everyone safe and healthy, has forced us to recalibrate our lives and our impact on the environment around us.  Our actions dictate the overall health of our planet and according to the World Health Organization (WHO) climate change impacts can increase the risk of emerging infectious diseases in the human population.  Plans for post-COVID recovery see people prioritizing health, family, communities, and the planet to rebuild a more sustainable economy.  People are reassessing their homes and the direct role it plays in their health and well-being.  Meanwhile the construction and building players are reassessing the role of large infrastructure and home building projects.

Even with COVID and a looming economic downturn, environmentally friendly building proponents are embracing the big picture and growth of the green building materials market in Canada and worldwide.  The overall market is expected to grow by $187.4 billion to 2027, driven by a revised compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.6 per cent. Furthermore, research is showing that insulation, one of the product segments analyzed and sized, is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 6 per cent and reach a market size of $71.1 billion.1

Propelling the Industry Forward

The major drivers for the growth in Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) are increasing building and construction activities, the interest in retrofitting homes, the need to re-purpose existing buildings, stringent government regulations towards energy efficiency, and a high demand for green building insulation.  Wall insulation will remain the largest application over the period of now till 2024 due to the air tightness, moisture barrier, and energy efficiency properties of spray foam insulation.  Within this market, spray foam for residential construction will remain the largest end use industry and it is also expected to witness the highest growth during the forecast period due to increasing use of green technologies that are incorporated into residential constructions to reduce energy consumption.2

In support of today’s green building standards and certification systems, we are experiencing another spray foam insulation (SPF) phenomenon.  This largely comes from the acceptance and collaboration around the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols. SPF players are committed to innovations that are better for the environment and are aiming for the 2020 target to replace hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with the most advanced in Hydrofluoroolefins (HFO) blowing agent technologies.

Spray foam contractors who are still using HFC blowing agents along with architects, builders, specifiers, interior designers, and general contractors are getting ready for the impact of the SPF change and preparing for the switch to HFOs.  Huntsman Building Solutions has been taking the necessary steps for this day by innovating products with new, lower global warming potential alternatives, and our Building Science teams have been educating stakeholders on the products’ efficiencies and overall health benefits.

While switching systems is never straight forward, the regulations do allow for a period where you can transition to the new system.  Take, for example, Huntsman Building Solutions; it will not be manufacturing or selling any new products with an HFC blowing agent after December 31, 2020, but the transition times to continue to use HFC products in the industry are as follows:

  • Quebec – Customers may continue to use HFC products until July 1, 2021
  • Rest Of Canada – Customers may continue to use HFC products until they are depleted

A Better Product for Builders, Architects, Specifiers, and Consumers

How does new and improved SPF insulation benefit the market?  It is a better designed alternative for environmentally conscious building professionals.  It acts as an ultra-low global warming potential (GWP) insulation with superior spray-ability, adhesion and compressive strength.  This insulation is compliant with the Paris, Kyoto, and Montreal Protocols, an internationally accepted agreement to lower the use of GWP gases.  Our own Heatlok Soya HFO closed-cell product has a GWP 1 rating, which is 99.9 per cent lower than traditional blowing agents and it contains a total of 22 per cent recycled plastic and renewable soya oil content.  Just one of our resin drums contains up to 3000 plastic bottles that are diverted from landfills.  Spray foam insulation with this new blowing agent is greener than ever. 

Today’s SPF insulation has a broad range of advantages over its predecessors, which includes better airtight building envelopes, stronger structural support, moisture control, and higher energy cost savings (more over other forms of insulation).  The product provides outstanding, high performance options for projects in the commercial and residential space.  It has many other great properties, such as being tested and certified as an exceptional air barrier, vapour retardant, water barrier, thermal insulator and flood resistant – perfect for the extreme weather cases we experience in Canadian climate.

The insulation properties of HFO are comparable to its predecessors, in that building owners will still experience effectiveness against mould and mildew, and it limits the number of outdoor irritants like pollen, dust and other allergens from entering the indoor space.  It also blocks drafts and lowers the cost of heating and cooling.

What Qualified SPF Insulation Contractors Need to Know About the Transition

It’s important that SPF insulation contractors talk with their spray foam territory managers right now to understand how the switch from HFC to HFO based insulation products will impact their business and customers.  They need to learn more about HFO product benefits and be able to see and trial the materials as the industry makes its foray into these new systems – they need to understand how HFO products work in terms of yield, sprayability, and adhesion, as well as the benefits to customers so they can in turn educate and sell it.  It’s for this reason Huntsman Building Solutions has launched its “Coast to Coast” HFO road show, to get contractors acquainted with our own Heatlok Soya HFO/Airmétic Soya HFO spray foam insulation.

A couple of other things that contractors should keep in mind as they transition; they should be aware of any project work they are bidding on in 2021 and if they will be using an HFC or HFO product. 

References

  1. https://www.researchandmarkets.com/
  2. https://www.reportlinker.com/p05876007/North-American-Spray-Foam-Insulation-Market-Report-Trends-Forecast-and-Competitive-Analysis.html?utm_source=GNW
Simon Baker

About the Author

Simon Baker is the president of Huntsman Building Solutions Canada and International business. Formerly the global president of Demilec, he is a seasoned international executive with extensive experience in polyurethanes.

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About Huntsman Building Solutions

Huntsman Building Solutions is a global leader in the manufacture and supply of open-cell and closed-cell spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation and coatings. Formed in May 2020 through the combination of the Demilec and Icynene-Lapolla SPF businesses, Huntsman Building Solutions is a business unit of Huntsman Corporation and has a combined heritage of more than 110 years. Through the application of innovative technology and advanced science, Huntsman Building Solutions focuses on meeting market demands for more energy-efficient products and serves a range of industries, including residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and agricultural. For more information, visit www.huntsmanbuildingsolutions.com.