Polyiso Insulation Update

May 31, 2005
The demand is strong for polyiso insulation – find out why

Strong performance of the U.S. residential and commercial construction markets is driving demand for construction materials, affecting raw-material costs and - in some cases - availability.

These factors, and the ever-increasing cost of energy, are driving strong demand for energy-efficient products such as polyisocyanurate insulation. In fact, in 2004, polyisocyanurate insulation manufacturers completed a record-breaking year.

Nearing the end of 2004, the rising costs and limited availability of core raw materials and chemicals impacted the short-term availability of polyisocyanurate. The chemicals most affected by rising oil prices and decreasing availability are diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI), polyol, and pentane. MDI is a critical component of polyisocyanurate production. The price of MDI rose significantly in 2004, and the current inventory of available MDI is at an all-time low.

It is expected that MDI manufacturing capacity will increase in 2006. In the meantime, chemical suppliers are doing their best to facilitate their manufacturing processes to maximize production and support the polyisocyanurate industry.

The polyiso industry believes that it will produce 5 billion board feet again in 2005. The industry suggests that building owners, architects, and specifiers consider the following tips when specifying and buying polyiso insulation:

  • Check with your polyisocyanurate supplier frequently to ensure you are aware of the latest market developments.
  • Order product as early in the contract and building process as possible to ensure timely delivery once your construction project is under way.
  • Check the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) website (www.pima.org) for updates.

Your efforts to use this high-performance thermal product will contribute to the long-term, sustainable performance of your projects.

Energy Efficiency and the Environment
As market demand shows, polyiso is the roof insulation of choice for commercial roofing projects. Polyiso has many positive features - one being its energy-efficient capabilities, highlighted in a recent study completed by the Energy Services Provider Group and EBL Engineers, two energy auditing and building systems analysis firms based in Baltimore. This energy modeling study shows that there are numerous benefits when increasing the thickness of polyiso by 1 inch or more beyond American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers standard ASHRAE 90.1-2001. These include:

  • Significant rate of return to users for the financial investment of installing additional polyisocyanurate insulation.
  • Reduction of average heating and cooling costs to facilities per year.
  • Reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by thousands of pounds, sulfur dioxide emissions by thousands of grams, and nitrogen oxide emissions by thousands of grams per year.

Finally, it is important to note that all polyisocyanurate insulation is manufactured using a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-compliant, hydrocarbon-based blowing agent that has zero ozone depletion potential and virtually no global warming potential.

Jared O. Blum is president of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (www.pima.org), Alexandria,VA.

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