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Global Insulation Market: Increasing Popularity of Green Buildings Leads Shift towards Eco-Friendly Insulation Materials.

Global insulation market was valued at US$ 37.87 Bn in 2013 and is anticipated to reach US$ 64.91 Bn in 2020, expanding at a CAGR of 8.0% from 2014 to 2020.
Published 06 November 2015
Insulation and energy consumption are closely related. Insulation accounts for around 50% of a home’s energy consumption. Proper insulation substantially reduces energy consumption, thereby increasing the energy efficiency of a house. Environmental concerns have highlighted the importance of reducing the carbon footprint of a house. This has led to the increasing popularity of green buildings.

The global insulation market is expected to benefit massively by the rising demand for green buildings that use insulating materials such as mineral wool, plastic foam, fiberglass, and others to offer better insulation. It is estimated that the global insulation market will grow at a CAGR of 8.0% during the period between 2014 and 2018 to reach a valuation of US$64.91 billion by 2020.

Is Plastic Foam an Ideal Insulation Material for Green Buildings?

R-value refers to the extent of thermal insulation provided by a building material. A higher R-value means that the material provides better insulation. Though plastic foam has a high R-value and works as an excellent insulation material, the raw materials used for manufacturing plastic foam have raised questions about its usage in the construction of green buildings. Plastic foam or expanded polystyrene foam (EPF) contains styrene, which is derived from natural gas or petroleum and is formed by a reaction between ethylene and benzene. Benzene, in turn, is produced from coal or petroleum. Increasing carbon footprint of the manufacturing process of plastic foam has decreased its popularity as an insulation material for green buildings.

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Sustainable Foam Materials: Eco-Friendly Alternative to Plastic Foam

Lately, wood-based foam materials have received attention from the proponents of green buildings. Thin sheets of foam plastic insulation materials have a tendency to collapse under their own weight due to accumulation of moisture over a period of time. Wood-based insulation materials such as wood-fiber wool and wood-fiber sheets are less resistant to deformation compared to plastic foam insulation materials. Some of the sustainable foam materials used for insulation are:

•    Wood Foam: Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research in Germany have developed wood foam, which is made up of tiny wood particles. As wood foam is made up of sustainable raw materials through an eco-friendly manufacturing process, it has emerged as a suitable green alternative to plastic foam.

•    Cotton Denim or Recycled Denim Insulation: This natural fiber insulation material is typically made up of industrial scraps gathered from the manufacturers of denim clothing. It contains 85% recycled content and offers excellent insulation.

•    Cellulose Insulation: Cellulose insulation materials are made up of recycled paper such as used newspapers. Cellulose insulation is considered as a loose-fill type of insulation and is well-suited for places where installation of other types of insulation materials is difficult. Though cellulose insulation has a lower R-value compered to plastic foam, the sustainable products used in cellulose insulation make it a good choice for green buildings. 


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The demand for sustainable foam materials has increased as they contain no volatile organic compounds or toxic chemicals that pollute indoor air. However, the lower R-value and high cost of these insulation materials leave a lot of scope for further development.
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