Thermal insulation is the method of reducing heat transfer between adjacent environments and maintaining an ambient temperature indoors. Thermal insulation in buildings helps reduce the carbon footprint as it utilizes less energy to maintain a temperatureand limits the conduction of heat to the external environment. Thermally insulated homes and buildings are less affected by external environmental temperature. Thermal insulation in buildings can be done using various materials such as fiber glass, foamed plastic, and mineral wool among various others such as cotton slag, wool slag, aerogels etc. Foamed plastic insulation materials include expanded polystyrene, extruded polystyrene, polyurethane and other forms of plastic.
Building insulation can be segmented into residential insulation and non-residential insulation. Residential insulation refers to insulation in individual homes (walls, floor, attics and roof); while non-residential insulation includes insulation in offices, factories, institutions, hospitals, shopping malls and other public buildings. Mineral wool was the most preferred insulation method in the past years, but it lost market share to fiber glass and foamed plastic insulation materials. Fiberglass insulation and foamed plastic insulation are the major insulation types that dominate the market. New method of insulation, such as the aerogel technology is expected to witness growth in the future.
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The building insulation market is driven by several factors. Energy conservation and reduction of carbon foot prints are some of the main concerns in several developed countries in North America and Europe. The Kyoto Protocol was adapted in 1997 by several industrialized countries in order to reduce greenhouse gas emission and energy consumption. In the wake of global warming and depleting natural resources, conservation of precious energy is the key to sustenance. The U.S. government promoted home insulation by offering tax rebates on new home insulation or re-insulation, if the insulation standards were met by the individual home owners. Growing public awareness about the need to save energy is another driving factor for home insulation market. Non-residential insulation is another important application of insulation materials. Green buildings with very low energy consumptions are provided with tax benefits by several governments around the world, which promotes the building insulation market.
However, there are some factors that restrain the insulation market as well. Plastic foam insulation materials are susceptible to the volatility in crude oil prices in the international market as polystyrene is a downstream derivative of crude oil. This reduces the competitiveness of plastic foams with respect to fiber glass insulation materials. Another raw material which has limited supply is boron, which is required in the manufacturing of fiber glass insulation materials. Most of the boron required is mined from two primary deposits in the U.S. and Turkey. Polyurethane spray foam (SPF) is an effective insulation and air sealant material, but there exists health concerns such as breathing problems, and asthma upon exposure to MDI and other SPF chemicals which are the key ingredients in it.
North America is the largest consumer of insulation materials, and the revived growth in construction industry in the region is expected to drive growth of insulation materials in the region. The insulation market in Europe is mostly dependent upon re-insulation of old buildings. Asia pacific is the fasted growing region for building insulation market, primarily driven by non-residential insulation. The manufacturing economies of China and India, have created a market for insulation materials, while the market in Japan is matured.
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Some of the key companies in the building insulation market are Owen Cornings, Johns Manville, Certain Teed, Knauf Gips KG, Dow Building solutions, Atlas Roofing Corporation and Huntsman Corporation among many others.
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