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Polyurethane foam insulation couples design freedom with energy efficiency

Architects are visionaries, imagining what our built environment could be: energy-efficient, low-maintenance, safe, sustainable, and above all beautiful. Rigid polyurethane foam insulation is a high-performance, lightweight, durable and easy-to-install material that helps bring that vision to life.

Versatile material that solves multiple dilemmas

Architects are already acutely aware that 40% of global energy consumption comes from buildings, which also emit more than a third of greenhouse gases. Rigid polyurethane (PUR/PU) and polyisocyanurate (PIR) foams are an interesting choice for architects who are striving to reduce both emissions and energy use, while also enabling them to cope with client design whims, stringent fire and safety regulations, and cost and logistical pressures on the building site.

Thinner thermal protection for wider design flexibility

Polyurethane thermal insulation is highly effective because the micro pores in the foam are filled with gas, outperforming traditional insulation such as stone or glass wool or polystyrene by 30-50%, making it much easier to achieve passive house standards.
 
Crucially from a design perspective, this rigid foam insulation allows for a thin, lightweight layer of high thermal protection that reduces wall, ceiling or floor thickness and opens up new design possibilities. Energy efficiency is greatly enhanced without compromising the interior space. 
 
Our polyurethane and polyisocyanurate raw materials such as Baymer®, Desmodur® and Desmophen® can be incorporated in insulation board, sandwich wall elements and even prefabricated building walls. From flat or pitched roofs to flooring, from interior walls to retrofitted exterior facades, rigid foam panels can be easily cut to fit any shape or size.

Rigid foam suits many types of construction

For warehouses, distribution centers or storage facilities, foam sandwich panels are a smart choice for architects seeking to combine high energy efficiency and aesthetics with low maintenance and fire safety compliance. These single component elements are easily assembled, and also reduce the number of deliveries to site. From a full construction cost perspective rather than simply viewing them as a way to insulate, rigid foam solutions are price-performance competitive. 
 
Residential structures in North America are normally stick-built, and architects face a shortage of skilled on-site labor there. Our PUReWall™ prefabricated panelized wall can be assembled on location with minimal waste. Traditional exterior sheathing is replaced with a combination of polyisocyanurate insulation on the exterior and spray polyurethane foam (SPF) in the wall cavity. This fill can be tailored to meet local building codes in any climate. 

Sealing the building envelope with rigid foam retrofitting

In many countries, the energy efficiency challenge lies in retrofitting the existing building stock. In Germany, the energy and air loss from a typical wall from the 1950s can be cut by more than 70% with 10 cm thick layer of rigid polyurethane foam.
 
Our Building of the Future in Bottrop, Germany is a commercial property that was recently refurbished for energy efficiency. In combination with the latest building technology, rigid foam solutions actually helped achieve an 80% reduction in energy consumption.

Lower impact on health, enhanced sustainability

Low-emission rigid foam insulation contributes to a healthier indoor environment, reducing moisture and resisting mold formation. The high level of thermal protection means interiors can be easily heated or cooled for optimal comfort. Over its lifecycle, PUR/PIR insulation saves an estimated 70 times more energy than was used to manufacture it. 

“Architects don’t have it easy, having to balance many conflicting demands. Rigid polyurethane foam insulation offers better thermal performance than conventional glass wool, stone wool or polystyrene. It also reduces wall, ceiling and floor thickness, opening up a range of design possibilities while also meeting increasingly strict fire protection standards.”

Fernando Resende

Marketing Manager, Covestro

Key Benefits

  • Design versatility Thin, durable and space-saving rigid foam opens up new design possibilities.
  • Thermal performance Polyurethane foam insulates 30-50% better than mineral wool or polystyrene.
  • Tough and durable Rigid foam is low-maintenance and chemical-, weather- and UV-resistant.
  • Easy to install PUR/PIR Foam boards can be cut on site, fitting any shape quickly and easily.
  • Enhanced sustainability PUR/PIR insulation saves 70 times more energy than was used to manufacture it.
  • Flame retardant Dense cross-linked PUR/PIR foams perform well in fire tests & meet safety requirements.

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