Neil Hargreaves BMBI Expert for Mineral Wool Insulation: Quarter 1 2023

By Knauf Insulation UK & Ireland
May 23, 2023

The quarterly nature of these updates demands a focus on the immediate, but this time I’m keen to discuss a bigger issue.

One whose sheer scale doesn’t necessarily create tangible quarter-by-quarter change, but that will have a much more significant, and permanent, impact on merchants over time.

This macro factor is – of course – the climate crisis.

Forget the noise of short-term economic ups and downs – climate change is the elephant in the room. And it’s an elephant that’s bearing down on us. Even if you ignore the weather records being broken worldwide with alarming regularity, and consider solely its impact on construction. Our entire industry will be overhauled in the urgent race to reach net zero by 2050 – starting now.

As managing director of an insulation manufacturer, when I’m asked about net zero, it’s mostly in reference to the vital role our products will play in reducing operational energy demand. That’s where efforts to create more sustainable buildings have focused to date. But as these bear fruit and buildings become more efficient, embodied carbon becomes a greater proportion of their total carbon cost – around half, in fact. So embodied carbon will soon be in the spotlight, and merchants need to be ready with products for customers seeking low-carbon construction.

Glass mineral wool is well-positioned to capitalise on this increasingly carbon-conscious industry, as it has the lowest embodied carbon of any mainstream insulation material for a given thermal performance. Merchants can validate their recommendations by comparing Environmental Performance Declarations (EPDs) for individual products from specific manufacturers.

Because they’re made in the UK, from recycled and renewable materials, our own products score particularly well on this front. But the scale of the challenge means all manufacturers must do more. Look out for news of further developments and investments in the sustainability of our products, as we gear up to make mineral wool the insulation material of choice for low-carbon construction.