Energy Efficiency and Opportunities for Adhesives and Sealants

Posted on 8/9/2016 10:08:35 AM By Paul Bertram

Much of the work that I have been engaged with in behalf of Kingspan has been focused on Energy Efficiency and Material transparency.

The Paris COP21 (Conference of the Parties) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has generated many opportunities for Energy Efficiency to be considered as a contribution to reducing related Green House Gases.

The United States announced Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025. Various policies and pathways  have been created to deliver the 2020 target of reducing emissions in the range of 17% below the 2005 level by 2020 with an additional 9-11% to reach the 2025 target.

As related to ASC members there are two very important areas where there are opportunities for adhesives and sealants. The first is the “building” sector and second is the “transportation” sector.

New policy standards will increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. You are already seeing opportunities to provide adhesives and sealants to integrate steel, composite materials and aluminum as manufacturers lighten the weight of vehicles.

However, I want to focus on the “building” sector and some of the programs that are opportunities regarding adhesives and sealants.

First, there is the EPA Clean Power Plan that has issued mandates to each State to reduce GHGs at the Utilities within their respective States.

The EPA established emission guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs) with a focus on CO2 reduction. While the emphasis is moving away from coal to natural gas and adding renewables, there is encouragement to utilize energy efficiency strategies.

On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court “stayed” implementation of the Clean Power Plan pending judicial review. Twenty-seven states oppose the rule, and 18 support it. Plans can include “building” energy efficiency to reduce demand side energy and related GHGs. Many States are quietly continuing efforts to develop a plan as it actually has positive implications from a jobs and economy point of view.

There are a multitude of programs already in place that are implementing Energy Efficiency programs.

Twenty-five states currently implement long-term Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS)binding energy savings targets. These programs are run through respective utilities. To date most of these improvements are coming from ESCO contracts and concentrate on LED lighting, building controls and equipment updates. The seemly missed opportunity is the Commercial Building Envelope.

New York State has introduced the REV (Reforming the Energy Vision) that includes improving building envelopes and air leakage of older buildings. Much of this is focused on existing buildings.

Other programs of note include:

The American Business Act on Climate Pledge that has over 140 businesses pledging to reduce GHGs associated with their businesses. In fact, American businesses, as it turns out, are making a huge contribution towards the US goals to reduce GHGs. Many companies including some ASC members also participate in the Better Building and Better Plants program to reduce energy intensity to gain energy productivity.

The adhesive and sealant manufacturers that participate in these programs do well representing the benefits and importance of air sealing.

It is also worth mentioning that as Design Professionals conduct material evaluation for selection or de-selection in projects some are considering “Embodied Energy”. As previously discussed, I saw where a specific limit for Global Warming Potential of a material was in the Part 1. General Requirements. This is part of the “Whole Building LCA” that we are seeing in several “Green” building programs and 189.1.

By the way this is part of the EPD – Environmental Product Declaration that we are all asked to report.

Community and City Energy Efficiency solutions are also gaining support with programs like The C40 Cities Climate Leadership that is network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change starting with benchmarking buildings. Cities Benchmarking buildings and disclosure policy are worth understanding for opportunities to reduce Demand Side energy as best return on investment for new and Deep Energy Retrofit construction.

Fifteen cities now have benchmarking and disclosure laws, which require building owners to report their buildings’ annual energy use to the local government.

Finally, extreme temperatures and greater storm intensity is currently being tied to Risk Assessment and Resilience. This also considers the business case for high performance, energy efficient, well-sealed, low carbon buildings to a broader business case than just meeting minimum codes. In a recent White House event Resilient Building Codes were discussed. These will impact the owner, design, construction, subs and materials supply chain.

The opportunity is to make sure that owners, the design team and contractors and subs understand the importance of specifying the right adhesives and sealant in order to deliver high performance, energy efficient, low carbon buildings.