Demand for thermal insulation products and systems across the non-domestic buildings market is largely driven by newbuild activity, with upgrading of insulation on refurbishment works generally much less of a driver, particularly in the commercial sector. Accordingly, it is estimated that there has been a marked decline in installations since the onset of the recession. To some extent, relative buoyant conditions in the education and healthcare sectors sustained demand into 2011, with the budget cuts yet to have an impact. However, in 2012 and into 2013, it is anticipated that cuts to public sector construction budgets will have a much greater impact, exacerbated by the failure of the government’s expected recovery in the private sector.
In 2013, revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations will be introduced. At the time of this report’s publication the final details had not been confirmed. However, the assumption is that more exacting U-value targets will compel landlords and /or tenants to take additional measures to improve thermal performance of their buildings. This could include upgrading of insulation on re-roofing and re-cladding projects, although other low-cost options will be available.
The Green Deal for businesses is to be introduced after the Green Deal for households, having been put back from October 2011 to late January 2013. Because of the complex issues concerning non-domestic buildings – e.g. multi-occupancy, responsibilities for energy performance etc – it is difficult at the current time to envisage how this will impact on demand for insulation.
During 2014, it is possible that the decline will bottom out, should many waste management infrastructure and energy-from-waste developments – in particular ‘mass burn’ incinerators – come to fruition. The continuing shortage of Grade A office space in Central London and other key regional markets should also provide some growth stimulus.
The market for non-domestic thermal insulation differs markedly from the household sector in several ways; most of it is installed at the shell and core stage of construction, with retrofit demand typically limited to residential-type buildings. The use of composite or insulated panels – with insulation material incorporated during manufacture – is extensive across the non-domestic market, especially in the warehousing, business park offices and out-of-town retail sectors. Other types of pre-fabrication include modular buildings and unitised curtain wall, whereby insulation is also fitted in the factory.
While mineral wool products dominate the domestic retrofit market (lofts and cavity walls), PIR/PUR is estimated to account for over 50% of the non-domestic market for thermal insulation by area installed, the key applications being foam cores in composite panels and rigid boards used on flat roofs.
Between them, it is estimated that flat roofs and insulated metal panels systems (both composite and site built) account for around 60% of the total area of insulation installed.
Key applications for glass wool in the non-domestic sector are built-up metal twin-skin panels and standing seam roofs. Stone wool can also be used but is mostly specified for high-temperature/fire retardant applications such as certain types of flat roofs.