By Liz White, editor
San Antonio, Texas -- Energy efficiency and sustainability were high on the agenda at the opening session of the Polyurethanes 2008 Technical Conference, sponsored by the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry.
CPI director Neeva-Gayle Candelori opened the meeting by referring to the devastation of the recent hurricanes on the Gulf coast of Texas, and the difficult conditions most of the local polyurethane raw materials suppliers with plants there are still suffering.
She went on to discuss various activities which show that "together we can do what separately we cannot, including CPI's active role with PIMA, the US Polyisocyanurate Manufacturers' Association, in supporting ASHRAE's (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) efforts to increase insulation requirements for buildings. These have resulted in an increase in R (insulation) values for roof and sidewall applications "in every climate zone in the US," said Candelori.
The good news is that, "We have the ability to make buildings warmer, better," and the industry needs to communicate this well, so that stakeholders see that the polyurethanes industry is part of the solution in sustainability, said CPI Steering Committee Chair, Jerry MacCleary of Bayer MaterialScience llc.
"Sustainability isn't a challenge like any other in the last 70 years," and goes along with the challenge of more expensive energy, MacCleary said. Whatever the actual date at which fossil fuels run out, or oil production peaks and starts to drop, he said "we need to minimise consumption" and help customers and their customers do the same, as well as using renewable resources, the Bayer executive added.
"Polyurethane insulation has a payback period of only months," when installed in a typical building, said MacCleary pointing out that "you can save 70 times the energy used to manufacture the material in its lifetime."
"For all of us in the 21st Century we're perfectly positioned to lead the charge in this new era of renewable resources and sustainable growth," said MacCleary. "We have the science, technology, and intellectual capital, to make products from automobiles to appliances, lighter, cheaper, safer, stronger and more energy-efficient."
The CPI meeting continues in San Antonio till lunchtime Wednesday 1 October, and organisers expect some 1200 delegates to attend.