A decade ago, sustainable and energy-efficient construction were not central topics of conversation at construction industry trade shows; the price of oil had not hit an all-time high; most states did not have statewide energy codes; and the government had not yet mandated that federal buildings receive certifications through the U.S Green Building Council's (USGBC's) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.®
As we enter 2005, energy-efficient and sustainable construction are influencing the current construction industry. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) has signed an executive order requiring LEED certification for state-owned buildings in California, and governors in Maine, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington have done so, as well. By the end of this decade, several LEED-certified high-rise buildings will grace the Manhattan skyline, including the new headquarters for The New York Times. The U.S. General Services Administration now requires all its buildings to receive certification through USGBC's LEED rating system. (For more information about LEED, see "Green buildings standard," September 2003 issue, page 30.)
Products such as polyisocyanurate insulation are meeting the increased demand for and interest in efficient, sustainable building products. However, this increased demand, especially in a growing global economy, sometimes is a mixed blessing for an industry that has prided itself on its ability to provide virtually next-day delivery to the roofing and related construction industries.
As the building industry continues to strive for more energy-efficient buildings, the demand from contractors, designers and building owners for polyisocyanurate insulation is driving a strong market. In fall 2004, polyisocyanurate insulation manufacturers completed their fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth compared with corresponding quarters in late 2002 through 2003. The Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) expects polyisocyanurate production numbers for 2004 to exceed historic levels and break the 5 billion board feet barrier.