Building insulation and its role in global climate goals
Insulation helps maximise energy usage and the use of natural resources, keeping a building warm in winter and cool in summer. Insulation is the key to sustainable construction that contributes to a carbon-neutral world.
Climate change and the need for an immediate response are no longer matters for snobs or political facades. Extreme weather events, desertification processes, the energy crisis, and the depletion of natural resources are today's undeniable realities that affect us all. We cannot look through the main media outlets' front pages without spotting global warming-related news articles. Likewise, we cannot analyse public policies and corporate strategies without noticing a clear bet to reduce governments' and companies’ environmental footprint.
It is not for nothing that EU economic policy, including the most significant aid package in history, puts much of its focus on sustainable development and climate neutrality by 2050 "aimed to make sure the transition to a decarbonised economy leaves no one behind".
Reducing the impact of our activity on the environment and moderating our vast energy consumption is one of the few areas of agreement among the world's political leaders who have ratified the Paris Agreement.
The building sector is one of the main actors in this new era in which we will all be active players.
As representatives of the insulation industry, we have a firm commitment to sustainability goals to do our bit for a better world. So here we leave you with our dedication and objectives to achieve it.
The importance of insulation
Insulation is vital to improving the environmental performance of the construction sector. 75% of the EU's housing stock is energy inefficient, and retrofitting is essential to meet climate targets. What does this mean? It means reducing the carbon intensity of building materials. It means using more recycled and reused materials for more efficient use. It means buildings that meet their energy needs from renewable sources. Finally, it means greater control over the internal environment through greener designs or the refurbishment and renovation of existing building stock (both residential and commercial).
And yet, while lightweight construction materials and solar panels are necessary, they rely on a properly insulated building. There’s little point in solar power if most of it is wasted, passing straight through the walls and roof of your structure, causing you to overuse energy just to maintain a desirable temperature. On the other hand, insulation helps maximise energy usage and the use of natural resources, keeping a building warm in winter and cool in summer. Insulation is the key to sustainable construction that contributes to a carbon-neutral world.
The impact of properly-installed insulation
Insulation improves energy efficiency in every kind of building. The clear benefits include the following:
- Lower energy use: energy savings in a well-insulated home or office building are far more significant than the cost of manufacturing, purchasing and installing the insulation.
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: because an insulated building has greater control over its internal environment, the energy needed to maintain temperature and comfort is much less. Therefore, the emissions and pollutants associated with energy generation (including carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide, and nitrogen oxide) are also less.
- Better use of natural resources: by using recycled and reused materials in the production and manufacture of insulation, the depletion of resources is reduced. (At URSA, our mineral glass wool insulation contains over 70% recycled material).
As we can see, prioritising insulation supports progress towards global energy efficiency and climate neutrality goals.
Risks to achieving climate neutrality
However, the path to an energy-efficient future needs to be clarified. Between climate-change denial, the harsh realities of trying to re-engineer whole economies, and a reluctance to abandon fossil fuels, achieving those EU 2030 goals takes a lot of work.
Likewise, despite numerous government-backed insulation schemes, the insulation industry needs help resolving its difficulties. Ironically, given that the goal is energy efficiency, a dependable energy supply has become a significant risk factor.
Because of the current situation in Ukraine, gas supplies are disrupted, impacting European countries especially hard due to their historical dependence on Russian gas.
The EU’s answer is the REPowerEU plan to make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels well before 2030. The triple focus is on the following:
- Saving energy
- Generating clean energy
- Diversifying energy supplies
Saving energy is something every citizen, business and organisation can contribute to. A key measure would be the installation of insulation in every renovation or construction project.
However, in the short term, reducing our current gas demands can put industries at risk in the short time, including insulation manufacturing.
For example, producing mineral wool insulation requires furnaces operating at 1300-1500 celsius to melt raw materials such as basalt, diabase, dolomite and sand. Such a furnace cannot lose temperature, so any possible interruption of the power supply would damage the quality of the insulating material. Apart from difficulties for manufacturers, this would also mean disruption to construction and renovation activity, crucial to meeting the EU’s 2030 climate goals.
From a climate perspective, global priorities are clear: energy efficiency and emissions reduction. Any interruption to the insulation industry threatens the current drive to improve building stock and, indirectly, improve decarbonisation and emissions levels.
- Accelerate Renovation
- Building Renovation
- Circular Economy
- Climate change
- CO2 Reduction
- Deep renovation
- Energy efficiency
- ETEX Group
- Green Deal
- Healthy Buildings
- Healthy homes
- Indoor air quality
- Mineral wool
- renewable energy
- Renovation Wave
- Safe homes
- Safe life
- Safe work
- Thermal insulation
- UN Sustainable Development Goals
- United Nations Global Compact
- We are URSA
- We are Xella
- Xella Group
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Time to Act: recognising Spain’s key role in enabling renovation in Europe.
On 3 October, Renovate Europe Day, named ‘Time to Act: Spain as a driving force on building renovation’ will take place in Madrid. It’s the first time the event is being held in a national capital other than Brussels. The decision reflects the organisers’ desire to capitalise on synergy opportunities with the Spanish presidency of the EU at a crucial time for the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), now in its final trilogue. It’s also a response to the growing importance of Member States in making groundbreaking EU legislation a reality.
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Interview with Silvia Herranz, Sustainability and Technical Manager at URSA Insulation
Silvia Herranz, Sustainability and Technical Manager at URSA, highlights the numerous benefits of insulation, encompassing enhanced energy efficiency and diminished environmental emissions.
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UPM Biochemicals and URSA create sustainable insulation for construction industry
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Etex's sustainable lightweight solutions drive very strong 2022 financial performance.
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URSA obtains certification for its energy management system following the ISO 50001:2018 Standard
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URSA is committed to renewable energies with the installation of photovoltaic plants at its factories in Tarragona.
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Etex goes beyond sustainable lightweight construction and commits to 2030 circularity and decarbonisation targets
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Etex continues its portfolio shift towards lightweight and sustainable building solutions by completing the acquisition of insulation expert URSA
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URSA obtains the GOLD certificate for indoor air quality
URSA certify the white blow-in wool range with the most prestigious private label in terms of VOC emissions: the Eurofins Indoor Air comfort GOLD.
Boosting the circular economy with the reuse of pallets
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Bankiz, the new verified FDES configurator of URSA insulation solutions
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Building insulation – a priority for the EU’s renovation plans
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Etex confirms its portfolio shift by acquiring thermal and acoustic insulation expert URSA
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What does “deep renovation” of a building mean?
How to upgrade the buildings we have now so that they are fit for the future? Deep renovation is the best option for meeting the EU’s 2050 zero-emission target and mineral wool insulation is essential for this type of renovation if we want to achieve EU’s environmental objectives.
“Where I live, it’s never too cold so I don’t need to insulate my home.” – REALLY??
There are many false beliefs about insulation in summer and warmer countries. Insulation is key to maintain the temperature of your home throughout the year. A properly insulated home is one of the best contributions to reducing the carbon footprint and combating the effects of climate change.
As green as glass mineral wool
Some manufactured solutions which are very good for the environment remain relatively unknown, for example, glass mineral wool insulation materials.
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Our goal: driving innovative strength
Innovation management, basic research, and technological development: This is the foundation on which we position the Xella Group for the future and meeting societal as well as industry -specific challenges – be it climate protection, energy savings, or resource efficiency. Since 2014, we have therefore been operating our own technology and research company (Technologie - und Forschungsgesellschaft / T&F) near Berlin.
A new edition of our Sustainability Report is coming soon
ESG is not a new topic or trend for us. For decades, URSA and Xella, all together, stood for sustainable and innovative construction and insulation materials that make a significant contribution to the energy efficiency of buildings.
Our goal: Responsible leadership
As a company, we take our economic and social role very seriously and want to be a fair, reliable and trustworthy partner to our customers, business partners and employees. In order to always comply with ethical and legal standards in our business activities and in our dealings with our supply chain, we place high demands on our governance.
Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home. More than ever this sentence has become more relevant to “the whole world” in the covid19 era. We are finding the need to live in safe, efficient and comfortable homes as they have become our only place to be when times are tough. Why don´t we rethink our economic model and base it on #sustainability and research, whilst at the same time protecting the #climate?
Protect the climate and stimulate the economy with efficient support programs
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The new 55% target for energy efficiency: is it feasible?
Can we reach the new goal of 55% of energy reduction? Of course, we can but we need to set a clear path for local governments to transform goals into executive actions. At Eurima (European Insulation Manufacturers Association) we believe in three main areas key to help all actors to achieve this goal.
Our goal: Safe work
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#GreenRecovery: Adaptation of Subsidy Programs is Key Now
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Our goal: A strong team
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Women in construction
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Our goal: Improving circular economy capabilities
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Being energy certified means up to 10% more value for your property
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Our goal: Reduce CO2 emission intensity by 30% by 2030
URSA will contribute its own efforts to help Xella, the parent group, achieve its ambitious environmental goals aligned with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
URSA joins Xella Group in supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals
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Our grain of sand to a Net Zero society
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The first step towards insulation: mineral wool
Good insulation provides comfort, safety and sustainability for the home. Glass mineral wool solutions offer thermal and acoustic comfort, directly contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions in the European Union.
Dialog with our stakeholders and our essential sustainability topics
Our mission is to enable energy-efficient and long-lasting housing – and to provide as sustainably as possible. To achieve this goal and keep improving, we are in constant exchange with our stakeholders.
Solidarity goes beyond borders
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Sustainability at Xella: Best in Class in our industry
The reputable ESG rating agency Sustainalytics has given Xella a rating of 18.3, putting Xella in first place out of all 115 companies in the building materials sector assessed by Sustainalytics. Sustainalytics therefore classifies the risk of financial impact caused by ESG aspects at Xella as low.
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Energy efficient and affordable housing – delivered sustainably
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Does the circular economy help minimize the environmental effects of the construction industry?
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