Johannesburg: Africa Thermal Insulations (ATI), specialists in developing thermal insulation products that cater perfectly for roofing insulation specifications required by architects, developers and builders, are confident that their products are the leading answer in this new age of heightened awareness around energy efficient buildings.
A range of discussions in the media recently have highlighted that “green building” is not only a necessity for individual households, but also for businesses and institutions wanting to reduce costs and become more responsible with their use of valuable energy resources.
The fact that the South African government has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 34% by 2020, and that legislation around energy usage and building projects is often raised at government and industry level when discussing sustainable business growth, this is an indication that there is a growing need for alternative and innovative products in the South African building industry.
In the minds of most people, lowering carbon emissions is reduced to “switching lights and geysers off, driving more efficiently and becoming more aware of how to recycle and reuse products”.
But there is more to this worldwide energy problem, with many decision makers in business and government starting to realise that properly managed and legislated built environments can make a massive contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions. A well-known fact, but seldom acted upon in the past and the present, is that insulation is the most effective way to improve the energy efficiency of a building. The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) highlights that worldwide, buildings are responsible for a third of all carbon emissions. It is therefore obvious that products and practices that can address carbon emissions in the built environment need to become part of our day-to-day conversations. For example, ATI’s signature product – Alububble® – is a radiant heat barrier insulation solution that works differently to conventional bulk insulation like foam boards or fibrous blankets, and guarantees the reduction of heating and air-conditioner costs that are usually incurred while trying to create comfortable climates for building occupants.
Principles of Radiant Heat Barrier and Reflective Foil Insulation
The science of reflective foils was perfected by the NASA Space programme. Foil coverings of space capsules and suits were used for the purposes of creating a radiant barrier that could reflect intense solar heat and harmful UV radiation away from equipment and astronauts while being exposed to the sun, but at the same time reflect internal heat for warmth while out of the sun’s rays. Insulation products that use these reflective properties and principles, such as those manufactured by ATI, are an excellent insulation solution for buildings in climates such as South Africa. With an extremely high reflective value of up to 97% being provided by the foil, coupled with a layer of adjoining airspaces, a permanent and continuous barrier to heat radiation can be provided as heat transfer by radiation is reduced significantly.
Using Technology and Design to Ensure the Cost Effective Insulation of Buildings
The manufacturing process to create thermal insulation products that ensure cost effective insulation of buildings is not a simple one. ATI starts by staying abreast of research and development from around the world that may influence their product design and materials composition, and brings this knowledge into a state of the art laboratory and testing facility. The business objective here is to ensure that their product design and development process keeps them amongst the global leaders in their field. Evidence of ATI’s commitment to leading developments in thermal insulation was backed up by investors from Australia who recently displayed much interest in ATI’s Alububble® product. They confirmed that the product was a more than adequate match for the rigid standards required for insulation set by Standards Australia.
Keith Pryce-Williams, a founding member of ATI and CEO, Stated after a recent visit from potential investors that “if South Africa wants to be competitive and relevant in building projects around the world, we need to have products that not only meet stringent quality standards, but will also fulfil future legislative demands for energy efficient buildings. ATI products are designed and developed with this purpose in mind and we are proud to be developers and suppliers of such an effective product that is going to become increasingly important in the future”.
When it comes to the built environment, architects, developers and building managers do not necessarily need to be involved in how products are developed, but they do need to engage when it comes to providing cost-effective and energy efficient buildings that meet current legislation and building specifications. At the same time, builders themselves are seldom exposed to products and technology outside of their normal frame of reference and one look at the multitude of housing and building projects that are going up without solar geysers and insulation, and there is an obvious need for interventions to make green building more relevant.
Can Green Buildings be Cost Effective?
The development of “green buildings” is no longer a simple label that can be tagged onto a project to make it sound environmentally friendly. A range of new technologies (such as thermal insulation) can be applied to old and new buildings and they have the capability of reducing energy demands which obviously contributes to increased profit margins for building managers and business owners, with the added benefit of decreasing the environmental impact of the built environment. Although many developers may be less committed to green development practices in the current economic climate, going as far to either use inferior insulation products or none at all, sustainable and green buildings will become an industry and world standard in the long term.
Warren McNey, Managing Director of ATI comments that “despite the fact that for more than a decade businesses have known that increased costs for cooling and heating are going to become a factor for the bottom line, the reality is that we still face the challenge of ensuring that appropriate insulation products make it to site. ATI’s products are an excellent example of what can, and should be implemented at building projects. In fact, we are on top of pending legislation that will require state-of the-art insulation products in all buildings, old and new, to become the norm not the exception”.
Alububble®, which has been endorsed by the Thermal Insulation Association of Southern Africa, has become an important part of the South African building landscape and offers products that generate significant opportunities for businesses committed to green buildings. Ultimately, green buildings will have an economic advantage in the future with opportunities to lower energy consumption, secure better occupancy rates and therefore have an increased market value. These are factors that obviously make sense to those involved in the built environment in our current economic climate.
Setting a New Bench-Mark in Insulation Products
ATI products, which combine the latest SABS and ISO standards as well as an intimate knowledge of what is required by builders and developers “on the ground”, has set a new bench-mark in insulation products available for cost-effective, green buildings. By developing and supplying insulation products that require innovative and state-of-the-art design and production techniques, ATI can give businesses the peace-of-mind that when it comes to insulation, they have inherited a building that is as cost effective and as green as possible.