HBS Update With Simon Baker
14 Oct 2022
In the wake of the damage brought by Hurricane Ian, Huntsman Building Solutions President Simon Baker addresses climate change, resiliency and the growing need to build homes and structures able to withstand intensifying weather and storm events.
Anytime you look at the news these days, you’ll see it – the ever-present impacts of climate change. Rising temperatures across the globe, long and stubborn droughts, record-breaking fires, and any number of other natural disasters are always present. We just witnessed the incredible force and destruction of Hurricane Ian, which damaged countless homes and structures across Florida and South Carolina. It’s because of storms like this that resiliency is now top-of-mind for most, and that building and preparing homes and structures so they can withstand extreme weather is a priority.
In the past, certain regions were often singled out as top zones for weather considerations. For example, those living and working in the southeast knew they might eventually find themselves in a hurricane’s path. Likewise, those living on coastlines understood the potential risk of extreme wind or storm surges. Today, however, we are seeing weather patterns both change and intensify. For example, hot climate zones within the Northern Hemisphere are shifting further north and fires are breaking records in California. Both of these examples prove the climate and weather is not as predictable as it once was. Now it is simply sensible for all of us, no matter where we are located, to improve the readiness of our homes and facilities to better face extreme weather.
Legislators are addressing the issue. The White House in June announced the new building codes initiative, a $225 million program to invest in building code improvements and to drive standards to which homes are constructed. The funds also target enhanced resiliency standards for U.S. federal buildings. Another legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act has officially passed. Within the $385 billion program is $235 billion dedicated to housing and building energy efficiency. A lot of the effort behind this legislation is driven by concerns over climate change and resiliency, but also the goal to ensure that available energy is conserved and used wisely.
Beyond these federal legislations, we are also seeing increasing focus from local and state governments. With many building codes driven at a local county level, it is important that resiliency is also addressed there.
The good news for our customers, spray foam roofing and insulation contractors is that the product and services they provide enhance the weather resistance of homes and buildings. The thermal efficiency of spray foam keeps a building cooler in summer and warmer in winter. It conserves energy and provides meaningful energy bill savings. Additionally, closed-cell spray foam can withstand some of the worst impacts of severe weather, with the ability to be cleaned and dried after a flood event. Spray foam roofing can also achieve Miami-Dade wind uplift certification, one of the most stringent wind tests around.
All of these benefits present contractors with an incredible opportunity. Spray foam contractors, and the materials they install, are essentially a resiliency solution. If they market themselves well, contractors have the potential to garner more customers and increase their sales. That said, we as an industry must continue to communicate the vast benefits of spray foam to homeowners, facility managers, builders, architects and the public at large.
Education is a priority for Huntsman Building Solutions. Not only does our contractor education program, HBS University, offer numerous courses to improve the skills of our industry’s installers, but our team also puts substantial effort into educating homeowners, industry stakeholders and influencers about the capabilities of spray foam. We find that, while many know it to be an insulation and roofing option, some are still unaware of the material’s resiliency performance. We know we have more work to do in building awareness and are committed to using education as a key means for addressing climate change and resiliency.
Another way we are addressing resiliency is directly through our portfolio of products. All of our solutions aim to create a tighter, more efficient building envelope that conserves, or reduces, energy usage. Additionally, we source plastic PET water bottle waste, diverting it from landfills, and use it as a key component in the manufacture of our high-performance closed-cell spray foam. And we are committed to finding additional ways to give renewable and recycled materials another life, reused again as part of our products.
Our goal ultimately is to create value in society, as well as comfort and savings for the end users of our efficient and resilient spray foam systems, while simultaneously doing our part to protect the earth which sustains us all.