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HBS Update With Simon Baker

9 Feb 2023

It’s a new year and one that has brought some economic uncertainty with it. Yet still, there is cause for all of us in the dynamic spray foam industry to remain positive.

HBS Update with Simon Baker

Clearly, the economy is displaying some signs of distress, particularly with ongoing inflation and the recent interest rate increases within the U.S., but we have to remember the big picture as well. There is real demand for our product and services and it's likely only going to get stronger.

The cost of natural gas and electricity is rising, there is concern about the environment and there is action occurring at the state level to drive building codes. All of these factors increase the need for a superb insulation solution that conserves energy, lowers energy bills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Our industry is that solution.

Homebuilders now understand the material’s core thermal and air sealing benefits and have helped spray foam become well-established in the new build market. There is also much opportunity within the retrofit arena. There is a lot of existing, older housing stock - much of it built during the 1960s, 70s and 80s - whose insulation does not perform to current standards. This is a huge opportunity for spray foam contractors who can assist these many homeowners with retrofits that save energy, reduce energy costs and provide a much more comfortable family living space. So, while we are currently seeing a slowdown in new home construction, it is offset by retrofit opportunities.

Another key opportunity for contractors this year is the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a federal legislation that encourages energy efficiency initiatives for both residential and commercial structures through tax credits, deductions and rebates. Builders, homeowners and commercial facility owners can access these tax incentives when making their structures energy efficient with spray foam. Contractors can use this opportunity to encourage their customers to move forward with spray foam projects this year. We have created resources on the IRA to assist contractors that may be accessed here.

There are two other things contractors should be aware of currently. First, on the heels of the pandemic, we are grateful to see some of the material supply shortages alleviated. However, we are not yet completely out of the woods. Our industry is dependent on China for certain raw materials, particularly those used in fire retardants and blowing agents. Unfortunately, China is experiencing a surge in Covid cases, which may very likely impact the supply chain. We will see how this plays out in 2023 but should be prepared.

Second, we recommend to all contractors that they stay informed of important state and federal milestones in the industry’s shift away from HFCs and toward HFO-based blowing agents. In the past few years, states have led the move to HFO in the U.S., and a group has already banned HFC blowing agents. But in December, the EPA proposed a national ban on HFCs with a target date of January 2025. Canada has already banned HFCs.

Huntsman Building Solutions began introducing high-performing HFO-based spray foam solutions in 2014 with Foamlok 2000 4G and, anticipating heightened demand for these products, we continue to build our inventories. Our Heatlok HFO product line carries some of the highest R-values in the industry, combined with exceptional sprayability and yield. Our wide network of territory managers and technical staff are prepared to assist contractors as they move toward HFO solutions. We recommend all contractors work with their territory managers to trial Heatlok HFO so their crews are ready to spray when they need to. One of our technical service representatives will be there to ensure everything goes well.

In closing, it’s more important than ever that contractors choose their suppliers carefully. Not only is it key that they choose partners who are committed to developing superb products, but also those who work diligently behind the scenes with government at a federal level to push the spray foam agenda and protect our collective ability to conduct business. Huntsman is 100% committed to the mission of bringing spray foam further into the mainstream and establishing it as the insulation choice across North America and beyond.

Simon Baker

Global President

Huntsman Building Solutions