You have probably seen commercials and internet ads for the ‘Human Element’ campaign (Hu).  This campaign represents the commitment to sustainability and the future of human life by the Dow Chemical Company.  Dow has established a Sustainability 2015 Goals report that is responsible for dedicating their company’s research and development to new products that will help advance the building industry with correspondence to the government’s energy efficiency goals.

Their interest in sustainable insulation for high-efficiency buildings has drawn attention from the DOE who has recently awarded Dow Chemical $2.9 million as one of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects.  This funding is a portion of the $22.8 million dollars that is dedicated to developing and manufacturing products that improve the efficiency of building envelopes and windows.  The Dow Chemical company added nearly $3 million of private funding bringing the total project budget to $5.9 million.

The project goal is to manufacture an insulating material of 7.5 R-value per inch.  This means a standard exterior insulation of 4 inches would achieve an R-value of 30, and 6 inch insulation would have an R-value of 45.  Insulations obtaining these thermal properties already exist; however, Dow looks to manufacture a material that is less expensive and more durable while, considering environmental qualities. 

Using this material they will team up with corporate partners at Dow Corning’s building solutions department and create a vacuum insulated panel (VIP) that will be able to be sold to contractors at an affordable cost.  These panels can be used as an Exterior Insulated Finishing System (EIFS).  Dow Corning was awarded 1.2 million to complete this end of the project.  While Dow Corning is heading in the right direction with their sustainability goals other companies based in the U.S. have already produced similar materials. 

CertainTeed, a North American branch of Isover, has a complete line of sustainable, eco-friendly insulations.  Their most popular energy-efficient insulation is Greenguard certified.  By awarding funding to Dow Corning, the government has induced lower market prices and higher availability of these energy-efficient insulations.  At the same time, it pushes other companies such as CertainTeed to compete with their products as well. 

 According to the DOE, the building envelope accounts for 36% of a buildings energy use and half of this energy is lost through the roof, foundation and walls.  These new insulation products that are funded as ARRA projects will help to reduce this energy loss. 

For more information about other ARRA projects visit the sustainable construction news blog.

Click here for DOE selected project listings