CLEVELAND — Global demand for insulation is expected to rise 3.7 percent per year to 26 billion square meters of R-1 value in 2020, according to a new study from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

Developing countries are expected to account for the majority of insulation demand gains, with rising building construction activity and industrial output driving growth. For example, over half of new global demand generated between 2015 and 2020 will occur in the Asia/Pacific region. China, India, and Indonesia are among that region’s developing countries expected to post solid growth in insulation demand. In high-income countries, a combination of recovery in construction activity and efforts to make existing buildings more energy efficient will boost insulation demand.

Sustained growth in residential building construction will be the largest driver of insulation demand worldwide. In North America, for example, demand for insulation in the residential construction market is expected to grow 4 percent per year in R-1 value through 2020, due primarily to continued expansion in housing construction activity in the U.S. Residential building construction activity in Western Europe is expected to accelerate through 2020, boosting insulation sales in many regional countries. According to analyst Nick Cunningham, "Rural-to-urban migration in developing countries in the Asia/Pacific and Africa/Mideast regions will stimulate building activity in urban areas and therefore insulation demand, as urban buildings are usually more insulation intensive than those in rural areas.” Additionally, rising per capita incomes will encourage the use of modern building techniques and building materials, including insulation. In some countries in the Africa/Mideast and Asia/Pacific regions, the adoption of minimum insulation requirements will also contribute to demand.

Rising nonresidential construction activity worldwide, including an expected rebound in Western Europe, will drive insulation usage. Additionally, insulation demand in the industrial, HVAC, and OEM markets will be boosted by expanding manufacturing activity, appliance output, and HVAC system installations. Worldwide shipments of refrigerators and freezers, for example, are expected to increase 2.7 percent annually through 2020.

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Publication date: 8/12/2016

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