It is well evidenced that there is a direct relationship between greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide, in the earth’s atmosphere and the global climate. Greenhouse gases trap heat in our atmosphere, increasing the Earth’s average temperature and causing a long-term change in the earth’s climate.
The impacts of climate change are wide ranging and include drought, flooding, extreme heat, food scarcity and animal extinction. For many years, there has been an international effort to limit global warming and the impacts of climate change. In the UK, Government passed the Climate Change Act in 2008, setting a legal target for the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.
The IPCC recently published the report ‘Global Warming of 1.5oC’. The report recommended a large range of actions to be taken by governments, businesses and individuals to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5oC and noted that a pathway to achieving this required a rapid shift to near-zero energy new builds and an increase rate of energy refurbishment to 5% per annum in OECD countries to achieve emissions reductions of 80-90% by 2050.
This is where ROCKWOOL insulation comes in. In 2017 greenhouse gas emissions from buildings made up about 20% of the UK’s total. Half of these emissions are the result of the use of fossil fuels for heating. Using less fuel to heat our buildings is therefore a crucial component to reducing building emissions and improving insulation is one of the most cost effective ways of doing that.
The EU has calculated that proper insulation can reduce a building’s heating needs by up to 70%. And it's not just insulation in the building envelope. The Carbon Trust estimate that insulating pipework and valves on hot water and heating systems could cut heat loss by up to 90%.
Our insulation is used within new buildings, and retrofitted to existing buildings. It is estimated that around 80% of buildings that will make up our built environment in 2050 are already built now, and so retrofitting those is crucial to reducing overall building emissions to meet carbon targets. Our selection of case studies showcase what our product can achieve both in new and old buildings to make energy savings and reduce emissions.
We have a dual role to play in tackling climate change, producing insulation to improve the energy performance of buildings, but also in reducing emissions down from our production and operational processes. We set stretching targets to reduce raw material use and process emissions, and have a certified Environmental Management and Energy Management Systems to manage the environmental impacts of our products and reduce our energy usage.
And crucially, throughout its lifespan, ROCKWOOL insulation typically saves approximately 85 times more carbon than is emitted during its production. ROCKWOOL building insulation can become ‘net carbon positive’ in as little as 200 days – meaning the carbon emitted during the production of building insulation is offset by the avoided emissions of the insulation’s use in buildings.
To find out more about our approach to emissions and sustainability, visit the sustainability section of our website.
And happy Green Great Britain Week!
 Committee on Climate Change