John Sinfield, Managing Director Knauf Insulation is BMBI’s Expert for Mineral Wool Insulation.
Housebuilding momentum and a growing number of enquiries for non-combustible insulation material mean demand for glass and rock mineral wool remain strong. This follows a particularly buoyant end of 2017 and start of 2018.
These higher sales have resulted in some supply restrictions across the insulation market. In the past, manufacturers have been able to import product to match sales to demand – due to strong markets in Europe, that option is not available this time. The restrictions should ease towards the end of the year, as manufacturers, and their supply chains, see the effects of adjustments made to their operations.
Looking further ahead, there are good indications that the longer-term outlook for glass and rock mineral wool insulation products remains positive.
As one of the four Grand Challenges that underpin the Government’s Industrial Strategy, the ambition to ‘at least halve energy use of new buildings by 2030’ can only be a good thing for our sector.
The need for innovative solutions to drive value and unlock more carbon has been a recurring theme in my quarterly comments for BMBI. So, we were encouraged to see the Government emphasise the need for innovative, low-cost, energy-saving measures in its response to the ECO3 scheme (Energy Company Obligations) consultation.
In June, a separate consultation was opened, banning combustible materials in the external walls of high-rise residential buildings. When concluded, it will be interesting to see how this adds to demand for non-combustible glass and rock mineral wool insulation. Over this last quarter, there have already been a number of influential voices speak out on this issue. RIBA, the Association of British Insurers, the MCRMA, Chair of the Local Government Association Lord Porter, the APPG on Fire Safety and Rescue, and most recently, the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, have all called for a ban on the use of combustible building materials.
All of these developments stand to provide opportunities for glass and rock mineral wool insulation manufacturers. But, for the industry to have the confidence to invest in capacity and innovation for the future, we must see sustained commitment from Government to currently planned energy efficiency policies and initiatives.