José Manuel Cánovas
General Manager Insulation LA
Owens Corning

Insulation to Promote Sustainable Infrastructure

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 15:11

During the COP22 summit in November 2016, Mexico established itself as a leader in the charge toward emissions reductions when it became one of the first three countries globally to pledge a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. José Manuel Cánovas, General Manager Insulation LA at Owens Corning, says that Mexico is on the right path to support sustainable industries, but the government still needs to walk the walk. “Protocols signed by the government still need to be converted into reality,” he says.

One way to help reduce emissions is to optimize buildings. According to the WRI, at least 20 percent of Mexico City’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, but the route to lowering these numbers could be simpler than previously thought. “Studies show that beyond energy-saving air conditioners, the best way to reduce energy consumption is to simply eliminate its use when possible,” says Cánovas. “This can be achieved through proper insulation systems that keep spaces warm and cool as needed.” He believes Mexico could still impose more demanding norms and standards when it comes to insulation requirements in construction.

An issue is that investors and contractors tend to choose cheap insulation materials, especially if they intend to simply flip the property when it is completed. “What makes our fiberglass insulation more expensive than that of some competitors is the fact that we pursue very high- quality standards,” says Cánovas. “We believe the quality of our products contributes to our identity as permanent market leaders and allows us to be recognized for our efficiency and sustainability.” Fiberglass insulation is often not prioritized because it is located between walls and therefore not an aesthetic factor for developers.

As end users eventually have to face important costs if their buildings are not properly insulated, cheaper materials end up creating higher costs for end users, and they are more prone to fire and safety hazards. “Some of the insulation products in the market today claim to be more ecological, but these popular and cheaper methods attract rodents and are highly flammable,” says Cánovas.

“Companies end up having to use a lot of toxic chemicals to mitigate these effects.”

Despite the competition from lower-priced suppliers, many see the value in Owens Corning’s products, and the company participates in the most important commercial projects in the country. “The market appreciates our high standards and quality,” says Cánovas. “We are leaders in the Mexican insulation market and we have a technical office that offers advice to architects and engineers.” The company is so committed to the country that it established a plant in Mexico City that produces fiberglass products. “We are strategic about the countries in which we establish facilities and we saw value in investing in Mexico,” he says.

Within the company’s international business strategy, Mexico plays an integral role. It represents the US company’s entrance to Latin America and plays the part of Owens Corning’s entry point to the region. Due to its strategic positioning, Owens Corning representative office in Mexico plays a key role to export and gain market share in the insulation market in Latin America. “We see many areas of opportunity to continue penetrating the insulation market as companies are not insulating their buildings properly, and many have yet to incorporate any insulation at all,” says Cánovas.

As part of its expansion strategy, the company plans to fine-tune its services by offering a wider variety of products. “Instead of trying to place fiberglass insulation throughout the entire building, we want to help companies identify the best type of insulation for each area,” explains Cánovas. For example, fiberglass insulation is not the best material for basements; plastic insulation tends to be a better fit. The company’s R&D efforts are routed to provide a solution for any and all projects. Owens Corning’s foam glass insulation is one of the few that provides a 50-year quality guarantee. In Europe, it is widely used in airports. “Companies that are already investing billions of dollars into a project should choose this material,” Cánovas says. “It is a beneficial, incomparable long-term investment and ideal for iconic projects.”