Canadian Plastics Industry Association

Canadian Plastics Industry Association

September 08, 2011 10:23 ET

Plastics in Building and Construction: Lowering Our Carbon Footprint

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 8, 2011) - From residential homes to commercial buildings, hospitals and schools, architects and designers rely on plastics to help maximize durability and improve energy efficiency and performance. Properly installed plastic building products can help reduce energy, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and maintenance costs, thus reducing a homeowner's carbon footprint. Here are just a few of the ways that plastics help to save energy and GHG emissions at home:

  • Insulation: From spray polyurethane foam to structural insulated panels (SIPS) to insulated concrete forms (ICFs) to extruded or expanded polystyrene foam, there are many different kinds of plastic foam insulation that can help homeowners save hundreds of dollars each year on heating and cooling bills. Insulating foam sheathing and housewrap also reduces air infiltration which helps to further reduce the energy required to heat and cool homes. For example, the use of plastic exterior foam insulation results in dramatic GHG emissions reductions. Within Canada, foam insulation reduces GHG emissions by three million tonnes per year, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of 700,000 vehicles.

  • Windows: Applying polymeric based caulks and sealants is a quick, easy fix for eliminating drafts around windows. Vinyl/PVC windows and doors offer high thermal efficiency, weather resistance, durability, do not crack, peel or chalk and never need painting. ENERGY STAR© certified products like vinyl windows and doors are guaranteed to be energy efficient, saving on heating and cooling costs for the consumer, resulting in a reduction of the GHG emissions associated with energy generation and usage.

  • Roofing: Roofing systems made with vinyl or thermoplastic olefins (TPO) single-ply membranes for the outer surface in combination with expanded or extruded polystyrene foam sheathing, polyisocyanurate foam or spray polyurethane foam underneath, offer energy savings, durability and moisture control. Plastic single ply membranes typically have a light-coloured, reflective coating, which reduces the amount of heat transported to the inside of a building. The cooler the building, the less air conditioning is required and therefore, less energy is consumed.

  • Composite Lumber: Lumber made from recycled plastics and plastic-wood composites can outlast traditional materials and requires no painting and less maintenance. Composite lumber is resistant to weathering and mould and mildew growth, ensuring freedom from rot and decay.

  • Piping: Plastic piping, which includes ABS, PVC, HDPE, CPVC or PEX, does not corrode, provides superior flow capacity and has a life expectancy measured in centuries. It delivers the highest possible quality of water to the tap for the least cost. These products can also enhance the efficiency of central vacuum and air-infiltration systems. For example, PEX which is cross-linked polyethylene piping, is lighter and more flexible than other materials, allowing for multiple feed lines throughout a house. This allows hot water to arrive faster to a sink or shower thus significantly saving water.

  • Air/Vapour Barrier: Polyethylene air or vapour barriers are an excellent way to prevent air leakage and control moisture infiltration. Their use in building and construction applications are an integral part of energy conservation efforts.

  • Siding: Vinyl siding is the number one exterior cladding choice in Canada for new construction and remodelling. It is a highly durable material, with limitless possibilities for design, will not dent or rot, never needs painting and is virtually maintenance free.

Plastic building products by their nature conserve natural resources. Doing more with less through the full life-cycle saves energy and reduces GHG emissions. Since plastics are durable, they help to reduce a building's operating/life-cycle costs. The use of plastics enhances the comfort of building occupants' and improves their quality of life.

Today's intelligent plastics are vital to the modern world. For more information visit

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association is the national voice of Canada's plastics industry, representing the interests of processors, material suppliers, equipment manufacturers, brand owners and recyclers across the country.

Contact Information

  • Canadian Plastics Industry Association
    Darlene Gray
    Marketing Communications Specialist
    905.678.7748 ext. 239