Study shows environmental benefit of adding insulation to commercial buildings during re-roofing

May 27, 2009 |

Pittsburgh, May 12, 2009 — Existing commercial buildings consume approximately 18 percent of all U.S. annual energy based on floor area, and a vast majority will require roof replacement over the next 15 to 25 years. One of the most practical and economically feasible opportunities for improving energy efficiency is to improve the thermal performance of existing buildings with low-slope roofs, according to a new study by Bayer MaterialScience LLC researchers.

The report, “Energy and Environmental Impact Reduction Opportunities for Existing Buildings with Low-Slope Roofs,” estimates the annual market opportunity for replacement covers 1.5 billion square feet of floor space. Low-slope roofs are virtually flat with minor slope for draining. Bayer MaterialScience, through supply of raw materials to polyiso manufacturers, as well as BaySystems™ polyurethane systems, is a leader in the insulation industry. By improving thermal performance during the necessary re-roofing process, owners or operators of these buildings will save $2.4 billion in utility costs, 0.266 Quads in source energy, and will prevent more than 19 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions annually after a 10-year period, according to the study.

“The tough economy has led many building owners to patch their roofs in an effort to save money now. This opens the door to a costly roof failure later,” said Jerry W. Phelan, marketing manager, polyiso, Bayer MaterialScience LLC, and lead author of the study. “They’re also missing a practical opportunity to increase energy efficiency of the building right now and in each year that follows.”

Potential savings realized with energy-efficient roof systems vary significantly between climate zones and building types. Of the 10 building types studied, seven exhibit substantial savings in all climate zones with schools reaping the greatest benefits, according to Phelan and the report’s co-authors, George Pavlovich, product safety manager, and Eric Ma, marketing manager.

“The study is based on sophisticated energy modeling and includes an entire life-cycle perspective that uses rigorous evaluations to determine energy and environmental impacts,” Pavlovich said. 

“Commercial building market data used in the analysis were based on the most complete information and recognized sources available,” Ma added. These sources included the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 

From a life-cycle perspective, the energy saved by adding insulation during roof replacement across all buildings analyzed is 20- to 28-times greater than the one-time energy required for making raw materials, manufacturing, installing and transporting the insulation based on a very conservative 30-year product life, according to the study.

The study confirms that substantial energy reduction opportunities exist with energy-efficient roof replacements on existing buildings. Yet, in light of the current economic conditions, these opportunities are lost due to the tendency to eliminate, or at least delay, capital projects. A proposed tax credit of 30 percent that covers installation costs of insulation during re-roofing could reverse this tendency dramatically and greatly reduce first costs, as well as payback periods. 

Bayer MaterialScience LLC is one of the leading producers of polymers and high-performance plastics in North America and is part of the global Bayer MaterialScience business with nearly 15,100 employees at 30 sites around the world and 2008 sales of 9.7 billion euros. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction, medical, and sports and leisure industries.

Bayer Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is a subsidiary of Bayer AG, an international health care, nutrition and high-tech materials group based in Leverkusen, Germany. In North America, Bayer had 2008 net sales of approximately 8 billion euros (about $12 billion) and employed 17,000 at year end. Bayer’s three subgroups, Bayer HealthCare, Bayer CropScience and Bayer MaterialScience, improve people’s lives through a broad range of essential products that help diagnose, prevent and treat diseases; protect crops and enhance yields; and advance automobile safety and durability.  For more information, go to


Bill Allan, Phone: 412-777-5200


For more information about Bayer MaterialScience's polyurethane insulating foam, call 1-800-662-2927, e-mail or visit

For a copy of the study, “Energy and Environmental Impact Reduction Opportunities for Existing Buildings with Low-Slope Roofs,” please contact Jerry W. Phelan at

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