Contact: Jennifer Killinger (202) 249-6619 
Email: jennifer_killinger@americanchemistry.com

Plastics Already Play Key Role in Reducing Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Homes and Buildings

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 15, 2011) - Today Architecture 2030 issued a global challenge, asking the architecture and building community to specify, design and manufacture products that meet a maximum carbon-equivalent footprint to 30 percent below that of product category averages through 2014. The embodied carbon-equivalent reduction will be incrementally increased to 50 percent by 2030.

The American Chemistry Council's (ACC) Plastics Division issued the following statement, which may be attributed to Keith Christman, managing director of plastics markets:

"America's plastics makers welcome Architecture 2030's latest challenge and the attention it brings to the importance of energy efficiency in the built environment. 

"The American Chemistry Council has long been a strong supporter of the use of life cycle studies - an evaluation of a product's environmental impact from manufacturing and transportation through installation, use and disposal - as a transparent and comprehensive approach to minimizing and reducing the environmental impact of our nation's homes and buildings. 

"Every day, plastic insulation, sealants, roofing, doors and window frames are helping to make our homes and buildings more energy efficient and more cost effective to operate.  Life cycle studies, which help to quantify the environmental benefits of plastics, show that plastics not only help with energy efficiency in a completed house or building, but also save energy, fuel, and greenhouse gas emissions as these materials - typically lighter weight than alternatives - are manufactured and transported to the building site.

"Although Architecture 2030's latest announcement focuses on reducing the energy footprint in manufacturing of products, it is important to also consider the environmental impacts or benefits derived from a product's use phase.  For example, a recent life cycle study by McKinsey & Company shows that by bringing about significant reductions in heating and cooling needs, plastic foam insulation saves 233 times the greenhouse gas emissions generated in production during the product's life.  To be truly effective, building and construction decision makers need to look at the amount of energy and greenhouse gas emissions that can be saved over the entire life of a product - not just during its manufacture.

"In a joint project with the U.S. Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory, ACC's Plastics Division has completed and made publically available life cycle data for major plastics that are used in building and construction products. This information can be accessed through NREL's life cycle database or in a report format .  Product manufacturers will be able to use this information as they prepare full life cycle inventory data for specific products.

 

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