What's good insulation?

Many architects use imported, expensive and environmentally inappropriate material

Walls and roofs of a building should be built in a way that its indoor temperature is not disturbed and the extreme heat or cold outside does not intrude, say architects. But this basic wisdom is now on a market overdrive as a large number of insulation products have flooded the market. This market, expected to be worth Rs 3,550 crore ($670 million) by 2015, is booming at an unprecedented rate of 20 per cent a year, states a report by the Tata Strategy Management Group and FICCI released in October this year.

Poorly insulated buildings are difficult to air-condition and lead to high energy loss. The market is, therefore, abuzz with products that can be padded to the walls to improve buildings’ thermal insulation. These include hazardous materials like mineral wool, rock wool, vermiculite, foams, expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene. Market is also agog with technologies like vacuum and gas insulations. But this pushes for more air-conditioners when the need is to improve the design and make the buildings naturally comfortable.

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