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Plastics sought after in greener construction market
Source:CPRJ Editorial Team    Author:By Sofie Chong    Date:24.Sep.2018

The rapid expansion of the construction industry all over the world will drive the building and construction plastics industry to grow at a CAGR of 7.1% until 2019, according to a report by Transparency Market Research (TMR). The building and construction plastics industry is projected to rise to US$57.51 billion by 2019.

Various product types of building and construction plastics studied in the TMR report include acrylics, polystyrene (PS), thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethanes (PU) and composite materials.

Of these, the category of PVC holds a dominant 35% market share, with the category of composite materials trailing PVCs. Acrylics are expected to be the fastest growing category among all types of building and construction plastics due to their increasing utilization in adhesives and coatings, surface coatings, and other applications.

On the basis of application, door fittings, roofing, cladding, pipes and ducts, waterproofing, and insulation are the segments of this market. Among them, pipes and ducts hold the major market share at 30%, and are expected to stay well ahead of the other applications of building and construction plastics. This is due to the poor thermal and electrical conductivity of plastics, which makes them the perfect building material for pipes as well as insulation. This has come as an advantage for new construction undertakings, especially in areas that are scarce on energy resources.

Growth in plastic pipe demand will also be robust in many developing countries. Efforts to expand access to potable water and sewage systems will boost plastic pipe demand in Africa, Asia, and South America.

China contributes significantly

The booming construction industries in China, India and Southeast Asia are expected to boost the share of Asia Pacific in the global building and construction plastics market owing to increasing population and urbanization.

China has been briskly expanding its cities and building new urbanized centers in countryside, in order to develop its rural regions and address wide income disparities. The country's permanent urban population reached 813.47 million by the end of 2017, up 1.17% year-on-year, and accounting for 58.5% of the total population, as stated in a report by Xinhua news agency.

In addition, China is the largest building construction market in the world, with up to 2 billion square meters built every year, accounting for nearly half of new construction globally in the coming decade.

The adoption of green building technologies and solutions is a key part of China’s sustainability and environmental protection goals. To improve energy efficiency of buildings, China has initiated an ambitious national plan.

As part of its 13th Five-Year Plan for 2016-2020, the country set out mandatory targets that, by 2020, at least 50% of all newly built constructions in urban areas should be certified green buildings. Besides, over 60% of the existing urban residential buildings should be improved to be energy efficient.

This brings forth enormous market potential for the industries related to building energy efficiency. It is projected that the Chinese market volume for these industries will reach US$36.3 billion by 2020. To optimize energy efficiency in buildings, the selection of building materials is critical.

Many chemical leaders have been eyeing the huge opportunities in the construction industry in China. One of them is SABIC. The company has intensified its efforts with its sustainable plastic pipe solutions, and has a vast technology team dedicated to developing special grades for pipe applications.

A significant example of the use of SABIC HDPE P6006 (P6006 is black compound high density polyethylene) to address global sustainability concerns is its approval and selection by China to safely transport natural gas to millions of residences as part of China’s Green project. P6006 pipes are lightweight, flexible, and have long life service with less risk of leaking.

North America retains noteworthy market position

In the building and construction plastics market, North America remains as the global leader with a 30% market share, said TMR. With increasing development of residential and commercial complexes in the US and Canada, the region will retain a significant position in this market.

The overall North American construction activity expanded 2.6% in 2017 following a 1.2% rise in 2016, according to a report by American Chemistry Council (ACC). The largest portion of US construction spending is in the private sector which includes the housing market, a key-end use market for plastic resins. In the US, the housing market continues to expand, with new housing starts up 2.6% to 1.2 million units in 2017. Housing starts are steadily moving toward long-term demand of 1.5 million units per year.

On the other hand, the European building and construction plastics market is expected to experience a fall due to economic downfall in the region.

Sustainability the biggest trend

Facing the energy challenges, sustainability has undeniably become the biggest trend of future buildings. At present, buildings reducing energy consumption and minimizing pollution have emerged all around the world, which also provide people with a healthy and comfortable living environment.

Aerial view of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city.In July 2018, the second major phase of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC) project was launched. The Eco-City is a bilateral project between China and Singapore, which has received strong support from both the governments. BASF and Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City are jointly building the world's tallest certified passive house.

Passive houses use up to 90% less heating and cooling energy compared with traditional buildings, and over 75% less energy compared to average new buildings. Special windows and a building envelope consisting of highly insulated roof and floor slab as well as highly insulated exterior walls keep the desired warmth in the house.

BASF jointly developed a polyester alloy window with Shide Group (实德科技). It is among the few window and door products in the Chinese market that meet the requirements of passive house design and are certified by Passive House Institute of Germany.

The two flat strips made of Ultradur thermoplastic polyester from BASF are co-extruded into insulated PVC door and window profiles, replacing the metal profile as reinforcement.

Providing housing quickly, cost-effectively and sustainably is indeed a global challenge. This is true above all in low-income and economically underdeveloped regions, but also in places where housing is scarce or expensive, such as in densely populated areas or cities with a high influx of refugees.

In May last year, together with industry partners, governments, government agencies and society, Covestro announced that the company has supplied PU for the House of Nations, a pilot affordable building unveiled in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany.

As introduced, this energy-efficient building was completed in just four weeks. The outer envelope of the model building is fully insulated with PU. The walls comprise a core of PU foam encased in a thin layer of cement. The floors with insulation boards and the drop ceiling likewise are insulated with PU.

The annual heating energy requirement is designed to be less than 15 kilowatt-hours per square meter, meaning the building fulfills the respective requirements of the passive house standard. In addition, the panels are very lightweight. Therefore, transporting them is simple and consumes less fuel.

Bioplastics the remarkable opportunity

An expected increase in regulations on environmentally unsafe building and construction plastics in most parts of the world is one of the major restraints of the global construction plastics market. However, one of the direct opportunities brought forward by the growing environmental awareness is the rising demand for bioplastics.

An application example of bioplastics in construction market came from DYKA, a leading European producer of plastic pipework systems and member of the Tessenderlo Group. The company has launched the piping system made of bioplastics, under the name DYKA Bioplastic.

This first product in the company’s new bioplastic line is a rainwater piping system designed for residential buildings, both newly constructed buildings and existing homes. The new pipes and accessories are made of a durable, non-biodegradable Polylactic Acid (PLA) derived from sugar beet. The company aims to further widen the application options of bioplastic materials for the market in the future, in order to contribute to the evolution towards a greener building and construction industry.

Rising construction spending fuels flame retardants consumption

According to Freedonia's study, the worldwide flame retardant consumption in construction applications is projected to increase 3.2% per annum through 2020 to 803,000 metric tons.

Sales of flame retardants used in construction applications record the strongest growth of any major market through 2018. It will account for the largest share of the market in that year with 28% of the total worldwide.

Freedonia said overall flame retardant sales gains will be fueled by steady gains in manufacturing output, particularly by steady increases in building construction spending in the US.

The US is the world's largest market for construction-related flame retardants. It is also the most intensive user relative to building construction spending of any major national market. Through 2020, steady gains in the US will continue to provide an impetus to growth, the report noted.

Rising flame retardant utilization rates in developing countries will also spur demand. As populations become ever more concentrated in urban centers, it will be of greater importance to strictly enforce building codes to reduce incidences of fire, bolstering flame retardant sales in such products as foamed plastic insulation and vinyl flooring. This will stimulate demand in related markets as well, such as furniture, wire and cable, etc.



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