Engineer, architects and designers nowadays use and rely on plastics in the construction of new homes to the retrofit and renovation of commercial buildings and from hospitals to schools to help maximize energy efficiency, durability and performance. In addition to potentially lightening a structure’s environmental footprint, properly installed plastic building products can help reduce energy and maintenance costs, improve aesthetics and safety over many years.
Leaving a lighter footprint on the environment through conservation of resources, while at the same time balancing energy-efficient, cost-effective, low-maintenance products for our construction needs. In other words, green design involves finding the delicate balance between homebuilding and the sustainable environment.
A one-year study found that the use of plastic building and construction materials saved 467.2 trillion Btu of energy over alternative construction materials.
Some examples of plastic building products that promote the efficient use of energy and other resources:
Reflective light colour roofing membranes made of vinyl or thermoplastic olefin (TPO) blends are key energy saving applications especially for commercial buildings in southern climes. Studies have shown that the surface temperature of a light covered roof compared to a darker one could be as much as much lower.
Whether it is spray polyurethane foam (SPF) in the attic or rigid foam polyiso board on the roof, polyurethane based systems offer durability, energy savings and moisture control. When used for retrofit situations, they also help reduce the amount of building waste sent to landfills.
In walls, behind walls and under floors, the use of polystyrene foams can provide significant energy efficiency. For example, rigid extruded polystyrene (XPS) is a builder favourite because it can be installed easily and effectively. Structural insulated panels (SIPs) made with expanded polystyrene (EPS) can help homeowners save hundreds of dollars annually on heating and cooling bills.
- Wall Coverings
Vinyl based wall coverings are commonly used for durable, easy-to-clean hospitality and health care facilities. Vinyl requires only half as much energy to manufacture as the same amount of paper wall coverings.
Plastics rival traditional materials for window glazing. For example, polycarbonate – a material also used in eyeglasses – is used as panes. These clear, lightweight, shatter-resistant plastic products have low thermal conductivity, which can help to reduce heating and cooling costs.
Vinyl window frames are inherently energy efficient and save the U.S. nearly 2 trillion thermal units of energy per year, helping reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy generation – all the while cutting maintenance time, materials and costs.
Plastic pipe and fittings are easy to install durable and will not rust or corrode over time. Several types of plastics are used for piping depending on the properties and performance required. Whether they are polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) they each offer excellent fusion integrity when joined properly helping to eliminate potential leak points where water could be wasted.
In home building, flexible blue and red cross-linked polyethylene piping (PEX) is becoming builders’ favourite for hot and cold water delivery all managed and hooked into a central and effective manifold system. This is due to its flexibility, lightness, and ease of installation—allowing multiple feed lines throughout a house, which allows hot water to arrive more quickly to a sink or shower. This can significantly save water.
- Decks, Fences and Railings
Lumber planks and rails made from recycled plastics or plastic-wood composites are carefully engineered to same dimensions so warp age and knots are virtually eliminated. They can outlast traditional materials, often require less maintenance, and are resistant to peeling, cracking, splintering or fading.
Source : plastics.americanchemistry
 Plastics Energy and Greenhouse Gas Savings Using Rigid Foam Sheathing Applied to Exterior Walls of Single Family Residential Housing in the U.S. and Canada – A Case Study. Franklin Associates, Prairie Village, KS, 2000.