Stemming from reports that Jamaicans will face unprecedented heat levels in little over a decade, the call for better home insulation is expected to grow.
Andrew Stanigar, managing director of Spectrum Systems Limited, said the effects of global warming would increase the need for cooling of all habitable structures, and insulation is the most economical way to cool a building.
"The use of insulation is already becoming mandatory for public and commercial-sector facilities," he said. "Eventually, this will also be the case for private dwellings. Accordingly, the industries that manufacture and install insulation will grow considerably in the future." He felt the technology could keep pace with any expected increase in activity.
"From a production standpoint, there is considerable capacity to produce the various types of insulation," he said. "From a technical standpoint, there are multiple options for reducing the effects of solar-heat loading on structures, both at the building envelope and within the structure itself."
New designs essential
President of the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association, Carvel Stewart, cautioned that new designs for homes would be essential, but this could be costly.
"Unfortunately, when things are new, they always cost more," he said. "That's initially what is going to happen. Hopefully, they will come back to dealing with the materials in a sensible way." When asked about what options lower-income homeowners had, Stanigar gave two.
"Depending on the type of roof, the lowest cost options would be radiant-heat barriers," he said. "These are installed beneath the roof system, but above the ceiling, and reflective coatings applied to the external surface of the roof." Stanigar said that at current exchange rates, the price range for roofing solutions would be about $18.50 plus tax per square foot for an economical radiant-heat barrier, and about $155 plus tax per square foot for a two-inch thickness of highly efficient rigid foam insulation.
"These costs could be lowered if the authorities lower the customs duties and taxes applicable to the importation and sale of these items," Stanigar said.