As we begin a new decade, we’re looking back on a busy and significant year here at NBT Soprema. Indeed, in many ways, 2019 has been a milestone for us that will provide both a baseline for measuring future growth and a catalyst to drive change in the built environment sector.
A Year of Transition
NBT was acquired by global building products specialist, Soprema, around three and a half years ago, but it wasn’t until May of this year that we formally merged with the company to create an integrated offering for the UK that covers insulation, waterproofing and liquid-applied roofing.
It’s been a year of transition for NBT’s part of that equation as we adjust to being part of a growing international company that operates in 90 markets worldwide and has a network of more than 50 manufacturing sites globally. However, our focus, as ever, has been on delivering the right solutions to customers, backed by the expert technical support of our team. That remains something that hasn’t and won’t change regardless of the new structure and extended resources.
It’s also been a year of exploring what new opportunities the merger can bring, both for NBT Soprema as a company, and for our customers. It’s clear that there is a need in the construction sector for integrated building envelope solutions that offer improved year-round performance, buildability benefits and a single source warranty. There is huge potential here for Soprema to leverage the products and technical expertise within its new structure to answer this need. Our vision is for complete solutions that can be used to design plug-and-play envelope build-ups, enabling us to train site operatives in the installation of a specific system and ensure it is fully-warrantied.
There’s an enormous opportunity for us to adopt learnings and best practice from across Soprema’s global network too, and apply them to the UK market. Our UK business sits within the Northern Europe cluster, which includes the Benelux countries and Scandinavia, where synergies in climate and legacy building stock present a natural scope for shared R&D. And to drive that R&D, we now have access to dedicated R&D facilities in Belgium, where we’ll be progressing plans for hybrid and integrated roof and wall systems.
In the meantime, we have been focused on providing a simplified and streamlined offer to customers that offers clear woodfibre insulation specification choices while delivering the thermal performance, airtightness and building comfort solutions needed for improved indoor environments and energy efficiency.
The market for woodfibre insulation has grown over the course of 2019 with more and more mainstream projects seeking the benefits of natural fibres, and the drive towards improved sustainability continuing to gather pace. This includes a high level of engagement with the off-site construction and timber frame sectors, where the clear benefits of woodfibre’s performance have been recognised.
Agile & Responsive
It all adds up to exciting times ahead in 2020, but we remain mindful of the need to be agile and responsive as a business and to work collaboratively with a range of stakeholders in order to leverage the full benefits of woodfibre insulation.
Misinformation about building materials, in particular when it comes to fire and combustibility, is still affecting specification choices. Consequently, we will be working hard over the coming year to highlight the safety elements of woodfibre insulation as part of a building envelope structure.
We’re also keen to endorse the report issued by the EEIG (Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group), of which NBT Soprema is a member. The report states the case for the Government to fund retrofitting of insulation to the UK’s housing stock in the same way they would fund any other infrastructure project. Only then can we offset the continuing rise in demand for energy by reducing waste through heat loss and cooling requirements.
Equally, we will continue to emphasise the importance of a ‘fabric first’ approach to specification over the coming year, helping specifiers to understand the benefits of natural materials like the Pavatex range of woodfibre insulation across the project lifecycle. This includes buildability advantages, performance in retaining heat and minimising thermal gain and long-term service life and maintenance.
Ahead of the Field
Of course, we can’t reveal everything we have up our sleeves for 2020 just yet. Apart from the fact that there’s simply too much to tell, there are also a number of initiatives that are in their infancy for now. For example, we are working on a major collaborative programme to engage with stakeholders outside of the construction industry, which aims to understand more about the impact of indoor environments on health and wellbeing.
As we embark on a new decade, the pace of change in the way we live and the way we build continues to accelerate. At NBT Soprema, we are ready to run ahead of the field.