A new study commissioned by Kingspan Insulation has reported a high Return on Investment (ROI) from non-residential buildings using advanced slimline wall insulation solutions.

Kingspan Insulation commissioned world-leading asset management and construction consultancies, Currie & Brown Australia and Sweett Group UK to investigate the ‘Real Value of Space in Commercial Real Estate’. The primary objective of the study was to quantify the potential financial benefits from insulating the external walls of new non-residential buildings using Kingspan’s high performance slimline wall insulation solutions.

From the report: "A lower thermal conductivity can result in thinner insulation. A thinner insulation can result in thinner external wall construction. A thinner external wall construction can result in greater internal floor area. A greater internal floor area can result in a greater Return on Investment (ROI)."

The research found that these buildings could achieve an ROI as high as 856 per cent from using advanced slimline wall insulation solutions when compared with conventional installations using glass wool fibre batts.

Currie & Brown and Sweett Group developed a research program to analyse the thickness differentials of various insulation systems and evaluate their impact on costs and returns in a development. Three buildings were then analysed as case studies to illustrate the outcomes.

Concrete external wall constructions were examined and two Kingspan Kooltherm build-ups were compared against conventional steel stud-and-track wall systems using 90mm glass wool fibre batts. The differential in thickness and cost were taken into account in the analyses.

The study found that the slimline design of Kooltherm K12 and K17 allowed for thinner external wall build ups, returning a greater internal floor area, and the potential for an improved return on investment. Even though there was an increase in capital expenditure of $18.03 per square metre for the wall build-up using Kingspan Kooltherm K12 framing board, a positive return on investment was found for all scenarios with rental rates of $400 per square metre or greater, across all yield rates, the highest of which was 856 per cent. More than 70 per cent of the building scenarios analysed showed a positive return.

Additionally, Kingspan Kooltherm K17 insulated plasterboard is cheaper as an installed system than conventional steel stud-and-track wall systems incorporating 90mm glass wool fibre batts; therefore, every square metre of additional space created with Kooltherm produces a net gain in value.

Kingspan Insulation Technical R&D Manager Keith Anderson explains that this is partly because the rigid Kooltherm K17 insulation board is already pre-bonded to plasterboard and can be fixed directly to a solid wall without needing any framing, making it both quicker to install and thinner.

Anderson adds that both the Kooltherm K12 and K17 systems facilitate internal space gains without having to increase the overall footprint of a building. The width of external walls incorporating Kingspan’s Kooltherm concrete wall insulation systems is up to 16 per cent slimmer than the built-up width of concrete walls using glass wool fibre batts in a stud-and-track system.

Also the ultra-low conductivity of Kingspan’s Kooltherm wall insulation solutions means they can achieve the same thermal performance as glass wool fibre batts in a much thinner profile.

While commercial real estate values continue to be at a premium, Australian developers and their design teams will continue to be under increasing pressure to maximise usable internal areas to boost returns on their investment in new commercial buildings. Anderson believes the new Kingspan Insulation research findings very convincingly demonstrate the first step.

Image: Kooltherm K17 insulation board