want a leader in insulation as the world goes green? Head to Co Cavan, Ireland

Linda J. Dodson

When we think of carbon emissions, images of gas-guzzling SUVs and airliners tend to pop into our minds. But four in every 10 tons of carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere actually comes from buildings.

A company whose products lead the world in cutting emissions from buildings at a time when governments everywhere want a “green” tinge to their coronavirus recovery efforts, and which save the occupiers of those buildings money in the process, therefore seems an intriguing investment opportunity.

Ireland is the perhaps unexpected home of this company. Kingspan, which is based in County Cavan, not far from the Northern Ireland border, but is listed in London, makes insulation boards that can be built in at the time of construction or added later. It also makes other types of insulation, such as roof panels and those used for pipework. All can help a building use less energy for heating or air conditioning.

Martin Todd, who holds a stake in the firm in the Federated Hermes Impact Opportunities fund, which he co-manages, was full of praise for the company and its products. “Its insulation has far better thermal properties than rival products. It lasts longer, while some products made by its main rival are affected by water,” he said.

He said Kingspan invested more in research and development – €30m (£27m) last year – than its competitors and was continuing to innovate and improve the thermal characteristics of its insulation. “The latest products are even better and, while they are more expensive, the cost should fall over time,” he said.

“There is also a safety element: the panels mustn’t be flammable so the firm is investing a lot in a facility that tests flammability in ‘real life’ conditions. Kingspan is truly a world leader.”

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