Insulation is a great green addition to the building, but not all insulation materials are green in their production. Traditional manmade insulation is often made from heavy production techniques and because of this can be quite environmentally damaging to produce, even though it does prevent energy loss.
Fortunately, awareness of this has seen a number of fantastic, high quality green alternatives come to the fore. These alternatives aren’t created from nearly as many chemicals as traditional insulation and also often are made completely from natural or recycled materials. This of course means you can remain green from production of insulation to prevention of heat loss.
Insulation is measured by what’s known as ‘R-value’ this is the restriction of the flow of heat caused by the product and is measured on a scale of R1 – R60, Materials used during insulation generally fall between R30 – R60.
So, let’s take a look at some of the great green forms of insulation available.
Yes, sheep’s wool is used increasingly as insulation thanks to its natural heat holding properties. Of course, the fact this is a natural material has significant green benefits, but that’s not all. Because wool is very breathable it absorbs a lot of moisture – around 30% of its own weight. This means that it has significant damp prevention abilities and averts a build-up of condensation, as well as keeping the property warm. It’s also quite easy to install and may just require some professional help and the person to rent tools. It’s also fire resistant too, something not all insulation is.
Jeans are made from cotton and left over cotton is often used as insulation. Cotton has a lot of the same insulator properties as fibre glass, however it is not nearly as damaging as it is not treated with formaldehyde or cause respiratory problems. It can also be treated with boric acid to ensure it is inflammable. However, though it may be like fibre glass in a lot of ways, it costs twice as much.
This material is 90% air and made from silica. Its molecular structure means that heat finds it near impossible to pass through and so it provides amazing insulation properties. In fact, it is three times as good of insulator per inch as either wool or cotton, with a measurement of R10 per inch of thickness. However, it’s also very expensive.
Cellulose is made from around 80% old newspaper and is held together by chemical compounds, though doesn’t use formaldehyde. It offers a similar insulation value to that of wool and fibre glass, though is a lot lower in price than the natural insulator and a lot greener than fibre glass.
Structural Insulated Panels
Structural Insulated Panels or SIPs are essentially polystyrene slabs that are positioned between strand boards. Though, polystyrene is a plastic and you’d imagine not so green, it is still touted as environmentally friendly thanks to its amazing insulation properties. It can also be recycled after use.
These forms of insulation provide greener, higher quality coverage than most alternatives and so should be considered for the building.