Green Insulation Choices for Your Home
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Green Insulation Choices for Your Home

Some insulating products are greener than others, such as cotton fiber and soy-based foam.

We all know how prevalent the “green” movement is and the materials we put inside our walls and ceilings are turning a deeper shade of green everyday. The traditional materials like fiberglass and foam are incorporating recycled and renewable materials in their products and other alternatives now widely available.

While some materials have been both praised and criticized, such as fiberglass, consider this data from the fiberglass industry, for every Btu of energy it takes to make fiberglass insulation, 12 Btu are saved every year. (Source: Tom Newton, CertainTeed)

Given that other insulation products deliver similar benefits, the “greening effect” is judged by the end-user. For instance, some contain a high percentage of recycled material; others come in new formulations that remove or replace ingredients known to be environmentally harmful. Then there are natural products, like cotton, that get major green points because they pose no risk to people with allergies or chemical sensitivities. Soy is also gaining rapid acceptance as an insulating material.

Insulation Overview

The chief measure of insulation performance is R-value, which is derived from standardized tests that determine how well the material resists heat flow; the higher the resistance, the higher the R-value. Current standards in most parts of the U.S. call for at least R-13 exterior walls and R-39 ceilings.

Typically, the better a material performs, the more it costs. Sometimes this is due to emerging products and manufacturing technologies create a dearth of supply when they occupy a tiny sliver of the market. Here are two materials that are green and efficient in the two major forms, fiber and foam.

Cotton

Cotton fiber insulation is made primarily of recycled denim. The manufacturer of UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber combines 35 years of experience with a patented manufacturing process that has created a superior and safe product.

UltraTouch is made from high quality natural fibers. These fibers contain inherent qualities that provide for extremely effective sound absorption and maximum thermal performance. UltraTouch causes no skin irritation and is very easy to handle and work with.

UltraTouch contains no chemical irritants and requires no warning labels compared to other traditional products. There are no VOC concerns when using UltraTouch, as it is safe for you and the environment.

UltraTouch is also a Class-A Building Product and meets the highest ASTM testing standards for fire and smoke ratings, fungi resistance and corrosiveness. The material is treated with a borate fire retardant which is also used in cellulose insulation. UltraTouch contains 85% post-industrial recycled natural fibers.

The cotton insulation contains an EPA registered fungal inhibitor to actively resist the growth of mold, fungi and bacteria and has passed the stringent Environmental Specification 1350 Indoor Air Pollutant testing used for California Public Schools.

UltraTouch consists almost entirely of natural denim and cotton fibers that are 100% recyclable, reducing landfill waste. The denim and cotton are also 100% post-industrial which requires a minimal amount of energy to manufacture that also reduces pollution. It is LEED® eligible product.

Soy

BioBased Insulation® is soy-based polyurethane spray-in-place foam. These products have excellent thermal and sound insulating properties that can help to create a healthy, comfortable, energy efficient and durable residential or commercial structure.

BioBased Insulation® offers several polyurethane foam products suitable for home, commercial and industrial structures. BioBased 501w®, and BioBased® 502 are open cell, semi-rigid spray foams. BioBased 1701s®, a closed cell, rigid spray foam that was the first polyurethane spray foam insulation to earn GREENGUARD for Children and Schools certification. BioBased® 3001 is closed cell foam sealant. BioBased Insulation® is LEED® eligible and Energy Star® rated.

These products also integrate natural oils as a replacement for a portion of the petroleum used in spray foam systems. BioBased Insulation® also is applied using water as the blowing agent. Both of these are steps that lessen the impact on the environment without sacrificing the performance.

Sources:

Cotton

Bonded Logic, Inc.

http://www.bondedlogic.com/index.htm

Soy

BioBased Insulation

http://www.biobased.net/index.php

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Comments (3)

Interesting. We don't use most of these here in UK.

excellent article

Brilliant account, which really helps to clarify thia issue.

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