The Basics of Green Insulation
Today the idea of “being green” is quite popular and it seems that many products are labeled as green. In order to determine the accuracy of the claim of an eco friendly insulation we need to define what it means to be a green insulation. All insulation is green insulation in the sense that an insulated structure is much more efficient than an un-insulated one. Some insulation products are more “green” than others, so it is important to evaluate the impact of production has upon the environment. Factors to consider are:
• What raw materials are required?
• Is there any recycled content?
• Are there harmful chemicals in the insulation?
• What is the embodied energy (the cumulative impact of producing and delivering the product)?
• What is the durability over the life of the insulation, and recyclability once the building has expired?
You can increase the energy efficiency of all eco insulation by combining EcoFoil radiant barrier and bubble with standard mass insulation.
Raw Materials and Eco Insulation
The first step in evaluating whether an insulation is a green insulation you must consider what raw materials are used in its production. For example:
• Rigid foam insulations are petroleum based and their production contributes to the depletion of valuable fossil fuels which will contribute to the rise in petroleum prices.
• Boron is a mineral that is used in production of fiberglass and cellulous insulation. At current rates of production the U.S. Bureau of Mines shows an estimated 54 year reserve of Boron here in the U.S.
When choosing a green insulation, look for a product that uses our resources responsibly and contains as much recycled content as possible.
Eco Friendly Insulation: It’s all about Recycled Content
A product’s raw material is important, but what is more important is how much of it is produced from recycled content. A product that uses 100% raw materials would not be much of a green insulation. Here are some common types of insulation and their approximate recycled content:
• Fiberglass = 20%,
• Cellulose = 75%
• Rock wool = 75%.
• The recycled content of polystyrene (EPS and XPS) varies greatly.
These values will vary from brand to brand so check with the manufacture’s specifications before choosing which eco friendly insulation is right for you.
Chemicals and Environmentally Friendly Insulation
It would be nearly impossible to manufacture a green insulation product without the use of any chemicals, so when choosing your eco insulation make sure you are aware of what chemicals are used. The most harmful chemicals used in insulation are Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s), which are a major contributor to greenhouse gasses. CFC’s have been substituted in the manufacturing process of polystyrene insulation with Hydrofluorocarbons (HCFC’s), which are slightly less harmful to the environment. Fortunately, the insulation industry is moving towards alternative blowing agents that are much friendlier to the environment.
Other Factors in Qualifying Green Insulation
There are many other factors in considering which product is the most environmentally friendly insulation. While an insulation product is designed to save energy, it may consume a great deal of energy to produce it, as well as to deliver it to the consumer. Durability can also be a concern over the life of an insulation product:
•Fiberglass insulation’s effectiveness is greatly reduced when it becomes wet and it can be displaced by wind and rodents.
• Rigid foam can experience what is known as R-drift. The effective R value can drop as the blowing agent slowly evaporates over time, allowing air leaks.
It is important to take all of these factors into consideration, as well as which product works best for your application, when choosing your eco insulation.
EcoFoil and Green Insulation
Get the most out of your eco-friendly insulation by adding EcoFoil radiant barrier in your attic, under your concrete, and in your wall systems. All of the typical mass insulations discussed here help keep out heat from conductive and convective heat but they don’t protect your home from the sun’s powerful radiant heat. Use EcoFoil radiant foil and bubble products to create a total system and maximize the efficiency of your home. For more information visit www.ecofoil.com or call 1-888-349-3645 to speak with one of our technical experts.