From a full Passivhaus design to a simple loft conversion the effective use of insulation has never been more high profile. One of the key features of current renovation and new building design is the effective utilisation of insulation to minimise heating requirements. Whilst in the UK we historically tended to think of insulation in terms of carpeting lofts with fibre or pumping old newspapers into wall cavities, things have moved on.

In this series of articles, mbc will bring you an overview of the current technology and options that are available.

We’ll use four broad classifications for insulation materials:

Insulation manufactured from natural sustainable materials.
The most sustainable and therefore greenest category of insulators. Includes Sheep’s wool, Cork, Hemp and Straw-board.

Insulation manufactured from waste materials.
Closely on the heels of the sustainable materials come Wood fibreboard, Cellulose fibre and Foamed glass.

Insulation manufactured from natural materials.
These have been with us for sometime and use plentiful but finite resources and have production processes that lead to products with high embodied energy. Glass fibre & Mineral wool insulations fall within this category.

Insulation manufactured from petrochemicals.
Expanded and Extruded Polystyrene, Phenolic foam, Polyurethane and Polyisocyanurate. Being derived from oil and with production processes that lead to products with high embodied energy these are the least green category of insulators.

[Update: bear in mind that these types of insulation can be very efficient and therefore repay the embodied energy more quickly than a less well specified, less efficient, seemingly greener alternative.]

As articles on each type of insulation are added links will open up from the article – keep checking back!






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