Winter is coming to New Zealand. Our house is old and very poorly insulated, and I have wanted to make it more energy-efficient since we moved here a year ago. So for week 16’s action I decided to learn a bit more about insulation, including the positive and negative environmental impacts.
What I learned
Among others, I read the article ‘Insulating Materials: Environmental Comparisons’ : http://www.civil.uwaterloo.ca/beg/ArchTech/EBN_insulation_1995.pdf. I found it offered a good comparison for different insulating materials.
I learned many things, including that certain insulating materials contribute to ozone-depletion (as they contains CFC’s) and that most kinds of insulating materials contain recycled materials (this percentage can vary from 5% to 100%). In terms of embodied energy, cellulose insulation and then wool insulation are the lowest, but both of these have low insulating power per metre, compared with some of the less sustainably sourced materials.
We installed insulation in our house: the underfloor insulation is wool, and the roof insulation is wool mixed with plastic from recycled bottles. It was placed thickly enough so that it is suitably insulating, and we already feel the difference. It was more expensive than some of the other alternatives, but I am happy that is is an environmentally-considerate product.
I also added the company that installed it to the mailing list of the Sustainable Business Network, so that when there are events they can come and network and promote their work and sustainable products to others.