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insulation

Insulation is a crucial ingredient in achieving thermal comfort all year round. It is not only to protect us from winter cold but also from the summer heat.

In a new development like ecokit an accurate amount of the appropriate insulation in the perfect place is vital. But what is the insulation made from? Where does it come from? Are some choices healthier than others?

What we were considering

Sheep wool, Rockwool, Glass wool or recycled polyester batts – our choices have been limited by considering only healthy (no added formaldehyde or VOC) and sustainable (no petrochemical products) materials.

The process

We have chosen to use Glass wool products as they are from recycled glass rather than recycled plastic (petrochemical) such as polyester batts and the manufacture is cleaner and produces less carbon than the manufacture of mineral wool. Unfortunately sheep wool is too hard to source in Australia. It also needs to be chemically treated against pests and mould.

Glass is resourced and processed in Australia, so manufacturing miles are less than Polyester which is Post Consumer Waste collected world wide, sorted and primarily processed in Asia and China and imported for manufacturing in Australia.

There are different products of glass wool currently available on the australian market: Pink Batts, Bradford Gold & Earthwool by Knauf. According to the Pink Batt (glass wool) MSDS (material safety data list) the product has 2 – 16% heat cured phenol- formaldehyde resin. Similar for Bradford Gold, they claim the product contains <15% of formaldehyde. This is not good enough for us – we were looking for a formaldehyde free solution. This left us with Earthwool by Knauf.

Earthwool Wall batts are made using recycled glass and with ECOSE® Technology, a revolutionary binder based on rapidly renewable materials instead of petrochemical-based resins. ECOSE Technology reduces binder embodied energy and contains no added phenol, formaldehyde, acrylics or artificial colours. Earthwool is made using up to 80% recycled content glass and is 100% recyclable.

Our Final Choices

Earthwool batts, foil sarking, permeable house wrap. Building to be generally air tight.

To achieve the super insulation performance the building will require double layer of R2.5 bulk insulation. The two layers of R2.5 glass wool introduce an air layer in between the insulation, further improving the insulation properties. We have also added anti glare foil to the external cladding.

Ecokit house has been designed with a sustainability as one of the main focuses. The superior environmental characteristics of Earthwool with ECOSE Technology contributes to improving the overall sustainability of ecokit. And by eliminating phenol and formaldehyde from manufacturing process, the installation is safer and pollutant manufacturing emissions are significantly reduced.

Have you used Earthwool before and would you like to share your feedback with us? Or do you know about another suitable insulation we haven’t considered? Let’s talk…

5 Comments

Leonore

February 14, 2016 at 9:33 PM - Reply

Hi there, Did you consider Hemp Fibres as insulation?

Camilla

February 18, 2016 at 8:38 PM - Reply

Hi Leonore,

actually, no we didn’t. Do you know where I can source Hemp Fibres in Australia? Could you please point me to a more information?

Thanks, Camilla

Jenny Stirling

June 29, 2016 at 4:52 PM - Reply

I have used earthwool before and it was excellent. I was renovating an old miners cottage built completely of silky oak timber (in Queensland). We took down the ply ceiling and pushed up the earthwool into a small cavity before reattaching a gyprock ceiling onto the sloping steel roof. You could feel the difference straight away even though that room had low ceilings. The earthwool made it easy and was very light.

Camilla

June 30, 2016 at 7:29 PM - Reply

Hi Jenny,
thank you for your feedback. We were looking for a product that was light and non-toxic while having a good insulating properties and glasswool seemed like one the best options. Glad you also had a good experience with it. Thanks for sharing.

Kim Beazley

January 12, 2018 at 10:14 AM - Reply

Why have you not mentioned the most eco-friendly material of all, that being Cellulose Fibre? As it is 100% organic it is far superior to all of the batts, & far less energy is wasted in its production. Also, as it is pumped in it negates completely the problem of gaps, which are crucial, as can be seen on the Federal Government’s own website at http://www.yourhome.gov.au/passive-design/insulation-installation where it states, “Avoid gaps in all types of insulation. Even a small gap can greatly reduce the insulating value.”

This reduction in insulating value is approximately 50% if only 5% of the ceiling is left uncovered, which is actually almost impossible to improve on, particularly in a do-it-yourself scenario.

In my experience, at the extremes of Summer this can make a difference of up to 8 degrees difference inside the home.

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