Systems that protect the building against temperature fluctuations in the environment, reducing unwanted cold or heat.
Made of renewable biomaterials that are more energy efficient, healthier, and more durable than traditional thermal insulation. They can be applied as foams, sprayfoams, polymers, or biofibers, and are safe for the environment. Bio-based insulations are lightweight, contain no volatile organic compounds, provide a minimum R-value of 3.5 per inch, have excellent thermal and acoustical property, and meet U.S. government requirements for renewable resources. They have a Class 1 fire rating, have low levels of free-floating dust and allergens, and are not affected by moisture, mold, or insects.
Made of glass fibers combined with reinforcing agents. Fiberglass is the most widely used. Recycled glass insulation is a composite made from glass fibers and a polymer. Glass-based insulation systems are used for roofs, attics, walls, ducts, pipes, as well as other home appliances and equipment. Glass-based insulation products have relatively small deterioration rates and high R-values, ranging from R-11 to R-38. They can be blown into any void to any desired R-value. Since the base material is made of sand and recycled glass, it is naturally noncombustible, requiring no additional chemical treatment. Moreover, glass-based insulations are not absorbent and retain their R-value, even after they are exposed to moisture.
green insulation systems
Adaptations of traditional systems, offering enhanced performance with the added benefit of being a sustainable and ecological solution to energy retention problems. The primary green insulation systems are bio-based insulation, rigid panel insulation, glass-based insulation, wood-cement forms, natural fiber insulation, and radiant barriers.
insulating wood-cement forms
Systems that can be cast in place or installed as pre-assembled pieces that lock together to create structurally solid insulated forms. Made from a variety of different materials, such as cement-bonded wood fiber, polystyrene beads, and expanded polystyrene. They are highly efficient insulation systems, especially for low-rise residential and commercial constructions, because their structure minimizes air leaks and heat loss. They are also durable, with a high sound absorption rate, a long lifespan, and relatively low maintenance costs.
natural fiber insulation
Made from animal, plant, and mineral resources. They contain no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) or chemical irritants, have excellent thermal and sound blockage, have the ability to absorb moisture, and can breathe and react to climatic changes. Natural fibers are classified based on their origins. Plant sources are extracted from seeds or seed cases, such as hemp, kapok, and cotton fiber. Wood fibers are made directly from wood and are not inherently moisture resistant, and so must be coated with enhancers or other adhesive materials. Cellulose fiber is made from 80 percent recycled postconsumer paper. Typically it is blown or poured into hard-to-reach areas, such as attics and finished wall cavities. Animal sources contain hair extracted from animals, such as sheep, mohair, and alpaca. Mineral sources either occur naturally or are modified from fibers extracted from minerals. Their visual and performance properties closely resemble fiberglass. They are primarily applied as loose-fill and batting in hard-to-reach areas, or as rigid boards in roofs and attics. Since they are highly fire-resistant, they are also often used for furnace and chimney insulation.
Composite material insulation systems made of highly reflective materials or coatings that stabilize a structure’s thermal balance by reducing its heat gain and/or heat loss. Unlike conventional insulation systems that trap heat within the material, radiant barriers reflect heat before it enters the building. Often applied in attics or underneath the roofing layers in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.
rigid panel insulation
Mostly used as roof and wall coverings, which contribute to the building’s overall structural strength. Rigid foam panels can be made fireproof when shielded with additional fire-resistant materials. The panels can be made from various types of base materials, including cellular glass, wood fiber, gypsum board, and composites.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved