Eco-friendly insulation

Your options for greener insulation materials


Eco-friendly insulation

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A well-insulated cottage keeps cooler under the beating sun, as well as staving off winter’s cold. And since you’ll be using less energy for cooling and heating, insulation is key to going green. What’s more, new sustainable offerings employ recycled waste materials, taking a load off landfills, and natural, non-toxic ingredients, making DIY installation safer.

Recycled content

Fibreglass has been an insulation-industry staple for years. But where the old stuff included formaldehyde as a binder, greener alternatives use acrylic and are often made with recycled glass. Mineral-wool insulators (bottom) also use a waste by-product, the slag produced in steel smelting. And some new spray foams incorporate recycled plastics. Even old jeans and newspapers get a second life: Cotton (middle), including denim, can be woven into a three-dimensional web that traps heat and sound, while recycled newsprint becomes cellulose insulation that’s blown into wall cavities.

Renewable ingredients

Natural fibres such as wool and hemp require no protective clothing for safe installation. Wool insulation (top), in ropes for log cabins or batts for framed cottages, does double duty by absorbing some indoor air pollutants. Hemp fibre, available in batts of different thickness, is durable, non-toxic, and itch free. And soybean oil, a renewable alternative to petroleum, is a main ingredient in some polyurethane foams.

For general information about insulation:

TreeHugger: (search for “green insulation”)
North American Insulation Manufacturers Association: (look for sustainable insulation)

For product information:

Ottawa Fibre: glass)
Johns Manville: free)
Monoglass: (post-consumer and recycled glass)

Mineral wool
Rockwool: from molten slag)
Roxul: (Milton-based manufacturer of Rockwool)
American Sprayed Fibers: (post-industrial mineral wool)
ThermaFiber: (slag)

Spray foams
BioBased: (soybean oil)
Heatlok Soya: (recycled plastics and soybean oil)

Excel Fibre: (recycled newsprint)
Thermo-Cell: (recycled paper fibres)
U.S. GreenFiber: (recycled paper)

Natural fibres
HempFlax: (made from hemp fibres)
Good Shepherd:’s wool, in ropes or batts)
InsulTechnologies: (recycled denim)
Bonded Logic: (recycled cotton and denim in its UltraTouch)

This article was originally published on April 27, 2008

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