7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home

January 4, 2019 by  
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Insulation is an important part of any home. Not only does it retain heat during the winter by restricting air flow, but it also reduces the cost of heating and cooling throughout the year. For more than a century, most new homes were built with fiberglass insulation, but this can cause many health issues. If you are building a new house or remodeling in the near future, try one of these green home insulation alternatives to make your home safe and healthy. Sheep’s wool Not only is sheep’s wool fire retardant, but the material can keep your home warm the same way it helps sheep survive frigid temperatures. In recent years, scientists have figured out how to apply the insulating properties of sheep’s wool to home construction. The compressed wool fibers form millions of tiny air pockets, and the outer layer is resistant to water while the inner layer absorbs moisture. This helps it generate heat while preventing condensation, and it keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. When you use sheep’s wool, you won’t have to adjust your heating and cooling system often, and that will save you energy and money. Cotton/denim Because cotton is a natural and renewable resource, it is one of the most eco-friendly insulation options on the market. Leftover blue jean scraps are shredded and recycled into thick batts that fit into your walls just like fiberglass. To make it safe for humans as well as the environment, companies treat the cotton with a borate solution, so the insulation isn’t flammable. Cotton is also a natural insect repellent, doesn’t contain formaldehyde and doesn’t cause respiratory problems. However, compared to fiberglass, it is incredibly expensive, costing nearly twice as much. Icynene One of the strongest home insulation alternatives, Icynene is a spray foam made out of castor oil that expands about 100 times its volume when you spray it into a wall or ceiling. Not only does it seal leaks and drafts, but it also cancels noise. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home During the foaming process, Icynene traps in tiny air bubbles, and when the foam cures, the air remains in place. This is why the insulation works so well. However, the sealing powers of Icynene are so strong, you have to install a ventilation system. Because of the additional requirements, the upfront costs to install Icynene are expensive. However, it will reduce your energy bill so drastically, in the long run, you will save money. Polystyrene At first glance, this might not sound like a green option, but polystyrene is considered to be green because it helps you save an enormous amount of energy. Polystyrene is a plastic that comes in two forms: rigid foam boards that will add structural integrity to your walls and a spray foam. Aerogel This man-made material is 90 percent air, but it is difficult for heat to pass through it, making it excellent for insulation. The legend has it that Samuel Stephens Kistler invented aerogel in 1931 after making a bet with a friend. Kesler bet that he could replace the liquid in a jelly jar without causing the jelly to shrink, and he won by removing the liquid and replacing it with air. This led to aerogel, which is made by removing the liquid from silica under high pressure and temperature. Aerogel is ultra lightweight and comes in sheets or stickers for easy installation. However, it is pricey, costing up to $2 a foot. ThermaCork This option actually has a negative carbon footprint , because the finished product is made from the outer bark of oak trees. It is natural, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable, plus it cancels noise and is free of toxins. Cellulose If you are looking to minimize the toxins in your house, cellulose is a good choice. Made from recycled newsprint and other paper, it is safe to install. Using this kind of insulation means that the paper in your walls didn’t make its way to a landfill to release harmful greenhouse gases . When it comes to insulation, there is no right or wrong choice. But there are many different options out there with various qualities, good and bad. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each to find the insulation that works best for you and your home. Images via Icynene , Tony Webster , Jon Collier and Shutterstock

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7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home

Amazing new biodegradable insulation only burns after one-hour of fire exposure

February 27, 2018 by  
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100 percent natural insulation from Chilean company Rootman is also resistant to flames, according to ArchDaily . Rootman’s product, Thermoroot, absorbs sound and provides optimal thermal performance — and, according to its designers, the sustainable insulation only starts burning 60 minutes of fire exposure. That’s in contrast to polystyrene , fiberglass, or polyurethane, which will start burning in three seconds, 15 seconds, or one minute, respectively. With the goal of insulating buildings more efficiently, Rootman created Thermoroot, which they say is biodegradable , comprised of 100 percent natural fiber, and won’t harm the environment . They basically grow what they call a Radicular Mattress; in isolated chambers, they hydroponically cultivate oat or barley grain seeds in trays that, according to ArchDaily, “define the required thickness of the roots ” to create the mattress. The process takes between 10 and 15 days, and Rootman doesn’t employ chemical additives or draw on genetic modifications. Related: Hemp-based insulation makes a comeback in Belgium The germination process can happen in any geographical location or climate, according to ArchDaily. It boasts a low water and carbon footprint, doesn’t pollute, and trees don’t need to be cut down for the process. And in case of a fire, the green insulation offers a one-hour window before it burns. Thermoroot can entirely replace conventional insulators like Mineral Wool, Expanded Polystyrene, or Polyurethane, according to ArchDaily, thermally and acoustically insulating floors, ceilings, or walls. The publication said Rootman is working to offer an effective alternative for expensive natural insulators and synthetic insulators that are harmful for health and the environment. If you’d like more information, Rootman includes links to a technical information PDF, certification of sound absorption, a thermal conductivity certification, and a firefighters’ technical report on their website; you can find those here . The company also says their technology could serve as “a soil improver for the garden and agriculture .” + Rootman Via ArchDaily Images via Rootman SpA/ArchDaily

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Amazing new biodegradable insulation only burns after one-hour of fire exposure

Gorgeous roof garden feeds owners in proposed off-grid Yin & Yang House

February 27, 2018 by  
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Architecture studio Penda unveiled designs for an off-grid home Kassel, Germany with a stunning rooftop garden . Commissioned by a young family who wants to produce most of their own food, the Yin & Yang house features a minimal timber structure with a terraced roof curved in a shape evocative of the yin yang symbol. As shown in the startlingly realistic renderings, Yin & Yang House occupies a small corner lot. With very little ground space for a garden, Penda turned the roof into two terraced garden spaces to meet the client’s desires for a space to grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Rainwater will be collected on the roof and used for irrigation. Related: Trees to grow on the balconies of Penda’s timber high-rise in Toronto The eye-catching and seasonally changing roof is balanced by the building’s minimalist and boxy timber form. The two-story home features a garage, office space, kids’ bedroom, bathroom, master bedroom, and the kitchen and dining area on the ground floor, while the second floor includes additional sitting areas and a secondary workspace accessible by two separate staircases. Large windows let in natural light and views of the outdoors, with beautiful views of the terraced roof garden from the second floor spaces. + Penda Via Dezeen

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Gorgeous roof garden feeds owners in proposed off-grid Yin & Yang House

Breezy solar-powered sponge house is in tune with nature

February 27, 2018 by  
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Nature is celebrated at every turn in The Country House, an environmentally conscious home that embraces indoor-outdoor living in Bien Hoa, Vietnam. Completed by 1+1> 2 Architects , the house immediately stands out from its neighbors with its sloped thatch roofs, a nod to Vietnam’s countryside vernacular and a natural cooling mechanism. Built mainly of natural materials , the home also wraps around a lushly landscaped courtyard and boasts a variety of energy-efficient systems from solar cells to rainwater collection. Hidden behind tall white walls and ringed by trees, the 440-square-meter Country House is a private oasis. The home is curved to wrap around a garden with a water feature. The architects placed the corridor on side of the home closest to the garden and left parts of it open to the sun and wind, blurring the line between indoor and outdoor living. “The whole building structure considers human measurements,” wrote the architects, who describe it as a “sponge structure”. “Based on traditional experiences, the interaction between the inside and the outside within spacious architecture plays an important role. The lamellar solar protection made out of wood and appears along the corridor, with the roof, it creates a curved surface. Besides, the natural grey color of the thatch roof melts together with the garden.” Related: Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower In addition to welcoming the outdoors in, the home also uses adobe for wall insulation and relies on solar rooftop panels for electricity. A 370-square-meter water tank collects rainwater reused for irrigation. + 1+1> 2 Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Son Vu

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Breezy solar-powered sponge house is in tune with nature

Scientists discover how to turn mountains of paper waste into biodegradable aerogel

February 9, 2016 by  
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A research team at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has successfully transformed paper waste into aerogel , a lightweight material used in insulation. Aerogels are typically made from silica, metal oxides, and polymers, but a paper-based formula is a great deal more eco-friendly and cost-effective. Recycling paper into a highly sought after substance like aerogels could prove to be a useful method for reducing landfill waste, while replacing hazardous chemicals often used in aerogel manufacturing. Read the rest of Scientists discover how to turn mountains of paper waste into biodegradable aerogel

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Scientists discover how to turn mountains of paper waste into biodegradable aerogel

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