Environmentally-friendly materials: the right and affordable choice
exploring natural insulators
The very best of the best! This product is derived from recycled, undistributed newspapers and has an outstanding environmental record, a very low grey energy and good functioning and acoustic performance. Whether it is blown-in cellulose or spray polyurethane foam, cellulose is easily available, has no impact on air quality and health, requires no seal and can be installed by a professional in every part of the house, except the basement (because cellulose is susceptible to humidity).
- Insulating factor: R 3.6 per inch
- Price: $0.75 per square foot ($8.00 per square meter)
WOOD FIBER INSULATION
A green product, 100 % from Quebec and derived from wood chips from local sawmills. As with cellulose, its impact on health is zero, has a very low grey energy, offers a good compressive strength and has an excellent thermal and acoustic performance. You can find it in bulk on the market in the form of panelling, wood foam and wood fiber. Wood insulation is in its infancy but has a bright future ahead of it.
- Insulating factor: R 2.7 per inch
- Price: $0.90 per square foot ($10.00 per square meter)
Straw insulation is not to be confused with hay. Straw is a dry stem coming from grain plants, such as oats, wheat, or rye. It is a natural material, abundantly available and largely unprocessed. Its quality has been proven since time immemorial; it has an excellent fire-resistant performance. It is very efficient, non-toxic and generates very little waste.
- Insulating factor: R2 per inch
- Price: $18.00* per square foot ($108.00 per square meter)
*N.B. A home insulated with straw is not designed in the same way as that of a conventional home. The price includes the prefabricated panel structure.
A renewable resource that is grown naturally without pesticides. It requires little or no fertilizer. In Quebec, hemp wool, sold in mats and hemp concrete (known as “hempcrete”), which is a mixture of lime, plaster, and hemp are readily available on the market. Hemp insulation has no harmful effect on health. It is a good acoustic insulator, naturally regulates humidity and ensures comfortable living, in summer and winter. Note: The raw material generally comes from Europe.
- Insulating factor: R 3.7 per inch
- Price: $1.99 per square inch for a mattress of 5.5 inches (14cm) thick ($21.00 per square meter)
OTHER NATURAL INSULATORS: FLAX, COTTON, CORK, SHEEP WOOL
Just as with wood fiber and cob (a mixture of clay, sand, straw and water), all these natural insulators offer high insulating qualities, have no effect on indoor air quality and have an excellent environmental record. Although not widely used as insulators, they do, however, present interesting avenues to pursue in Quebec in the future.