Thursday, April 9

Nicola Thomas of ARCH angels Architects on sustainable insulation

- June 11, 2013

The weather has been so changeable lately and we’ve all been struggling through the coldest spring in 50 years. Maybe you’re worried about the impact this is having on your energy bills. In order to save money and feel more comfortable, you might start thinking about whether your home is adequately insulated.

Why insulate?
Most of us are aware that we need to reduce our energy consumption from fossil fuels to protect our climate and conserve our resources. Our homes produce 27% of the UK’s CO2 emissions. New homes are being designed and built to achieve high fabric efficiency but only 1% of the UK’s housing stock is being replaced every year by new homes. Most of us live in older homes with little or no insulation. Insulating the walls, floor and roof of your home can result in your home being warmer in winter and cooler in summer, better internal air quality and lower running costs. What’s not to like?!

What types of sustainable insulation products are available?
When it comes to choosing insulation, it is important to consider whether it is suitable for your property type. For instance, external insulation is better for a solid walled house, however, if external features need to be preserved, then internal insulation could be considered. With external insulation, the insulation material is fixed then covered with render (plaster) or cladding. Internal insulation can be installed using rigid insulation boards or a by building a separate lining inside the wall. In some cases, a combination of the two might be appropriate.
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You will find a wide range of products on the market – some derived from plant and animal sources, others from minerals and oils. Consider the life long saving of energy and CO2 emissions that the product will achieve as well as breathability and compressive strength. It’s a case of weighing up performance with sustainability and of course, ease of installation and costs.

For example, cork is highly sustainable and also performs well with good resistance to moisture and compression. Sheep’s wool is a natural product that adapts well to changes in humidity and temperature and therefore works well in existing buildings without the need to ventilate. Foam spray products such as Icynene may not be easily recycled but have high compressive strength, thermal performance and moisture resistance.

The occupants of this Victorian mid-terraced property in Hanover wanted to make their home more comfortable, while reducing energy consumption and water heating by at least 60%.

As well as adding various energy efficient features, external and internal wall insulation was installed using a rigid foam product, along with between floor insulation and a loft extension insulated with sheep’s wool, high spec double-glazing and close-fitting doors.

The result was year-round comfort, reduced energy usage, CO2 emissions and low energy costs with 50% savings on gas bills. Number 4 Whichelo Place is taking part in Brighton & Hove’s Eco Open Houses in June. Visit
If you want to find out how to implement sustainable insulation and other green elements into your home, get in touch with us. Or come along to the Eco Technology Show at The Brighton Centre (14–15 June) and visit us at stand A43.

Richard Zinzan and Nicola Thomas are founders of ARCH-angels Architects in Brighton, an approachable local practice specialising in environmentally conscious and cost effective architecture. We work closely with you to maximise your space and provide beautiful integrated buildings.

t 01273 267184

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