‘Green’ ceiling insulation

Cellulose insulation reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and saves energy during the manufacturing process. Charles Smith had a look.

With the increasing cost of energy, South Africans are becoming aware of the importance of insulating their buildings.  
Thermguard, the original cellulose insulation, has been available in South Africa for 26 years. Using cellulose processed from shredded recycled newspaper for ceiling insulation can prevent up to up to 89% of the heat generated in the home from escaping through the roof, with a significant impact on the environment. Treating this insulation with household chemicals that are about as toxic as table salt makes it fire retardant, and insect and rodent resistant.

Thermguard MD Mark Stannard says research by the Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association (CIMA) shows that cellulose fibre from recycled newsprint has the lowest estimated “embodied energy” – the energy needed to produce and transport it of any insulation product. Fibreglass has 10 times as much, and foam products up to 64 times as much embodied energy (for more information, visit www.cellulose.org).

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“Cellulose also has the largest recycled content, up to 72%,” he says. “It uses less energy than other manufacturing processes for insulation products for both heat and sound. He says that while any insulation is better than none, newspaper-derived cellulose is a greener choice, and reduces the large volumes of newspaper ending up in landfills.

“Cellulose insulation also prevents the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, released when newspaper decomposes in landfills,” Mark explains. As insulation, it reduces the need for energy for heating, in turn reducing fossil fuel burnt in power stations and carbon dioxide production.

“We feel that newsprint-based cellulose hasn’t been fully explained to consumers, contractors and architects, and we aim to correct that,” says Mark. “The key to manufacturing it is to accurately and consistently add the necessary chemicals. Smaller manufacturers who copy the product may not be able to achieve this. If the insulation contains the incorrect mix of chemicals it could lead to devastating roof fires, as has happened in the UK.”Six large Thermguard clients, including Northam Mine, Karee Mine, SA Air Force Gymnasium and Eskom, together have a total of 126 225m² under this insulation.

Contact Mark Stannard from Thermguard on 033 346 0111 or at [email protected]