Green Building Insulation: Concept and Types

Green Building Insulation

The concept and practice of green building refer to the structure and application of processes that are eco-friendly and resource efficient throughout the lifetime of a building; including the planning, designing, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition(Griefman 39).

The practice of green building has gained popularity in the recent past; the justification for this is that green building techniques have proved to be a reliable, cost-effective and responsible means of building houses. More so, the world is dying at an alarming rate. Most natural resources have been depleted due to man’s overreliance on fossil fuel and the increase in human population.

Building Insulation

The term insulation refers to an energy savings measure designed to provide resistance to heat flow. Nature dictates that heat flows from warmer to cooler spaces, insulation or insulating a house translates to reducing the heat loss in buildings during cold weather or climate. The main purpose of insulating a house is to reduce the loss of heat in cold weather or climate, and reduce the heat surplus in warm weather. In essence, an insulated house limits the need to have heating or cooling in the house.

Green Insulation

Based on the foregoing, it is safe to conclude that building insulation is eco-friendly because it focuses on saving energy. However, what determines the “green” nature of any insulation is dependent on the opinion of an individual. These opinions are two-fold, some people deem insulation to be green when it contains a high percentage of recycled materials while others feel that insulation is green when it does not contain harmful substances(Kamal,45).

However, the industry’s accepted standard of green insulation is dependent on its R-value. The R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow ranging from R-1 to R-60, home insulation should aim to achieve a minimum of R-30.

Types of green insulation


Fiberglass is the most common insulation in the United States. Fiberglass is quite effective as an insulation tool because it takes the shape of batts and blankets, and has enjoyed a monopoly in residential insulation(Kamal, 55). However, the effectiveness of fiberglass in offering insulation is underscored by the fact that it is a health hazard.

The hazardous nature of fiberglass is because its structure is similar to that of asbestos; composed of tiny fibers, users of fiberglass risk this tiny particle breaking off and lodging on their skin, eyes, and lungs, leading to abrasions that cause irritation.


In terms of insulation, cellulose refers to bits of shredded newspaper that are sprayed into space for insulation. Newspapers are readily available, hence offer a cheaper, effective alternative to fiberglass.  The shortcomings of this type of insulation include; newspapers being highly flammable, prone to pest infestation and waterlogging leading to moulding.

Recycled Denim Insulation

This is an organic insulation made from recycled jeans. Denim insulation is 100% recycled, and is an effective insulator because it is made from cotton( Schifman 39). Denim insulation is a healthier alternative because there is no chance of emission of any chemicals in the house. In addition, the installation of recycled denim insulation is quite simple and does not require any particular expertise or special equipment or wearing protective gear.

Sheep wool insulation

Sheep wool has been used for centuries as a source of heat because sheep wool has excellent insulation qualities. Using sheep wool as an insulator is not only eco-friendly but also effective. Compressed wool fibers form millions of tiny air pockets, which trap air and keeps homes warm in winter and cool in summer. Additionally, wool is resistant to water. Hence there is no risk of dampness because the wool generates heat which prevents condensation.


Aerogel is one of the most effective home insulators; it has an R-value of 10.3 per inch of thickness. Aerogel is made by removing liquid from silica under high pressure and temperature. The result of this extraction process is aerogel in a molecular form which makes it difficult for heat to escape.


Icynene is one o the most effective home insulators because it seals the house completely and thoroughly. Icynene is made from castor oil, and is sprayed on the wall in the form of a thick paint which then forms a puffy sponge once it hits the wall. Icynene not only offers good insulation but also seals air leaks and muffles noise.