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20th Aug 2022

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

Thermal insulation: a strong case for cellulose

Climate zones – TIPSASA Zones 1-6.

The introduction of SANS 10400-XA regulations relating to the energy usage in buildings, as part of the wider code of practice, gives substance to South Africa’s National Building Regulations as far as energy efficiency within a building is concerned.

The SANS10400-XA standards require various thermal resistance values (R-Values) to be achieved inside the roof of a building and these depend on the climatic zone where the building is located.

The effect of this standard has been far-reaching, even with the developer of low-cost housing and a homeowner or contractor renovating an existing building having to comply.

Cellulose insulation, typified by well-known brands Thermguard and Eco-Insulation, both industry-leading brands, represents a very quick and efficient way of getting a roof’s R-Value up to the national standard. These brands are installed by established and approved subcontractors, who enjoy distributor rights from the manufacturer in both the new build and retrofit situations.

Professionally manufactured cellulose fibre thermal and acoustic insulation is fire retardant and is SABS and industry-association certified as causing ‘no spread of fire’ while its manufacture is ISO 9001 certified.

Retrofitting typically occurs where a homeowner (or office property owner) becomes concerned about a rising energy bill, or a complete loss of energy caused by power blackouts (load shedding) meaning no climate control indoors; or by the ongoing discomfort of the occupants of a building caused by temperature extremes, summer or winter. Discomfort inside a building causes a loss in worker productivity, sick building syndrome or unhealthy living conditions if at home.

A retrofit of cellulose fibre insulation offers a viable solution to the problem, if blown (pneumatically pumped) into the roof on top of the ceiling in compliance with standards laid down by SANS 10400-XA.
Meanwhile, cellulose fibre insulation is proving to be increasingly popular with property developers who are in the housing complex or housing estate business. The product offers a neat way of complying with the R-Value requirements that are mandatory in all new property developments or refurbishments, nationwide.

The environment

Cellulose roof insulation is made from recycled newspaper waste, milled to consistent density and treated with inorganic nontoxic fire-retardant salts. Hence, recycled paper, which would otherwise have gone to landfill, is used and upcycled into a new role – one that lasts the lifetime of the building as insulation. Significantly, the material is ‘Made in South Africa’ in all senses of the word and not an import, thereby boosting the local economy.

The recycling of existing and waste materials into new usable products is an important way of reducing the embodied energy (and carbon) of a building material, by allowing it a close-to-zero ‘recycled content’ embodied energy entry point to its new life as an upcycled building material.

For example, the use of cellulose insulation in a building carries with it a very low embodied energy content, created only by a low-energy method of manufacture in the factory.

Human safety

Cellulose insulation emits no VOCs, such as formaldehyde, in stark contrast with many known building and insulation products used in the roof, in the walls or under the floor. No colourants, dyes, binders or adhesives are used in manufacturer or installation.

Ease of application and convenience

An application of Thermguard or Eco-Insulation is simple, fast and on-specification. A typical house can be insulated in three hours, depending on the size of the ceiling.

Syndicated content from Leading Architecture & Design


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