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What R-Value
R-Value =
temp diff X area X time

heat loss
Really Means

Table of Environmental Facts For Most Popular Insulation Types

The table below is a summary of information taken from the January 1, 2005 Environmental Building News and highlights some of the key environmental impacts of selected insulation types.

Please note that there is no “generic” R-value for the different type of insulations. Each manufacturer has different R-values so check the label on the packaging for specific recommendations. We have included a range to provide the relative of comparison of the various insulation R-values.

Type
Installation Methods
R-value per inch (RSI/m)
Raw Materials
Pollution From Manufacture
Indoor Air Quality Impacts
Comments
Cellulose Loose-fill, wall-spray (damp), dense pack, stabilized 3.6-4.0
(21-26)
Old Newspapers, telephone directories, borates, ammonium sulfate Negligible Fibers and chemicals can be irritants High recycled content and very low embodied energy
Fiberglass Batts, Loose-fill, semi-rigid board 3.0-4.0
(15-28)
Silica sand, limestone, boron, recycled glass, PF resin or acrylic resin Formaldehyde emissions and high energy use during manufacture Fibers can be irritants High embodied energy
Mineral Wool Loose-fill, batts, semi-rigid or rigid board 2.8-3.7
(19-26)
Iron ore blast furnace slag, natural rock, PF binder Formaldehyde emissions and high energy use during manufacture Fibers can be irritants High embodied energy; Rigid board can be an excellent foundation drainage and insulator
Cotton Batts 3.0-3.7
(21-26)
Cotton and polyester mill scraps (especially denim) Negligible Considered safe Two producers, so transportation pollution is higher than other insulation
Closed-cell spray polyurethane foams Spray-in cavity-fill or spray-on roofing 5.8-6.8
(40-47)
Fossil fuels; HFC-24.5fa blowing agent; non-brominated flame retardant High energy use during manufacture; global warming potential from HFC blowing agent Quite toxic during installation (respirators or supplied air required); allow several days of airing out prior to occupancy Very High embodied Energy
Open-celled, low-density polyurethane foam (Soy) Spray-in cavity-fill 3.6-3.8
(25-27)
Fossil fuels and soybeans; water as blowing agent; non-brominated flame retardant High energy use during manufacture Quite toxic during installation (respirators or supplied air required); allow several days of airing out prior to occupancy Very High embodied energy

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