Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Greener garden office insulation + EcoBuild Show

Mark Ramuz from Garden2office writes in response to the piece on greener SIPS last week on Shedworking:
"I thought I should send you a picture of the panels we use in our garden buildings. Sweden wants to be the world's first oil-free economy within the next 15 years and that means the oil-based expanded foam type insulation found in SIPS and many other garden buildings just isn't an option. Instead, we use a thick 120mm or 145mm layer of glass wool insulation, composed of anything up to 80% recycled material. This type of insulation is also an ideal way of soundproofing a city garden office as well as keeping it warm."
Mark will also have a stand at the EcoBuild Show, Earls Court, 3-5 March 2009 and suggests this could be a good time to meet up with other shedworkers and suppliers. As he points out: "Even if readers already have a shed, there are loads of credit-crunching ideas for powering, lighting and insulating their home office. It could be a good place to meet other shedworkers and do some networking plus the chance of a strong coffee and Swedish biscuits on our stand." You can apply for an invitation directly from Garden2office's site.


  1. Hi Alex,
    The statement about using glass fibre rather than polyurethane to enable Sweden to become the first carbon free country needs to be looked at very carefully.

    The factor that we are looking at is the ‘embodied energy’ in the insulation material.

    Polyester insulation has an embodied energy of 53.7MJ/kg.
    Glass fibre insulation has an embodied energy of 32.1MJ/kg.

    So yes, it does have less embodied energy. However both require significant petrochemicals in their manufacture.

    Paper fill insulation by comparison has an embodied energy of 3.3MJ/kg

    If Sweden thinks that it is going oil free by using glass fibre rather than polyurethane insulation it is deluding itself.

    Natural materials such as the paper fill, sheepswool, flax and hemp have much lower embodied energy.


    Secrets of shed building.com

    Ref: http://www.level.org.nz/fileadmin/downloads/Materials/LevelMInsul.pdf

  2. I never thought I would write a blog comment saying "I like the look of that insulation"

  3. Anonymous12:53 PM

    Reading the description of how glass fibre is made in Wikipedia I see no mention of petrochemicals, there's a need for lots of energy to heat the silica and some specialist metals such as rhodium and platinum. I presume Sweden is going generate that energy by other techniques. Expanded foam is not recyclable where as glass wool is which over time would be quite significant. So I'd conclude that the glass fibre is much better than the expanded foam.

    Oil free is not necessarily carbon free and this aim is perhaps driven more by economics than green motivations. But I believe that glass fibre insulation would help them achieve that objective.

    The natural materials should also be recycled as well so they are as good as glass in that respect. However would I be correct in thinking that sheepswool is significantly heavier than glass fibre for the same thermal properties meaning that you would need to factor in transportation. Cleaning the paper and wool also needs to be considered and you would want to do that with non-oil based chemicals/techniques.

    On a separate thought, I was in the workshop last night and the temperature was just 0.5degC. I moved some large blocks of wood on the bench and they were noticablly cold. Looking at the above design, I'm wondering if there is an issue with heat lost through those support beams around the edges of the insulation?

  4. Emmat, you can't beat a good bit of insulation (whatever it's green credentials).