A View on Thermal and Acoustic Insulation Manufactured With Recycled Paper
Driven primarily by compliance with the LEED rating system, the development of sustainable construction in Québec is concurrent with an ever-increasing interest in the added value of residual materials. The introduction of materials from selective collection in the production and consumption cycle is in line with this trend.
This is especially true when it comes to insulation materials like cellulose wadding. Made with more than 80% recycled paper, cellulose fiber not only helps the preservation of natural resources by giving a second life to residual materials from selective collection, it also contributes to the energy and acoustic efficiency of the building.
Cellulose fiber insulation is made primarily from recycled newspapers, but also from post-industrial paper. In Québec, two manufacturers occupy the market: Benolec, a company that has been acquired by the SOPREMA Group, and Igloo Cellulose. About 95% of their combined market is for residential buildings where cellulose fiber is used in bulk, either blown in attics or pressure-blown in walls and ceilings.
The manufacture of cellulose wadding is carried out in five steps:
- Material shredding
- Magnetic separation (to remove any staples, for example)
- Dust extraction
- Addition of minerals such as borate
This last step makes the cellulose flame resistant and prevents corrosion and proliferation of mold and insect pests as prescribed in the CAN/ULC standards (LC-S703 standard for cellulose fiber insulation).
“Cellulose fiber insulation is still not used much in large buildings in Québec, mainly because small and large contractors are sourcing from different distribution networks. Ultimately, it’s a matter of habit,” says André Bourassa, founder of the Bourassa Maillé architectural firm.
In the eyes of Bourassa, a supporter of green materials, this insulation product would be very effective in the condominium building sector, not only for insulation but also for soundproofing between floors.
He also highlights that this insulating material is easy to use in existing buildings because it can be installed without tearing down every structure in place. “Not to mention that at the end of the service life of a building, the insulation is easily reusable simply by sucking it out from the old structure. Furthermore, as it is non-toxic and does not adhere to other components, it facilitates dismantling and allows the reuse of construction waste for other purposes,” concluded André Bourassa, stressing that cellulose wadding is widely used in France and Japan.
- Reduction of the use of natural resources
- Hygrothermal regulation
- Thermal phase shift
- Elimination of thermal bridges
- Resistance to fire, corrosion, and mold
- High thermal resistance (R-value between 3.7 and 3.8 per inch)