Sheep’s Wool: RV Insulation of the Future?

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When Kirkland, Wash.-based teardrop trailer manufacturer Homegrown Trailers wanted to boost the sustainability of its building materials, the RV maker did something innovative – it used sheep’s wool from supplier Havelock Wool to insulate the walls of its trailers.


Previously, Homegrown Trailers was taking a more traditional approach to insulating its trailers.
“We were using rigid-foam insula-tion,” said Corey Weathers, co-founder and CEO of Homegrown Trailers. It wasn’t necessarily bad, he said, but the way the insulation was produced didn’t meet Homegrown’s sustainability philos-ophy. Foam insulation, while it does have anti-moisture and anti-microbial prop-erties, can’t be recycled. It can only be thrown away. “After building two trailers in the prototype phase, I said that I bet we could use wool for the entire trailer.”


And, no, this isn’t a deathtrap for those allergic to lanolin. The wool is safely isolated behind wood panels (just don’t punch a hole through the wall).


Since launching in 2016, Homegrown produces about three to six trailers a month. That number is expected to grow as the RV maker moves into a larger facility near a Google campus in Kirkland, where 100 percent of the build-ing’s energy will be renewable. Paired with this new approach to insulation and other materials, it could be something the RV industry begins to adapt.

Pictured from left to right, Michael Elston, Clem Romero and Corey Weathers with Homegrown Trailers stand next to one of their teardrop trailers, which is insulated with Havelock Wool. Weathers, the company’s co-founder and CEO, sees wool as a good,  “green” alternative using foam, and believes other manufacturers may also come to see the value of using wool as an insulator.

Pictured from left to right, Michael Elston, Clem Romero and Corey Weathers with Homegrown Trailers stand next to one of their teardrop trailers, which is insulated with Havelock Wool. Weathers, the company’s co-founder and CEO, sees wool as a good, 
“green” alternative using foam, and believes other manufacturers may also come to see the value of using wool as an insulator.


“I think the RV industry is really intrigued with where we’re going – the products we’re using,” Weathers told RV PRO in a March eNewsletter exclu-sive. “We kind of built the case that not everything has to be fiberglass- and plas-tic-based materials.”


He added that it’s not something other manufacturers should feel threat-ened by. 
“It’s not like we’re the new guy on the block that they have to outdo,” he said. “We offer a unique product and to a dif-ferent type of customer. Overall, people are very supportive.”
Batt form and loose-fill wool insulation carries unique properties that surpass the quality of run-of-the-mill insulation, some research finds. It can even manage moisture against 65 percent relative humidity while also desorbing and reabsorbing against the ambient air. It’s an important factor when it comes to the looming concern of dry rot. However, while there is moisture, wool is a keratin and will therefore not support mold growth.


Using wool, said Weathers, makes the trailer feel “cozier” – a notion man-ufacturers and consumers can enjoy in equal measure.

A Smart Enclosure Starts with Smart Walls: Green High-Performance Done Right For Our Sustainable Future

Archigram’s A Walking City, 1964: boundless energy & engineering anyone?

For thousands of years buildings were made with a keen regard for nature and historically building science was intimately attuned to natural phenomenon.  Then, the 20th century builders, with giant resources of energy and rapid scientific advancements tried to conquer the vagaries of nature.  Natural solutions were ignored and flaunted – they made up, down, and down, up – if they felt like it.  And any unintended bad consequences would be answered with yet more engineering and power.  It has been brute force all the way down – landing us in a dystopian landscape.   Today our traditional buildings are so chemical and energy dependent, they are a leading cause of our environmental catastrophe. Their resulting pollution has acidified the oceans and warmed the climate to such an extent that we imminently face massive species die-offs.  And we’re poisoning everything – all species, ourselves and our families – in the process.  Soon there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans!

Our poster child of industry run-amok is spray foam insulation. We’ve written about many of the problems in our Foam Fails series.  Spray foam is the cornerstone of building enclosure failure. Fortunately there is growing industry understanding that spray foam is an unreliable, toxic, and expensive approach which is based more on Madison Avenue marketing than common sense. We say: Less is Best.

Then What?

The answer to our predicament today, is not to throw off technology and return to the Primative Hut, but instead, is to synthesize our understanding of natural systems, and selectively use technology that provides great benefits with manageable environmental impacts.

Lloyd Alter, writing in Treehugger, notes that our current obsession with energy efficiency and high-performance, as realized in the Passive House Standard, is not enough.  Yes, efficiency and comfort are critical to our sustainable future, but to ignore other critical factors may likely result in just another techno trap.    Lloyd proposed “The Elrond Standard” – in reference to Elrond Burrell’s formulation that eco-friendly building must, in addition to reaching Passive House performance, also be: made of materials that are non-toxic and of low embodied energy; and the building should be located in a walkable neighborhood.  We couldn’t agree more.

Focusing on what we do at 475 – providing critical knowledge and components for high performance enclosures and buildings – we know we can make smarter choices today.  The smarter choice we offer is what we call the Smart Enclosure.  The Smart Enclosure is an assembly system made of non-toxic materials, with low embodied energy, that creates long-lasting construction – and delivers comfort, health, and efficiency without rot, mold, or other maintenance and health headaches.

The Smart Enclosure

The Smart Enclosure is a return to fundamental principles of building science.  Then we leverage the basics of natural principles with highly selective technological innovation and manufacturing – working in harmony with nature, not in opposition.  The Smart Enclosure acknowledges its profound relationship with the outside environment and the occupants within.   This system is made of efficient, resilient and sustainable products, including HAVELOCK WOOL sheep’s wool insulation, Pro Clima membranes such as INTELLO Plus, and GUTEX exterior insulation board – resulting in buildings that are better for people and for the planet.

So what are key attributes of the Smart Enclosure assembly?

  • Natural Insulation Materials.  Continuous GUTEX Wood fiberboard insulation and HAVELOCK WOOL sheep’s wool cavity insulation insulation are non-toxic, zero-VOC high-performance materials.
  • Vapor Intelligence.  Pro Clima INTELLO Plus is a zero-VOC, vapor intelligent membrane that builds drying reserves by responding to changing conditions of vapor drive and moisture concentrations – and ensuring the long-term health of your building by preventing moisture loading of the building assembly.
  • Airtightness.  An airtight enclosure is essential – providing comfort, energy efficiency and protection against moisture damage – to high performance building.  Pro Clima membranes and tapes provide long-term building airtightness.
  • Comfort and Indoor Air Quality.  A vapor-intelligent, airtight assembly that utilizes natural materials can guarantee a high level of indoor air quality and occupant comfort. The Smart Wall resists mold growth, eliminates concerns about off-gassing and VOCs, and is very effective at sound attenuation – all contributing to a healthy and comfortable indoor environment.

The Smart Enclosure starts with a Smart Wall that embodies these qualities.   Let’s break the assembly down.

The Smart Wall Assembly Breakdown

 

SMART WALL ASSEMBLY

Moving from interior to exterior, the Smart Wall consists of:

  • Interior finish
  • Furring strips forming a service cavity (with optional additional sheeps’ wool insulation) – for wiring, outlets and other services.
  • INTELLO Plus interior air barrier and vapor-intelligent membrane
  • Framing with HAVELOCK WOOL insulation,
  • Structural sheathing (from boards to exterior grade gypsum board)
  • Continuous GUTEX wood fiberboard exterior insulation and WRB
  • Furring strips for back-vented rainscreen.
  • Exterior siding rainscreen

The Smart Wall is the ideal solution for low-carbon, high-performance wall construction.  Let’s break it down further.

Smart Wall Component Breakdown:

HAVELOCK WOOL: Natural Insulation

Wool is just about as natural as an insulation material can get. Havelock Wool, from New Zealand sheep, is a durable, carbon-negative, all-natural, and very high performing form of insulation. Some of the benefits of wool insulation include:

Havelock Wool is a safe, all-natural insulation material. It is also baby-tested and approved.

Havelock Wool is a safe, all-natural insulation material. It is also baby-tested and approved.

  • Havelock Wool is a safe, all-natural insulation material. It is also baby-tested and approved.

    Moisture Control.  Wool insulation is capable of absorbing up to 35% of its weight in moisture, and manages moisture levels against 65% relative humidity.

  • Toxin Sequestration.  Wool binds permanently to formadehyde, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides, sequestering them from the air that you breathe and improving the health of the indoor environment.
  • Chemical free.  No dyes, toxins, or other chemicals are added to this virgin, untreated wool product.
  • Fire Resistance.  Wool extinguishes after smoldering, limiting the spread of fire. This is in great contrast to the high flammability of petrochemical-based insulation materials.
  • Easy Installation. Wool is available in batts, or can be blown-in behind the interior air membrane like cellulose insulation.
  • Long-lasting Performance.  Wool resists mold growth, and won’t sag over time, meaning that your R-values and healthy indoor air quality will be maintained over the life of the wall assembly.
  • Zero-waste.  Wool can be reused or composted after use, mitigating concerns about the life-cycle impacts of building materials.

Havelock Wool comes in batt or loose-fill (not dense-pack). Wool is naturally a straight fiber, able to hold its form without settling. The wool targets 0.5 lbs/ft3 whereas cellulose dense-packed would be 3.5 – 4 lbs/ft3. Wool is a safe, comfortable, and natural alternative to synthetic insulation. So give your house the sweater it deserves with Havelock Wool.

GUTEX: Carbon-Negative, Triple-Duty Performance

Guys at Kaplan Thompson enjoying working with GUTEX in Maine

Guys at Kaplan Thompson enjoying working with GUTEX in Maine

 

Guys at Kaplan Thompson enjoying working with GUTEX in Maine

GUTEX is an ideal product: exterior sheathing that serves as a WRB, a vapor-open, wind-tight layer, and additional building insulation. Some of the benefits of GUTEX include:

  • Vapor open and weather-resistant.  At 44 perms, GUTEX wood fiber boards are highly vapor-open, allowing outward drying and preventing moisture build-up in your wall assembly.
  • Noise attenuation.  GUTEX is dense, and provides additional noise attenuation to ensure occupant comfort.
  • High thermal lag.  Because of its density and high specific heat capacity, GUTEX boards heat up slowly. This keeps the building cool on hot days, and comfortable at night.
  • Net carbon sink. GUTEX is made from post-industrial recycled wood chips mixed with shavings of spruce and pine. Because trees take carbon from the atmosphere, GUTEX is a carbon-negative product.
  • Low impact dry production process. The unique dry-production process for GUTEX increases the density (and therefore performance) of the boards while reducing the energy required for their construction.
  • Environmentally friendly disposal.  GUTEX can be re-used at the end of their life in your building, can be burned as fuel, or, because they are biodegradable, will easily break down.

GUTEX wood fiber board serves numerous roles in your building assembly and ensures long-term building performance.

PRO CLIMA Membranes: Vapor Intelligent Airtightness

The vapor variability of INTELLO Plus ensures the maximum drying potential of your wall assembly.

The vapor variability of INTELLO Plus ensures the maximum drying potential of your wall assembly.

 

The vapor variability of INTELLO Plus ensures the maximum drying potential of your wall assembly.

Pro Clima membranes are the lynchpin of our approach to airtightness.  INTELLO Plus, our recommended interior membrane, ensures long-term airtightness and vapor intelligence. This vapor-variable membrane is responsive to interior relative humidity levels to ensure that moisture is able to leave the assembly.  As Alex Wilson has written on BuildingGreen, “Smart Vapor Retarders: Not Just Your Grandmother’s Poly“.

 

INTELLO Plus with service cavity

INTELLO Plus with service cavity

INTELLO Plus with service cavity

Pro Clima membranes (and the tapes that complement them) are the best way to ensure permanent building airtightness without risking the accumulation of moisture that can lead to the growth of mold and rotting structural elements.

Let’s Build A Sustainable Future, Together

A sustainable future means re-balancing our respect for natural processes and our technological innovations.  We believe the Smart Wall, consisting of Pro Clima membranes, Havelock Wool insulation, and Gutex wood fiber board, exemplifies what is possible.   The Smart Enclosure can ensure long-lasting, high-performance buildings that are healthy for occupants – and for the planet.

So, make the Smart Wall choice.  Contact us to get started today.

 Foam FailsGUTEX Wood FiberboardHavelock woolIntelloSmart Wallsustainability

 

Sheep's wool insulation, provides pollutant remediation.

Translated from airwool.com

Increasing requirements for "low - emission buildings" (various building certificates with defined room air quality, especially with regard to VOCs and formaldehyde ) - but above all also real bases on the topic of "residential health" , reinforced by a new classification of formaldehyde as a Carcinogenic and new labeling requirements from April 2015

Are an enormous challenge for developers, landlords, planners and the entire construction industry, in addition to increasing consumer demands for healthy living space from a purely "economic point of view".

However, there is still a considerable increase in pollutant concentrations in existing buildings - especially in schools and day care centers (children have an increased air flow rate and therefore an increased intake of pollutants) should be taken immediately in case of suspicion of stress! (See also Pollutant refurbishment and video sheep wool 2007 )

In recent years, the use of sheep wool has become increasingly successful both in preventive use (new construction) and in refurbishment (especially formaldehyde rehabilitation).

Pollution prevention

For decades (first studies from Australia) the ability of sheep wool is known to "permanently" degrade pollutants (especially formaldehyde).

Professional use was made in Germany of wool wool for the first time in 1997 for the formaldehyde rehabilitation of a kindergarden by the eco Institute Cologne (Dr. Zwiener); Extensive research was carried out in collaboration with the Wollsuchschinginstitut at the TH Aachen (Dr. Wortmann), the eco Institute and the company Doppelmayer (Dr.Sweredjuk). In the meantime, sheep wool has been successfully used in numerous formaldehyde restorations in public buildings (especially in Switzerland, pages 16 to 19), but also in the case of formaldehyde-laden prefabricated houses of the 80s and 90s.

A sheep wool fleece is often used

For the renovation of rooms and buildings subject to pollution. Pollutant remediation especially in the case of formaldehyde,

VOCS, smell of fire after rooms / swell fires, heating oil smell in the house 

For a preventive use for room air optimization, reduction of odors especially in new building

Further information, practical reports and research reports can be found at: Forschungsberichte Schafwolle

Pre-eminently, sheep wool is recommended but also in combination with acoustic blanket

Even when the "harmful fleece" is used, however, the corresponding (harmless) moth protection and the emission behavior of the wool itself (requirement of emissions test reports from the respective manufacturer!) Must not be affected by another (eg pyrethroids, residues from woolen washing) ...) to replace.

Sheep wool insulation

Especially in the case of wooden houses (important among others for chemically sensitive builders. Through the use of the insulating material wool wool a reduction of the natural aldehyde load from the wood can be achieved; It is recommended that MCS sufferers in the case of wooden houses at least insulate the installation level with sheep wool.

New Building Technology Stuffs Walls with Wool for Better Health

SAN FRANCISCO (April 11, 2017) — People are smart, and people breathe, but most of us wouldn't think the same of the walls that surround our living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens.

A couple of building professionals are trying to change that perception with what they believe is the smartest, most breathable wall ever developed.

Called the ‘Smart Wall,’ the system is made of efficient, resilient and sustainable products, including Havelock Wool sheep’s wool insulation, Intello wall lining membranes and Gutex insulation board.

Kirkland camper manufacturer cozies up to wool insulation provider for eco-friendly solution

Kirkland camper manufacturer cozies up to wool insulation provider for eco-friendly solution

A Kirkland camper manufacturer has signed an agreement with Havelock Wool to insulate all of its eco-friendly trailers with sheep’s wool instead of foam board.

The partnership comes after Homegrown Trailers outfitted some of its newest mobile units with the all-natural product and decided wool was a better solution than the polystyrene panels used in the company’s inaugural designs.

New Wall System Developed Using Organic Wool Insulation

New Wall System Developed Using Organic Wool Insulation

People are smart, and people breathe, but most of us wouldn't think the same of the walls that surround our living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens.

A couple of building professionals are trying to change that perception with what they believe is the smartest, most breathable wall ever developed.

Nature’s Choice

Nature’s Choice

At first glance, the photo is unsettling: A child inside a newly constructed home, not just playing near insulation, but sticking her arms inside of it. For Andrew Legge, founder of Sparks, Nevada–based Havelock Wool, the image encapsulates what sets his product apart from the rest. “Who takes their kids around insulation? No one,” says Legge, referring to the photo on his insulation company’s pamphlet.

INSULATING HOMES WITH NATURAL SHEEP'S WOOL

INSULATING HOMES WITH NATURAL SHEEP'S WOOL

Havelock Wool is pioneering the use of unaltered sheep’s wool as an environmentally-friendly and renewable insulation material for U.S. homes and buildings

Wool has been keeping both sheep and humans warm for centuries. But now one company is using shorn sheep’s wool to give fiberglass and foam insulation a run for their money.

What inspired Havelock Wool?

I started Havelock Wool with another American who has a similar love for all things New Zealand. The farmers there were looking for new markets and uses for their wool, and the American market—which generates only 1% of the global annual yield of wool—is a great place to introduce this time-tested, high-quality natural product.

Is the insulation clothing-grade wool? Our friends in New Zealand think we’re using better wool than necessary to effectively insulate homes, but it carries a significantly higher fiber diameter than Merino wool and is more coarse. This means that it’s comfortable to the touch but not as soft as Merino wool, which is prized for its comfort.

WALL SYSTEMS ARE COOL, GETTING COOLER

High performance building is making more and more sense.  Our positions are clear concerning the span from disingenuous marketing dollars supporting garbage products to a need to reduce waist as landfills finite life is closing in.  

We need to build smarter and make our structures more efficient.  Foam is not the answer.  Smart membranes may well be.  That in mind, why not compliment such an effort with smart insulation? 

We're making an exception to talk our own book given a high level of excitement to be collaborating with @foursevenfive as there is some really exciting potential to build intelligently.  See here for more and join us the meaningful and useful effort @havelockwool.com

WEAK LAWS AND WEAKER GOVERNANCE KEEP TOXIC CHEMICALS ON THE MARKET.....by Eve Gartner @ EARTHJUSTICE

We recently wrote about the broad public support for a petition to ban a class of toxic organohalogen flame retardants from consumer products. “Wait a minute,” you might be thinking. “Doesn’t the government already regulate chemicals for safety?” The fact of the matter is that we know certain chemicals are toxic and yet they are still in use.  Flame retardants, which migrate out of common household items leading to widespread exposures, are a prime example.

Click here for the full article.

Farm To Walls

Join us on a quest to introduce the concept of Farm to Walls.  We are clearly believers that #naturedoesitbetter, thus we are entirely dedicated to bringing the pristine, pastoral paradise of NZ and nature's wool factory to the comfort of your live/work space.  Help us make this story mainstream!

Passive House California

Who knew insulation might attract an audience? Perhaps the location and its aptitude to serve alcohol has something (read everything) to do with it!! Nevertheless, we are honored to be included on the Passive House California New & Natural Products Panel - Wool, Hemp, Cork on 31 May at the Pyramid Alehouse and Brewery in Berkely. 

Click here for more information. 

A Circular Reference to Wool

As we ring in Lunar New Year and the Year of the Sheep it is appropriately coincidental to have recently visited Chipping Campden where in the middle ages wool made the Cotswolds one of the wealthier parts of England.  Local lore argues the first wool capital of the world encircled the corner of Sheep & High St.

As we ring in Lunar New Year and the Year of the Sheep it is appropriately coincidental to have recently visited Chipping Campden where in the middle ages wool made the Cotswolds one of the wealthier parts of England.  Local lore argues the first wool capital of the world encircled the corner of Sheep & High St.

Reduced numbers of sheep notwithstanding, wool continues to be well understood though surprisingly only rumored as insulation.  This was interesting given the well publicized usage in British Parliament to the South and Edinburgh Castle to the North.   Ah well, tis only inspiration to make more noise to the West and across the pond!

Reduced numbers of sheep notwithstanding, wool continues to be well understood though surprisingly only rumored as insulation.  This was interesting given the well publicized usage in British Parliament to the South and Edinburgh Castle to the North.   Ah well, tis only inspiration to make more noise to the West and across the pond!