Timber Engineering Europe
INSULATION IN BUILDINGS
Insulation in buildings is a component as integral as the main components usually associated
with building, but sadly one that is ignored or incorrectly used. The main purpose of
insulation is to reduce heat loss and to reduce both airborne and impact sound. It is also
used to prevent radiation heat penetrating a building in hot climates. Insulation and a clear air
cavity, also prevent "bridging" so common even in new buildings constructed in old-fashioned
Many continental countries ignore insulation or at best, block a small cavity with foam, which
achieves very little but can cause untold problems in concrete and masonry buildings. Timber
frame and other
modern methods of construction (MMC)
pay a great deal of attention to insulation,
both thermal and sound. It is important that not only should insulation be specified for
external and internal walls, the house base, separating floors and roof-spaces also need to
A heat barrier is necessary in the hotter regions of Europe and a minimum 50mm clear air
cavity is crucial, and most of the foregoing are NOT included in Iberia, making for damp,
cold and noisy interiors in winter and the effects of re-radiation make a hot house in the
summer, requiring mechanical methods of temperature reduction.
Timber Frame commonly uses 140mm Fibre-wool type insulation in walls as it performs well and
is reasonably priced. The same can be used in floor zones and roof space although PIR rigid
foam slabs produce a higher U value, but in either case the more the better.
Rigid insulation is used in or on the slab.
There are several environmentally conscious companies experimenting with recycled materials such as plastic and glass,
although in many cases the embodied energy required to transform waste into usable articles is very high,
therefore impractical. Natural materials are being used such as lower quality Lamb’s fleece.
Recycled newspaper is also quite popular although both have to go through an expensive process of Boron Salt application,
which inevitably reflects in the price. Whilst most of those specifying materials for the construction of buildings would
like to "go green" the cost is usually quite high and commercially unacceptable to constructors.
As rules, codes and regulations increasingly raise the demand on a developer, materials have to be used within the specified
budgets in order to sell the property at a competitive price.
In the UK where building standards are amongst the highest in the world It has been estimated that a Zero Carbon House
would still cost around 60% more than a current new home. What it would cost in some European countries where concrete is
king, is unthinkable.