The environmental impact of insulating materials from renewable resources

Project

More than insulation - Additional benefits of insulating materials from renewable resources

Thermal insulation is demanded and promoted by the government's policy. Compared to conventional insulating materials (such as polystyrene or mineral wool) insulating materials from renewable resources do not only convince due to their performance in terms of heat storage capacity, but they also seem to be a good alternative when it comes to sustainability issues.

Background and Objective

The applicability of insulating materials from renewable resources is until now impeded by certain circumstances. Missing material parameters lead to the need for checking every component individually before it can be approved for use in the building; this process is time and money consuming. Additionally, not all types of insulation materials come with Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) to demonstrate their environmental performance.

Approach

To increase the applicability and to streamline the material selection process, ISO compliant life cycle assessments (LCA), representative for Germany, are calculated for insulating materials from renewable resources. The results can also be used by the participating companies for e.g. the creation of EPDs.

While other project partners assess the environmental impacts of insulating materials from agricultural resources, we quantify the impacts of wood fibre insulating materials as well as insulating materials made of cellulose fibres according to the standards that apply for calculating the sustainability of building products. The collection of the raw data from the manufacturers on the German market is done via questionnaires and visits to production facilities.

A close collaboration with other work packages within the joint project (e.g. fire protection) ensures that other ecologically relevant aspects (e.g. the use of new flame retardants) are also monitored and assessed.

Data and Methods

Besides data from manufacturers, we use our own datasets from the "ÖkoHolzBauDat" database, as well as generic data from LCA databases. The modeling and calculation is done based on ISO 14040/44 and EN 15804.

Our Research Questions

What are the environmental impacts of producing and using insulation materials from renewable resources? What are the implications for the environment when improving the materials' constructional properties?

Preliminary Results

The results are published as average datasets e.g. in the public database for building materials ÖKOBAUDAT and the ecological building materials information system WECOBIS of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI).

The insights and findings from this project will also feed into the project " Consolidation of Renewable Raw Materials in the Insulation Market" of the Environmental Action Germany (DUH).

Results are not yet available.

Links and Downloads

www.wki.fraunhofer.de/de/fachbereiche/qa/forschung-und-entwicklung/forschungsprojekte/zusatznutzen-daemmstoffe-aus-nachwachsenden-rohstoffen.html

Thünen-Contact


Involved Thünen-Partners


Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • Fraunhofer-WKI
    (Braunschweig, Deutschland)

Funding Body

  • Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. (FNR)
    (national, öffentlich)

Duration

12.2016 - 6.2020