Paul Barrett of Rockwool explains why housebuilders need to consider insulation that delivers safety and acoustic performance alongside maximising onsite benefits for installers, not just thermal factors
Primarily driven by Approved Document L (ADL) of the Building Regulations, making homes more energy efficient is understandably a priority for housebuilders. As well as meeting specified standards, ensuring a home has good thermal performance also directly impacts future occupiers as they benefit from energy savings and reduced household bills.
While thermal performance is a given, with more homes being constructed in urban areas, homeowners are increasingly looking for dwellings that are also quieter and safer.
When considering insulation specification, solutions that deliver additional benefits beyond thermal performance offer an efficient and costeffective route to achieving a competitive advantage, while improving comfort for the homeowner. For housebuilders, mineral wool insulation is one of the most efficient and effective ways of simultaneously addressing thermal, acoustic and fire protection.
When it comes to specifying insulation, mineral wool does more than prevent heat escape. By regulating indoor temperatures, it helps a home to stay warm in winter and cool in summer – making the space more comfortable to live in.
From a fire protection perspective, mineral wool insulation is rated as Euroclass A1 non-combustible – meaning that the insulation will not contribute to a fire, helping to safeguard people and property. Moreover, manufactured from volcanic rock, it can withstand temperatures in excess of 1000°C and does not generate any significant levels of toxic smoke.
As the demand for homes increases, developers are building in areas of increased urbanisation, which brings with it the challenge of external noise, such as traffic. The inherent acoustic properties of mineral wool insulation can assist housebuilders with addressing this by dampening sound travel into the home. The manufacturing process of the material means that within it are multi-directional strands of mineral wool which absorb sound waves and prevent the propagation of noise. Installing the insulation throughout the exterior envelope can therefore help to reduce unwanted sound in residential buildings.
HOMES THAT PERFORM
Specifying a product that can address thermal and fire requirements while also making homes quieter is a ‘value-add’ for both developer and homeowner.
While the performance benefits of mineral wool are well documented and underpinned by extensive test evidence, from an installation perspective it can achieve additional on-site advantages.
With solutions available for floor, loft, wall, ceiling and envelope applications, the insulation helps to save valuable time onsite and accelerate project timescales. Efficient to install and easy to handle, mineral wool is simple to use yet effective. With ‘friction fit’ and fabricated products available for hard to reach areas, developers are able to streamline the installation process by removing the need for many ancillaries.
Considering the long-term performance of an appropriately ventilated house, mineral wool will not contribute to damp and mould. This is because it is vapour permeable with water-repellent properties and breathability capabilities, preventing the ingress of water, but allowing trapped moisture to escape.
Finally, with ever stringent sustainability targets in construction, specifying mineral wool insulation can make a quantifiable contribution. Manufactured from one of earth’s most abundant natural resources, it is a naturally sustainable solution, which is further enhanced by the ability for unused, offcut waste to be easily recycled.
Insulation has the potential to significantly improve the energy efficiency of a home by reducing heat loss and ultimately energy bills. However, by specifying a mineral wool insulation solution, developers can install a product that embraces additional performance benefits.
This type of insulation has the power to deliver an all-encompassing solution that not only drives installation efficiencies, but also adds value for the housebuilder by creating safer, warmer and quieter developments.
Paul Barrett is head of product management at Rockwool