Eco-conscious home-builders should consider the environmental impact of every material used in a project, from its manufacturing process to sustainable longevity. Recycled materials can be used throughout a build, in both obvious ways – such as upcycled furniture – as well as in less-obvious elements, such as flooring and plumbing.
One company that is breaking new ground for recycling in the building trade is Recovery Insulation. The company develops and distributes an innovative eco insulation product made from recycled textiles called Inno-Therm. This thermal and acoustic insulation reuses waste denim and cotton and is recyclable at the end of its useable life in a zero-waste process.
First, recycled denim fabrics are processed to achieve a loose fibre of threads. Next, the material is treated for resistance to fire and has a Class A fire-resistance rating. It is also treated with a fungal inhibitor for additional protection against mold, mildew and pests before being blended with bonding fibers and heated. Finally, it is cut into batts and rolls. Any scraps from the manufacturing process can be shredded and returned to the raw material supply.
The future of home-building
The end product has excellent performance in conditions of high humidity and behaves as a hydro regulator thanks to its ability to absorb and release water vapour. This type of recycling is just one example of strides being taken to make the building industry a low-carbon circular economy – where resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value whilst in use, then regenerated after.
Inno-Therm has become a recognised sustainable alternative to conventional insulation options within the industry. Since 2005 the product has been installed in a number of eco-projects, from schools to home recording studios and internal partition walls. It was installed as the acoustic application for the National Broadcasting Company’s venue at the 2012 London Olympics and then sent to Russia and reused for this year’s Winter Olympics. Earlier this year Kevin McCloud selected Recovery Insulation for an Eco-Innovation Green Hero award, pushing it to the forefront of the self-build community.
In 2011 The Key Fund provided funding to establish Recovery Insulation as a social enterprise, meaning that donations are made from sales income to charity. The charity supported is the Schools and Homes Energy Education Project Ltd/Solar-Active, which conducts renewable energy and energy efficiency activites in educational establishments, youth groups and for the general public.