Recycling blue jeans into insulation for walls has been one of the more fun and easily accessible green building options for a few years now, with more people hearing about it, being intrigued, learning more and selecting it. As with any green building material, the more it is discovered and used, the quicker the price goes down, and of course, the better health for all of us inside our buildings.
So why IS it a great option? Traditionally, a main insulation material has been fiberglass, made from molten glass, usually with 20-30% recycled industrial waste and post-consumer content. Not bad, you say! Well, let’s outdo that, shall we?
Cotton insulation has been increasing in popularity as an environmentally preferable option for a number of reasons:
- The Itch Factor – Well, there isn’t one. When installers work with fiberglass insulation, and then take a hot shower, the pores of their skin open and the fiberglass can get in and itch. So when working with fiberglass, installers usually take cold showers to avoid this. With recycled blue jean (or cotton) insulation, this is not an issue for our workers because there is no formaldehyde nor other toxic substances, and very low toxicity during manufacture.
- VOCs – You’ve probably heard these letters, even if you didn’t know what they mean. Volatile Organic Compounds are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. There are no such concerns with this insulation.
- High post consumer content (upwards of 90% !!!) – This is a really terrific point. Post-consumer recycled content is considered to have greater eco-benefits than pre-consumer recycled content because it’s something that was used and then is being reused, and diverted from the landfill. (More on pre- and post-consumer content HERE.)
- High R-value – This means that there is a high measure of thermal resistance. So the high level protects, and provides energy-savings, helping keep out the cold and the heat.
We at Pacific Audi are excited to be using the blue jean insulation as one of the key building materials. We are so excited, in fact, that when the building is finished, there will be a drywall cut-out with glass covering that allows building visitors to view the insulation (UltraTouch): kind of like one would view a painting through a frame!
On the LEED front, its use as recycled content provides us with four points towards the “Materials & Resources” credit. It also counts towards the use of rapidly renewable materials because it is, obviously, cotton, which is a fast-growing crop.
We believe that, like the smog-eating walls (see earlier post), blue jean insulation presents an opportunity for building projects like our showroom to showcase an innovative spirit, trying new (and interesting) ideas that make a building a better place. And we get to share—with all those who work here or visit us—that we were able to build a beautiful, strong and healthy building, without compromising on quality.