Blog : An Insulation Boom

By Katie | Oct 2, 2014 | in

By Michael McCord

A Durham family got a pleasant summer surprise following the installation of spray foam insulation in their home.

“We expected to see a heat reduction this winter but we won’t know just how much for a while,” says Jeanne Wishengrad. “One thing we didn’t expect though was the impressive cooling effects of this insulation in the summer months. We were very pleased that the house, especially the second floor, has been significantly cooler this summer.”

Wishengrad says the project – which was designed and completed by The Green Cocoon – in the attic space of their home, included the removal of old insulation, the addition of new vents, and spray foam with 25 percent recycled plastic material. Wishengrad says the insulation application in June was part of a major energy efficiency plan that she and her husband began a few years ago. They have a long-term goal of becoming net zero in energy use even with the addition of air conditioning.

 “We installed solar panels a couple of years ago and before we put in a high energy electricity system, we needed new and much better insulation. The second floor was always much colder in the winter and uncomfortable for sleeping in the summer,” she explained. “Now with the new insulation we already have much better temperature stability throughout the house.”

The Green Cocoon, an environmentally-friendly insulation company located in Salisbury, Mass., but servicing most of NH, the Seacoast region and Southern Me., has seen a significant growth in better-educated residential customers such as Wishengrad. “Jeanne did a lot of research and had strong ideas about what she wanted,” says Candace Lord, Green Cocoon general manager.

Lord says her company’s wide range of renewable insulation choices – spray foam with soy and recycled content, cellulose, recycled denim, and Roxul, a mineral wool – has grown to include a significant and greener addition. The Green Cocoon now offers a spray foam blowing agent called Solstice by Honeywell which has a GWP (Global Warning Potential) rating of 99.4 percent less than any current blowing agent.

“Companies are always trying to make the manufacturing process and installation as environmentally safe and efficient as the final product. Honeywell has found a solution to this problem,” Lord explained. “To give you an idea of ratings, the current blowing agents of most spray foams have a GWP of 725 and an atmospheric life of 10.8 years. The new Solstice has a GWP of 1 and an atmospheric life of only 26 days. We are very excited to be installing spray foams with this new technology. Now, not only will customers lower their carbon footprint by having an air-tight and well insulated home, but can rest assured that the application of the product will not harm the environment.”

Insulation and energy efficiency companies such as The Green Cocoon are part of an exploding market of domestic and global applications. According to a 2013 research study by Transparency Market Research, the U. S. spray foam insulation market will grow from $6.05 billion in 2011 to more than $10.3 billion in 2018. In addition to growing commercial applications, the report said the growth is due in part to high demand for residential re-insulation and “increasing awareness about the depleting of earthly resources and the urgent need to conserve energy.”

The report said potential issues for the industry include lack of professional training for contractors and consumer concerns about environmental impacts, proper applications and product flammability. Lord says flammability is a question easily answered: “it does not spontaneously combust.” Lord added that the company has also experienced strong growth in the commercial side of the business with projects such as 233 Vaughan Street in Portsmouth, their largest to date.

Because air infiltration is a major factor in heat loss, education is a critical component. “We educate clients based on what we learn about their home during an energy audit,” says Matt Silva of Yankee Thermal Imaging, a New Hampshire energy efficiency firm that specializes in thorough energy audits and weatherization implementation projects. “When the audit is taking place we can more easily explain the options so you understand the benefits of certain types of insulation and where they best fit into the home.”

The plan by the Wishengrads to tie new energy efficiency upgrades with enhanced insulation is practiced widely in the industry. “Without sufficient, properly applied insulation, a building will never perform efficiently,” says Fay Aucella of Aucella Heating and Cooling in Strafford NH. “We size our HVAC equipment according to the quality and quantity of insulation in a building. The Green Cocoon understands building science and why the proper application of insulation is just as important as the quality of the product.”

Jeanne Wishengrad connected with The Green Cocoon through the Green Alliance, a Portsmouth organization representing more than 100 local green businesses, along with nearly 4,000 consumer members. The Green Cocoon, Yankee Thermal Imaging, and Aucella Heating and Cooling are all green-certified Business Partners of the Green Alliance and Wishengrad is a consumer member.

Find out more about The Green Cocoon at www.thegreencocoon.com.

Learn more about Yankee Thermal Imaging and energy audits at www.yankeethermalimaging.com.

Connect with Aucella Heating and Cooling at www.aucellaheatac.com.

Learn about The Green Alliance at www.greenalliance.biz.