Lower Embodied Energy In Cellulose Manufacture Means A Greener Building
Cellulose manufacture has a number of advantages over other insulation types for builders, designers, and owners who value environmentally-friendly products and processes.
Any product that goes through a manufacturing process requires energy to be consumed to create it. This is known as its embodied energy. Some products can be manufactured with very little embodied energy, such as cellulose. Other products, such as some kinds of microchips, have been reported to use as much energy in their manufacture as a full-sized automobile!
Factors that affect embodied energy can include not only physical processing plant energy used, but also energy required to transport and refine the raw materials that go into a product. Therefore, products that are shipped long distances at various stages of their creation contain higher embodied energy. For example, it is now common, in our global economy, to gather raw materials from multiple sources on different continents, ship them to Asia, where they are processed, transported to the North American continent, and then distributed throughout the United States.
Cellulose manufacture is known to excel in this area for a number of reasons:
- It can be manufactured in relatively small plants using electricity.
- There are virtually no carbon emissions from manufacture
- It is processed locally, requiring little energy for transport.
- It is made primarily from recycled newsprint – very little product has to be created.
Embodied energy is measured in Megajoules per Kilogram. In other words, how many megajoules of energy does it take to create 1 kg of material. Below are some sample measurements for some common building materials:
|Building Material||Embodied Energy (MJ/kg)|
|cellulose insulation (loose fill)||0.9 – 3.3|
In the manufacture of a typical home, using Cellulose insulation over Fiberglass would represent a savings of 10,872 BTUs of embodied energy!