What Makes Zero House – Applegate Cellulose Insulation

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This is one in a series of blog posts about the materials we’ve chosen to build our Zero House project…

What is Applegate Cellulose Insulation?  Cellulose insulation is a high performance blown-in insulation for wall, roof and floor cavities that is made from recycled newsprint paper.

Where is Applegate Cellulose Insulation used in Zero House?  Most of our prefabricated wall panels and all of our prefabricated floor and roof panels use Applegate cellulose insulation to pack the cavities.

 

How does Applegate Cellulose Insulation help achieve the Zero House goals?

  • Zero carbon footprint – Applegate cellulose is made from recycled newsprint paper fibers, and that paper is about 50% carbon by weight. Rather than returning to the atmosphere as CO2 when the paper is burned or decomposes, it is now captured for long-term storage in the structure of our building.
  • Zero net energy use – Applegate cellulose has an R-value of 3.8 per inch, and adds R-62.7 to our floor system, R-38 to our walls and R-74 to our roof. The insulation is dense-packed into these cavities, ensuring that there are no gaps or voids in the insulation layer, which is key to high performance.
  • Zero toxins – Applegate cellulose is treated with borax as a fire retardant and insect deterrent. Though we wear respirators while applying the insulation, the material is not toxic and doesn’t contain the dangerous binders and fire retardants of most other insulation materials.

Other reasons  for using Applegate Cellulose Insulation:

  • Affordability – Cellulose is the lowest cost option for cavity insulation, so we get all the sustainability benefits and a lower cost.
  • Code Compliance – Cellulose insulation is fully code compliant.
  • Workability – Dense packing cellulose is a very straightforward process, and a team of two can insulate a whole building in a day or two.
  • Waste – Because cellulose is blown into cavities, there are no off-cuts and no waste. Any cellulose left on site can be sent to newsprint recycling.
  • Vapor permeability – Zero House wall and roof systems are vapor-open, meaning that moisture is able to transpire through the entire wall or roof. Cellulose has a very high perm rating and moisture storage capacity, so is ideal for vapor permeable assemblies.

Any drawbacks to using Applegate Cellulose Insulation?

  • Dense-packing equipment may be difficult for owner-builders to rent. Most building-supply stores will provide the equipment for loose-blowing the insulation into attic spaces, but this isn’t adequate for dense-packing into walls.

Applegate Cellulose Insulation is a material that will definitely be used on further projects at Endeavour Centre.

 

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