Since its 1938 introduction, fiberglass insulation has remained the preeminent material for commercial and residential insulation. Over the years, fiberglass insulation has proven its ability to make buildings more energy efficient, reduce utility costs, and increase occupant’s comfort. These and other important attributes have given it a new life as the leading insulation material in many of today’s green building projects.
Fiberglass batt, roll, and blown-in insulation deliver sustainable performance
Typically manufactured in two different forms — pre-cut batts and rolls, and blown-in loose-fill — fiberglass building insulation is used primarily for thermal and acoustical purposes in wall cavities, attics, and other critical open spaces in building assemblies. One of its key advantages is value: fiberglass insulation has a lower installed price than many other types of insulating materials and, for equivalent R-value performance (i.e., thermal resistance), it is generally the most cost-effective option when compared to cellulose or sprayed foam insulation systems.
Seven reasons to choose fiberglass insulation
- Thermal performance and energy efficiency
Fiberglass insulation better retains the desired temperature of enclosed spaces, whether they are heated or cooled. Its thermal performance reduces utility costs for building owners, conserves nonrenewable fuel sources, and provides greater occupant comfort (when used in conjunction with appropriately sized heating and cooling equipment).
Additionally, fiberglass insulation offers design flexibility. Greater amounts can be installed in some sections of a building to increase overall thermal performance and compensate for areas with lower thermal values, such as windows and doors. It enables a wide range of R-values, giving the specifier more options for meeting provincial and national energy code requirements.
- Fiberglass insulation R-value
Fiberglass batt insulation products come in R-values ranging from R8 to R49, whereas loose-fill fiberglass can be blown-in with pneumatic devices to meet almost any R-value requirement. Blown-in fiberglass insulation also can be installed over existing batt insulation in renovation projects to increase overall R-value.
Since it is inert and does not settle, properly installed fiberglass insulation maintains its R-value over a long period of time. Fiberglass insulation batts and rolls must always be installed at their full designed thickness to achieve the stated R-value — compressed fiberglass insulation loses R-value. If the material is allowed to regain its original thickness, however, the full R-value is restored. Installers should always ensure the insulation completely fills construction cavities without gaps or voids.
- Moisture resistance
Fiberglass insulation neither absorbs nor holds water when exposed to moisture. The inert material will dry after an extended moisture exposure, and will regain its original R-value, as long as it hasn’t been deformed, physically torn apart or contaminated with dirt. However, installers should visually inspect the material on all six sides to determine if it’s visibly undamaged; then always make sure that the area surrounding the insulation has also been inspected, cleaned and fully dried. Once the material has been thoroughly dried, it will regain its original R-value1.
- Fire resistance
Made from sand and recycled glass, fiberglass insulation is inherently noncombustible and remains so for the product’s life. It requires no additional fire-retardant chemical treatments. Many building codes also recognize fiberglass insulation as acceptable fireblocking in wood- and steel-framed wall assemblies.
- Acoustic control
Fiberglass insulation is a naturally sound-absorbent material2 that significantly reduces sound transmission in wall, ceiling, floor and HVAC assemblies. The first inch of fiberglass insulation in a building cavity can increase an assembly’s sound transmission class (STC) value by three or four points in some constructions. Each additional inch has the potential to increase the assembly STC rating of up to two additional points3.
- Recycled content
Between 1992 and 2000, the fiberglass insulation manufacturing industry recycled more than 8 billion pounds (3.6 billion kg) of pre- and post-consumer glass containers, eliminating the need for millions of cubic feet of landfill space4. Fiberglass insulation has significant recycled content, with some batt, roll and loose-fill insulation products containing up to 80 percent recycled glass5. The other main ingredient in fiberglass insulation, silica sand, is an abundant, naturally renewing resource, limiting environmental impact in the manufacturing process.
- Locally manufactured
Many green building programs (e.g., LEED and NGBS) grant additional credits for materials that are regionally manufactured and use locally sourced raw ingredients. CertainTeed has fiberglass plants strategically located across North America that allow building designers or specifiers to take advantage of this important credit.
Fiberglass insulation packs multiple green performance features into one product and still comes at a very competitive price when compared to other insulation materials. After 80+ years on the market, it’s an excellent choice with a tried-and-true track record. Consult with us today to learn more about our building insulation products.
We’re always available to assist you with any questions you may have. Please let us know what you need:
1. Refer to NAIMA’s “FAQs About Fiberglass Insulation”
2. Refer to CertainTeed brochure Noise Control For Buildings
3. See NAIMA’s publication #B1405, Sound Control for Commercial and Residential Buildings
4. Refer to NAIMA’s “Insulation Facts #35: Comparing Fiberglass and Cellulose Insulation”
5. See Appendix A7 of The Environmentally Responsible Construction and Renovation Handbook, by Public Works and Government Services of Canada (PWGSC)