Insulation plays an important role in residential, commercial, and government buildings. A well-insulated building not only protects against cold in winter and excess heat in summer but is also essential in reducing noise pollution.
Fiberglass insulation is relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and long-lasting. Notably, fiberglass is used as the primary insulation material in nearly three out of every four homes. According to a 2019 report, fiberglass batt insulation accounts for 52 percent of all insulation applications in new single-family homes, while blown-in fiberglass comprises another 19 percent of new home builds.
When properly installed and protected from extended exposure to moisture, fiberglass insulation can last between 80 and 100 years.
Fiberglass Insulation Materials
Fiberglass insulation is composed of extremely fine glass fibers. This insulation material comes in batts, rolls, and as a loose, blown-in product. All of these types of fiberglass insulation work the same way. The glass fibers trap pockets of air, reducing heat transfer.
Modern fiberglass insulation manufacturing uses varying amounts of recycled glass, depending upon the brand. InsulPure™ by CertainTeed has particularly high recycled and renewable content – and is GREENGUARD Gold certified – making it stand out from competitive offerings.
Regardless of the brand, when taking into account the use of recycled content and substantial energy savings, fiberglass insulation is a sustainable option well-suited for a range of applications.
Responsible Disposal Methods
Insulation batts and rolls are simple to install and typically generate minimal waste. However, it is almost impossible to avoid at least some residual waste during the installation process. As such, it is important to responsibly dispose of the scraps and remnants that remain after completing the job.
Before disposing of this unwanted material, be sure to ask if your local solid waste authority or disposal site offers fiberglass recycling. The National Insulation Association continues to develop new methods of recycling fiberglass insulation into acoustic and thermal insulation materials. As a result, some regions do accept fiberglass insulation at their recycling facilities.
Use large, durable bags to collect any unusable insulation. Even if the fiberglass insulation can’t be recycled, most municipalities require it to be separated from other construction debris. As you fill the bags, seal them securely and remove them from the work area immediately to avoid spreading dust.
Always follow the exact procedures outlined by your local disposal authority.
When disposing of fiberglass insulation, make sure to wear loose long sleeves and long pants, and a head covering, as contact with fiberglass insulation can cause irritation. In addition, wear thick work gloves and safety glasses or goggles, along with a dust mask, and ventilate the area as much as possible prior to starting the disposal process.
If you get fibers, dust, or debris on your skin, thoroughly wash the affected area with mild soap and water. If you get debris in your eyes, avoid rubbing them and instead flush them for 15 minutes.
A Popular Choice
Fiberglass insulation is the most popular insulation material for homeowners and builders in North America for many reasons. It is affordable, durable, easy to install, and significantly improves a structure’s energy efficiency and thermal performance.
As with any building material, proper disposal at the end of its useful lifespan will help to minimize environmental impact.