Understanding Industry Issues

Sustainability, Insulation, and the Environment

The focus of today’s architects, specifiers and builders is on sustainability—building for longevity while conserving the environment. This means choosing building products that are energy-efficient, conserve virgin resources, minimize waste and reduce pollution. Fiberglass, rock wool, and slag wool insulation are such products.

The use of existing energy-efficiency technologies, such as insulation, are fundamental to sustainable development. Manufacturers of fiberglass and rock and slag wool insulation are actively engaged in efforts to reduce emissions, demand for natural resources and energy use at the manufacturing plants.

These reductions are realized through improvements in energy efficiency (maximized insulation usage), more efficient melting technologies, reductions in actual emissions through control technologies, and greater reliance on recycled materials and renewable raw materials.

Energy Efficiency = Environmental Savings

A building that is thermally efficient reduces the amount of energy required to maintain a comfortable living/working environment. A reduction in energy consumption means less fossil fuel is burned to produce that energy and the result is a reduction in polluting gases emitted into the atmosphere.

If a building uses renewable energy, an efficient building uses less of it which allows more buildings to be powered using the same energy resources. Fiberglass, rock wool, and slag wool insulations save more than 400 trillion BTUs annually – a twelve-fold savings over the energy needed to produce these products.1

The industry has made countless changes in manufacturing processes to decrease energy used, virtually eliminate waste water effluent discharges and limit the amount of pollutants emitted during the manufacture of its products.

Health and Safety Aspects of Fiberglass, Rock Wool and Slag Wool Insulation

NAIMA and its members are committed to protecting the health and safety of consumers, employees and workers who manufacture and install fiberglass, rock wool, and slag wool insulation products.

NAIMA cooperates with government organizations to provide documentation that demonstrates that the products are safe to manufacture, install and use. NAIMA and its members have invested tens of millions of dollars in independent health and safety research projects in the United States and abroad.

Fiberglass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products are supported by over 75 years of scientific research. This research, aimed at investigating the possible human health effects of insulation products, includes epidemiological studies, worker health studies, research with laboratory animals, exposure studies, and fiber biosolubility studies. Fiberglass is the most thoroughly evaluated insulation material in the market. Evaluations from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) meant that a cancer warning label for biosoluble glass fibers—such as those found in typical fiberglass home insulation—is no longer required under federal or California Law.

Reference:

  • Green and Competitive: The Energy, Environmental and Economic Benefits of Fiberglass and Mineral Wool Products. Energy Conservation Management Inc.; The Alliance to Save Energy; Barakat and Chamberlin, Inc., June 1996.