Many existing buildings are not sufficiently insulated and mimic the outside temperature.
Early Southern Africans understood well how to build for comfort and survival in our sometimes brutal climate, from cob houses to beehive huts.
However, with the advent of modern mass-produced building materials and the ability to intervene in internal climates through air-conditioning, the need for a comfort focus in the building envelope diminished. It became more cost-effective to build inexpensively and control the temperature mechanically later, using what used to be the world’s cheapest electricity to run heating and cooling systems.
According to Isofoam’s general manager, Conrad Smith, many buildings have been built by developers, for whom it would not have made economic sense to provide a benefit such as high levels of thermal insulation, which is generally hidden within the fabric of the building and for which there was no general market demand.
This means that many existing buildings are not sufficiently insulated and mimic the temperature of their external environment. Adequate insulation can contain the internal temperature of a building within the range where humans are most comfortable, generally between 20 and 27 degrees Celsius.
“The consequence of many of our earlier lifestyle choices is the threat of global warming, and we are obliged to take remedial action, from a statutory as well as a moral and economic viewpoint,” says Smith.
All new buildings in South Africa must meet the energy-efficiency standards as determined in SANS 10 400 XA. However, there are as yet no stipulations requiring energy-efficiency measures in existing buildings through retrofitting.
Still many owners have taken it upon themselves to add thermal insulation to the building envelope to make their homes and buildings more comfortable, thereby reducing heating and cooling, particularly in this era of rapidly increasing energy costs.
“Comfort and building green are not the only factors driving us towards thermal insulation,” states Smith. “The financial pressure due to the increase in energy costs and the regulatory pressure due to the new Energy Efficiency Bill are realities that we need to deal with urgently.”
Apart from creating more comfortable internal temperatures for humans, animals and plants, a well-insulated building also requires less heating or cooling measures to achieve the optimal environment.
Insulation can further eliminate internal condensation, reducing mould growth and resultant exposure to bacteria, which could result in better sleep and less stress for its occupants.
In addition, any building with an economic purpose will benefit from insulation so that people can operate at their highest productivity levels and for animals to have a higher feed conversion ratio.
According to Smith, one of the easiest insulators to install is IsoBoard, a flexible, lightweight thermal insulation board with high compressive strength that can be fitted either as a roof liner, ceiling, cavity wall or inverted floor application.
“IsoBoard does not sustain flame spread and contains no toxic gasses. It is moisture-resistant and therefore does not support mould growth or contain food for vermin, which allows it to be used in high humidity applications in agriculture, aquaculture and manufacturing plants. In residential applications it can be used where moisture and condensation is prevalent, such as kitchens and bathrooms,” he explains.
“If installed correctly, IsoBoard can be expected to last the lifespan of a building and contribute significantly to energy savings in terms of heating and cooling, meaning lower energy costs and fewer carbon emissions.”
Isofoam SA (Pty) Ltd
Tel: 021 983 1140
Reasons to insulate buildings:
– Meeting new standards.
– Cost savings.