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What does 'green' mean when it comes to Cel-Pak?

We like to say that Cel-Pak is a green insulation. But what do we mean by that? What is 'green', anyway?

Just to be clear, we'd never claim that our Cel-Pak insulation makes the environment 'cleaner'. No insulation makes the environment cleaner. What Cel-Pak does, when installed in a structure, is reduce energy usage, which results in reduced pollution and environmental impact. That's one piece of the puzzle when it comes to being green.

Another piece is what the insulation is made from. Cel-Pak is made from recycled, fiberized paper and other ground wood sources. That's where its 83% recycled content comes from - recycled paper that's upcycled into insulation. Added mineral borate provides it with Class A fire resistance.

What about foam?

Foam insulations are petroleum products. Many are installed using atmospherically harmful chemical blowing agents, they contain little or no recycled material and they have an embodied energy content 40 to 60 times greater than cellulose. There's nothing green about any of that and, for us, that's the end of the discussion. Foams have other problems as well, like 'thermal drift' caused by the blowing agents outgassing over time (resulting in reduced R-Value), shrinkage and cracking, and production of highly toxic smoke in the event of a fire.

How about fiberglass?

Fiberglass has a pretty good recycled content, between 35% according to the NRDC1, and an average of 50%, according to the fiberglass industry. However, it takes up to 10x more energy to make fiberglass than cellulose1. Cellulose does a much better job of preventing air infiltration, due to its higher installed densities, and that saves energy, up to 22% more than fiberglass according to one study2. And just when you need it most, when it gets really cold, loose blown fiberglass in an attic can lose R-Value due to convection.3

The bottom line.

So when we say that Cel-Pak is green, we're not saying it'll save the planet, clean up the environment, save the whales, refreeze the glaciers or any other exaggerated claim. We're saying that, in our opinion, when you consider recycled content, embodied energy, performance not covered by R-Value calculations, performance in a structural fire, and real-world energy savings potential under a variety of conditions, Cel-Pak is a great insulation choice for you, your family, and your community. And we think that's green!

Questions? Contact us!

1 NRDC Report: Keeping Warm and Staying Healthy: A Comparative look at Fiberglass and Cellulose Insulation - Principal Author and Researcher: Anjanette DeCarlo; Project Design and Direction: Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D.

2Fiber Glass vs. Cellulose Installed Performance, Soontorn Boonyartikarn, Arch. D., and Scott R. Spiezle, M. Arch, University of Colorado Graduate School of Architecture, 1990

31990ORNL/M-1646, Evaluation of a Loose-fill Cellulose Insulation in a Simulated Residential Attic Under Winter Conditions, K.E. Wilkes and P.W. Childs, Nov. 1991, ORNL/M-1644, Evaluation of Attic Seal Products Applied to Loose-fill Fiberglass Insulation in a Simulated Residential Attic, K.E. Wilkes and P.W. Childs, Aug. 1991


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