Why Woodfibre Insulation is an Ideal Solution for Social Housing Projects

NBT Updates

Across Europe, more than 20% of those on low incomes struggle to keep their homes adequately warm and the most recent figures for England indicate that 13% of those in social housing are living in fuel poverty, with low incomes and high energy costs placing them below the poverty line.

It’s a situation that many social housing providers have taken action to resolve, with a variety of measures including more energy-efficient heating systems, the introduction of renewable energy-based installations and new build programmes that embed sustainability and energy efficiency in their design.

Insulation continues to play  the principle role in any successful energy efficiency strategy and the use of woodfibre insulation and airtightness membranes, such as the solutions found within Pavatex range from NBT, offers a sustainable approach to both new build and retrofit requirements.


The Benefits of Diffusion Open Insulation

Whether you’re planning a new build social housing project or upgrading existing social housing stock, the service life of each property asset and providing better living environments for tenants are both key design considerations. Choosing a diffusion open, natural insulation such as the Pavatex range of woodfibre can help to achieve those goals by:

  • Ensuring the property retains heat in winter and remains cool in summer
  • Preventing moisture from becoming trapped within the building fabric
  • Preventing the risk of condensation that can cause damage to timbers and other materials over time
  • Preventing the growth of spores that can affect indoor air quality and the health of the occupant

The Pavatex range is diffusion open thanks to the naturally hygroscopic properties of woodfibre insulation, which absorbs any moisture and gradually releases it, preventing condensation and the risk of vapour being trapped in the building fabric. This means that woodfibre is a material that’s ideal for any type of structure, including solid brick or stone walls, and the Pavatex range includes solutions specifically developed for use as retrofit insulation for traditionally-built social housing homes.


Adding Airtightness into the Mix

Preventing heat from escaping a property through the walls and roof using insulation can significantly reduce heating bills and carbon emissions and the natural ability, unique to woodfibre, to regulate heat gain during the summer months also means that properties insulated using the Pavatex range will remain at a comfortable, ambient temperature all year round.

To maximise the benefits of woodfibre insulation in social housing new build or retrofit projects, however, specifiers also include airtightness membranes and tapes from the Pavatex range in the wall and roof build up. Adding a diffusion-open airtightness membrane to the specification ensures that heat is not lost due to drafts or thermal bridging, enhancing the thermal efficiency of the property.


Pavatex in Action in Fife Social Housing Project

Amongst the recent social housing projects that have placed woodfibre insulation and airtightness membranes at the heart of their thermal performance strategy is the Fraser Avenue estate in Inverkeithing.

Phase I of the Fife Council ‘Estate Action Area’ regeneration scheme, comprising 53 new homes, has recently been completed by Campion Homes for Fife Council’s registered social landlord (RSL) partner, Kingdom Housing. The project aims to transform an area classed within the 15% most deprived residential locations in Scotland by replacing 1950s/60s flats with energy efficient, healthy low-rise homes.

Solutions from the Pavatex range were specified for all 53 of the phase 1 properties. The Pavaclad system was specified to form a ‘thermal shell’ for the building envelope of each property. A 140mm layer of Pavaflex flexible woodfibre insulation, which has exceptional thermal performance and storage properties, was installed between the stud walls, with 80mm of Pavatherm plus, a woodfibre insulating sarking board, installed to the external wall. The thermal effectiveness of the woodfibre insulation layer was then maximised with the installation of Pavatex DB3.5 airtightness membrane and AVCL, sealed using Pavafix tape.

For the roof, 300mm Pavaflex woodfibre insulation has been installed between the ceiling joists as part of a cold roof build-up, which will prevent heat rising into the loft space for a more thermally-efficient indoor environment.

The specification will ensure that tenants benefit from lower fuel bills and more comfortable homes that are warmer in winter and cooler in summer, while the Council and Housing Association will benefit from the properties’ extended, low maintenance design life.