One of the features of all OTechnology buildings is ultra-high insulation. In fact, insulation levels in all of our buildings are almost double that required by the U.S. building code. We also offer a range of insulation levels appropriate for different climates.
We make these high insulation levels standard because insulation and a tight exterior seal are two of the most important components of a home’s protection against outside conditions. Insulation is part of a building’s “thermal envelope,” which includes of all six sides of the home—the four walls, roof, and foundation. All envelope components interact as a system to affect the flow of heat, air, moisture, and sound into or out of a home. The better the thermal envelope performs, the better the health and comfort of occupants and the lower their utility and maintenance bills.
Superior insulation (dependent upon climate) is one component to a passive house system. The passive house system is a very well insulated, virtually airtight building that is primarily heated by passive solar and internal heat gains from occupants, cooking, bathing, or electrical equipment. The passive house standard is the highest building efficiency standard in the world, with the promise of reducing the energy consumption of buildings by up to 80% while providing superior comfort and air quality—all at minimized additional upfront cost. When coupled with renewable energy systems, such as solar, using passive heating and cooling puts true “zero-energy” buildings within reach. If you are interested in the entire system, please look into adding on the following elements to your OHome, OClass, or OHousing designs.
- Passive cooling
- Passive solar
- Constant fresh air
- Highly insulated
- Slab Foundation
- Double or Triple Glazed Windows (dependent upon climate).
Insulation and air sealing lowers the monthly utility bills by reducing electric and gas use at the point of consumption. Due to the inefficiency of energy production and transmission, the small amount of electricity that is saved at the home reduces a larger amount of produced power demand at the power plant, thus reducing the demand for electrical power plants. Fewer required power plants means less air and water pollution as well as a reduction in the environmental impacts of resource extraction.
Health and / or Social Benefits
The Harvard University School of Public Health conducted a series of studies on the benefits of thermal insulation and found significant public health benefits from increasing insulation in new and existing homes. The New Homes Study looked at increasing insulation in the 1.2 million new homes built in the United States each year to the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) levels. Over 10 years, the results would save 60 lives; protect people from 2,000 more asthma attacks; provide 30,000 fewer restricted activity days; and release 1,000 fewer tons of fine particulate matter, 30,000 fewer tons of NOx, and 40,000 fewer tons of SO2 into the air; and save 300 billion BTUs each year. The researchers note in one study that, “the magnitude of the economic and public health benefits indicates that creative public policies to encourage retrofits … may be warranted.”
Highly insulating your OHome, OClass, or OHousing (dependent upon climate) reduces construction costs through energy efficient design. Adding higher insulation dramatically increases the energy efficiency of a building so that the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system can be downsized or even eliminated (dependent upon climate). This efficiency “sweet spot” is a basis for the highly insulated performance standard and the key to its financial feasibility. Additionally, much smaller solar systems are required to reach zero energy; this saves costs both upfront and annually for the lifetime of the home or building.
Insulation and Air Sealing (PDF)
Building Green Website
Proper Levels of Insulation Contribute to Public Health
North America Insulation Manufacturers Association
Energy.gov Website—Tips: Insulation
U.S. Department of Energy
Low Energy House Website