Queen’s University Partners with NatureBuilt for R-Value Testing

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As part of the FedDev program, Queen’s researchers, in partnership with NatureBuilt Wall Systems Inc, were awarded funding to further the research of the insulative properties of straw bales, the core insulation found in the NatureBuilt BioSIP wall panel.

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As building codes get more stringent on energy efficiency it will become important to find cost effective ways to achieve the insulation levels to meet code without breaking the budget.

Straw bale construction has been rigorously tested on a worldwide basis for a variety of factors such as structural integrity, moisture resistance, fire resistance, acoustics, and R-value. Of all these tests, the one area that seems to still require some refining is that of R-value. R-value is a rating given to materials that measure the resistance of heat flow through a material. Typical fiberglass batt insulation used in today’s homes has a rating of R-19.

Several studies have been carried out and there still remains controversy over what the actual R-value rating of a straw bale wall is. To date tests have shown as wide a range of values. CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) reports indicate that the R-value is at least R-28 and possibly higher. Further research has indicated that the true R-value is somewhere in the range of R-30 – R-40. Our goal is to test the relationship between bale density and R-value to be able to get a much more accurate result.

R-value is just one component of an energy efficient building. Building orientation, glazing percentage (the amount of windows), thermal mass and air tightness all play a role in the overall performance of a building envelope. R-value, is however, a good way to compare different insulation materials across the board. This allows us to compare what the heat resistance is per inch of given material.

As building codes get more stringent on energy efficiency it will become important to find cost effective ways to achieve the insulation levels to meet code without breaking the budget. Already, in the province of Ontario new code requirements have increased mandatory R-values in buildings. In standard 2x6 framing construction this means that builders will have to increase the amount of insulation that they are using in their walls. To do this, an additional layer of Styrofoam will have to be added to outside of the wall which adds to the material cost and labour cost.

The testing at Queen’s University should help to confirm that the BioSIP wall system is well above the code requirements, but just how much above is to be determined.

The results for testing will be completed by March 2013.

NatureBuilt Wall Systems Inc. manufacturers an exterior wall panel system that is environmentally friendly, airtight, super-insulated, made of all natural materials and goes up fast. Founded in 2009, the company’s BioSIP manufacturing facility is located in Welland, Ont. http://www.naturebuiltwall.com
For further information:
Neeraj Jain
NatureBuilt Wall Systems Inc.
neeraj (at) naturebuiltwall (dot) com
Twitter: @naturebuiltwall
647-505-7474

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