SUSTAINABILITY 29/12/2020 (UPDATED 15/10/2021)
Stone wool is a fire-safe and durable insulation material that enables energy-efficient building. In terms of the environmental impact of mineral wool in general, it is the 1:200 ratio that comes up almost always. What does it actually mean?
What about the other number in the ratio, number one, indicating the amount of carbon dioxide generated by the production of mineral wool? Is it really something worth thinking about since the advantages outweigh the disadvantages several times over? Each PAROC® insulation slab is part of the solution in fighting climate change.
“Of course it is”, says Beatrice Hallén, Sustainability Leader at Owens Corning Insulation Europe and Paroc.
”As soon as we achieve halving that number one, the ratio of manufacturing of mineral wool and saving emissions improve. We are persistently working in order to make our manufacturing process as low-carbon as possible. We believe each act makes a difference in fighting climate change."
A good example of such an act is PAROC® Natura, a carbon neutral stone wool insulation product set to be available in the beginning of 2021. It is manufactured using low-carbon melting technology, green electricity, reused waste material and new technologies. Then, by compensating the remaining CO2, Owens Corning Paroc has created a totally carbon neutral insulation product.
Stone wool is produced in an energy-intensive process which, depending on fuel and technology, releases CO2 during the manufacturing. In the perspective of the carbon footprint of a complete building the impact of different insulation materials is very limited, but nonetheless Owens Corning Paroc wants to bring the numbers down.
So, what does it take to halve the emissions generated by the manufacturing of mineral wool and, finally, to eradicate the emissions?
First and foremost, it requires investing in new technology and circular economy, believes Mats Björs, CEO at Swedisol (Trade Association for Leading Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers in Sweden).
“Compared with competing materials, mineral wool has an advantage because it can be recycled and used in so many different ways. Other insulation materials such as wood fiber insulation and plastic insulation can only be recycled by burning and recovering the energy. The development of a circular economy is wonderful for mineral wool insulation.”
Björs’ thoughts are in line with the famous quote from French President Emmanuel Macron that sometimes, when making choices, you have to be able to think simultaneously about more than just two things – or a couple of numbers.
”Mineral wool is an excellent insulation material that makes buildings not only extremely energy-efficient but also fire-safe. This is unique for mineral wool. Furthermore, with the minimization of manufacturing emissions, mineral wool is, by any measure, practically unbeatable.”
Pekka Vuorinen, Director, Environment & Energy, of The Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries was also interviewed for this article.
*Eurima (2013), Mineral Wool – Putting Natural Resources to Work for the Benefit of our Planet
**Material Economics (2018), The Circular Economy: A powerful force for climate mitigation