Many of my readers know that green building has always been my passion. However, some of the building products used are less than green in my book. I am guilty as well for using them since I didn’t have a viable alternative.
As many of you know I used Icycnene, an open cell foam insulation in my walls. Although I loved the performance of the product, spray foam insulation contain a petroleum based product. Petroleum is a natural resource in which we keep depleting. However, Oregon Shepard provides an alternative to the petroleum based insulation world using an old traditional product, wool. Best yet, from sheep that graze in Oregon.
Before I get into the specifics about the product, I had the chance to sit down with Bob Workman, CEO, and Kelly Donnelly, brand and marketing manager of the Company, to discuss this product. I urge you to listen to either the below podcast or video as Bob and Kelly walked me through the intricacies of Oregon Shepherd’s wool insulation.
Give Me the Baaah Run Down
The Company sells two different products: PermaBatt blown in and PermaLoft batt insulation.
PermaBatt® Natural Insulation for walls and other framing
Can be hand placed or can be blown into vertical cavities between framing members in walls. It is ideal for the remodel/retrofit project.”
Why is this product so green?
According to the Company, the Oregon Shepherd wool insulation has the following attributes:
- fire and vermin resistant
- 100% natural (no polyester fibers added to make it rigid)
- resist mold
- acoustically superior
- provides a reduced air infiltration.
- won’t settle
- no special protection such as gloves or masks are needed (unlike installing fiberglass.)
- no itch factor. Oregon Shepard wool is “fluffy and very soft; like a cloud.”
- no plastic packaging. All packaging is recyclable.
But with all these green pluses, all I can think about is wool and moths. Remember those hideous moth balls when we were growing up? Workman explained that the wool is sprayed with a solution consisting of a boron molecule combines with an animal protein to prevent vermin damage and fire spread. According to Workman, their propriety solution binds with the protein fiber in the wool. He states other products, such as cotton or cellulose spray use an adhesive to adhere their boric solution to their product.
However, a representative of Bonded Logic indicated “UltraTouch Denim Insulation does not use an adhesive to adhere its boric solution.”
How is it Installed?
The blown insulation insulation is applied similar to cellulose. It can be blown in an open cavity. Alternatively, small holes can be drilled into the drywall, and then blown in. The Company further explains,
“Our ultra thin netting is simply stapled over the framing members and the insulation is blown or hand placed in the framing cavities. Our exclusive PermaNet stapled over the framing members retains the insulation while the wall coverings are being placed and finished.”
But will it settle?
During the interview, I questioned Workman about possible settling once it is blown in. The Company states wool fiber has pliable memory whereas other loose insulation will settle over time.
“So while your initial 10 inches of fibrous insulation will provide a value of R-38, it settles to an actual depth of only 8-9 inches, lowering efficiency by up to 20%. Wool fibers’ unique attributes actually cause it to increase in depth over a several month period.”
But what happens if it gets wet?
I have some leaks in my house and my Icycnene did not deteriorate. Now, mind you, we aren’t talking about a flood. So, will the wool have to be ripped out if there is minor water damage? Workman said no.
I held my breath when I asked how much will this wool insulation costs. Workman surprised me when he told me for a 2 by 6 R19 insulation, it would be less than Ultra Touch recycled cotton insulation. “Oh, come on,” I thought.
When I went to the website, the Company had the pricing laid out for my eyes to feast. I recalled that I paid a little under $1 a foot for R-13 Ultra Touch back in the day (seven years ago…) So, it seemed comparable to cotton insulation, but much more expensive than fiberglass.
You can buy insulation in the following quantities on their site:
- Option #1 – Product# 44011 Fills a 10 ft long X 8 ft high wall with an R-Value of R13 Price – $74.95
- Option #2 – Product# 44016 Fills a 7 ft long X 8 ft high wall with an R-Value of R21 Price – $74.95
Right now distribution is from their Oregon factory, but the Company hopes to have an east coast distribution center soon.
The wool industry has been under scrutiny for unethical animal treatment. PETA.org states in it article, “Inside the Wool Industry,”
“[s]hearers are usually paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast work without regard for the sheep’s welfare. Experienced shearers clip more than 350 sheep in one day, and that pace is maintained for up to four weeks.(6,7)”
Although the article targeted Australian wool, shearing is shearing. When I asked this question about the treatment of the sheep who provide wool for the insulation, Workman assured me that the sheep are humanely sheared and taken care of. (I could not confirm or deny Workman’s response.)
What about Vegetarians or Vegans?
If you are vegetarian (like me) or vegan, wool insulation may not be an option for you due to your animal ethics. I was extremely excited about the product until I thought about where the wool came from. Kind of one of those light bulb moment. Many of you might be thrilled to have another alternative other than fiberglass or petroleum based spray foam insulation.
Join the conversation
- How do you feel about wool insulation?
- Would you use wool insulation?
- How do you feel about the price?
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