Havelock Wool, a provider of wool insulation solutions, in partnership with 475 High Performance Building Supply, has introduced the ‘Smart Wall’, a smart enclosure system made of highly efficient, durable and sustainable products, including Havelock Wool sheep’s wool insulation, Pro Clima membranes and Gutex insulation board.
The Smart Wall was conceived and developed by green entrepreneurs Andrew Legge and Lucas Johnson to improve indoor air quality while protecting health and the planet. Constructed using non-toxic materials, the enclosure system uses existing and new technology to generate an airtight, energy efficient and long-lasting building envelope that delivers comfort and healthier air without the risk of rot, mold or other maintenance and health concerns.
“Most walls are built with toxic materials and end up being vapor retarded or, in many cases, what we refer to as ‘vapor-closed,’” said Johnson, a Seattle-based consultant for 475 High Performance Building Supply. “These walls trap moisture and are almost impossible to dry out. This can cause accelerated structural decay, and cultivation of mold and contaminants, which can lead to costly repairs and recurrent respiratory and flu-like symptoms – a high price to pay.”
Another recently identified effect of compromised indoor air is decreased cognitive function. A 2015 Harvard study found that occupants in buildings with low volatile organic compound (VOC) levels scored 61 percent higher on a test measuring critical thinking prowess than those in buildings with conventional VOC levels. When higher ventilation rates were added to the equation, scores were 101 percent higher.
“We spend as much as 90 percent of our time indoors, so buildings have a unique ability to influence our physical health and cognitive performance,” said Andrew Legge, founder of Havelock Wool, which is pioneering the use of sheep’s wool in the U.S. as a natural building material. “The quality of air that we breathe matters. And, it matters for business owners too, because when employees can think clearly, productivity and the bottom line are improved.”
Sustainable, recyclable and biodegradable, natural wool insulation is highly effective for both thermal and acoustic insulation. It continues to perform well due to its inherent ability to absorb and release moisture, and can last for multiple generations. And, unlike other types of insulation, no protective gear is required when installing it. All of these factors make wool insulation particularly well-suited for the Smart Wall enclosure system.
Added Johnson, who has a bachelor’s degree in Physiochemical Biology and master’s degree in Environmental Science, “With the Smart Wall, we’re talking about material that is not only able to manage moisture naturally, but is void of chemicals, is fire resistant and is earth-friendly. At the same time, it solves many of the problems builders and installers encounter when installing insulation – for example, moisture-riddled studs popping the foam in wall cavities.”
Legge is also working with 475 High Performance Building Supply on the “Smart walls for smart kids” project, an initiative that seeks to provide a safer, healthier environment for students through the installation of Smart Walls in schools.
Commented Legge, “As more architects and builders seek to improve the spaces we inhabit, building materials will become increasingly ‘intelligent’ and adaptive. By interweaving natural principles with technological innovation and manufacturing, we’re working in harmony with nature rather than against it to create smarter, healthier buildings (and people) – one wall at a time.”