As we have written about, the carbon emissions of Havelock Wool stack up extremely favorably compared to any other insulation material. It’s easy to understand as our raw material is not petrochemical-based and our process is not energy-intensive. In this blog, we want to discuss another important aspect of our footprint – biogenic carbon.
Wool is made up of Biogenic Carbon
Havelock Wool comes from sheep that eat plants and grasses. These plants and grasses are created by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Therefore wool contains atmospheric carbon that has been converted into biogenic carbon…. put simply, plants, grasses, or trees. Importantly, most of the carbon stored in wool was removed from the atmosphere only over the past 1-2 years. Conversely, petrochemical-based materials use carbon that was sequestered millions of years ago (fossil fuels). And most crucially, Havelock Wool’s biogenic carbon component offsets the carbon emissions in our already energy frugal production. Win-Win.
Understanding the Carbon Cycle
By storing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), wool prevents the stored gas from contributing to climate change for the time the wool is in use (converted into carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-e), 1 kg of clean wool equates to 1.8 kg of CO2-e.) All this CO2 is removed from the atmosphere for the fiber’s life – from when grown on the sheep, to when used as insulation, until it is disposed of and biodegrades. As we noted in a previous blog, Havelock Wool is biodegradable and fully compostable. So after a very, very long life as insulation, Havelock Wool can be returned to the soil where essential elements for plant life are released (nitrogen, sulfur, magnesium) thus continuing a healthy carbon cycle. Most mainstream insulations are landfilled and do not biodegrade. As such, there is no cycle to continue.
Making Informed Decisions
Most people really don’t think much about the sustainability of building materials. Cost followed by effectiveness is still the governing principle and it’s usually the builder or architect making the decision. But if you care about the sustainability of your building materials (we’re guessing yes if you’re part of our community) then please continue to ask questions about the carbon cycle. A product that doesn’t use much carbon in its production is good. A product that actively stores carbon and participates in a healthy carbon cycle is even better.