At Rockwool International they know better than most how important it is to insulate buildings.
These days, almost 70% of the energy consumption of European households is spent on heating, although tremendous savings can be made by optimising insulation - as much as 2/3 of current energy consumption.
Insulation products made of rock wool, such as that produced by Rockwool factories throughout most of the world, have for some years been criticised both for having an impact on the environment during manufacture and being a danger to the health of those people who install the products.
Rockwool International has during the same period of time worked to improve the environmental and health qualities of its products, and wanted to be able to tell its customers and other decision-makers about the results.
FORCE Technology in charge of survey
In order to secure the best professional quality for its survey, Rockwool International chose FORCE Technology to take charge of the collection, processing and presentation of the existing knowledge.
The choice of FORCE Technology to perform the study was made on the basis of the company's many years of experience in the environmental health field, and because as an independent organisation it can do this with a high degree of credibility.
FORCE technology was given entirely free hands to perform the study in accordance with the best scientific standards.
Life Cycle Analysis
In order to shed light on all aspects, it was decided to perform what is known as a life cycle analysis (LCA) of the environmental aspects and a simplified risk evaluation of the work involved in installing insulation materials. In addition to a typical rock wool product, the investigation also included two other insulation products, manufactured from flax and paper wool.
In an LCA we calculate how great a contribution the product makes to the various types of environmental impact, such as the greenhouse effect, acidification and nutritive salt contamination, and we get a good impression of the product's environmental profile.
The simple risk evaluation gives us both an overview of the potential harmfulness of the product and the extent to which people are exposed to the product in a working situation.
Rockwool is competitive both environmentally and health wise
The long and short of it is that the results show that rock wool is competitive in terms of both environment and health. In actual fact, overall energy consumption in the manufacture of rock wool is least in comparison to the two other products, whereas paper wool contributes least of the three products to selected forms of environmental impact.
In the health field, available studies shows that rock wool must be considered to be the safest choice, because its characteristics are properly documented. It is especially important that the fibres are broken down as quickly as possible in the lungs and can therefore not manage to exert damage, and that the amount of dust produced while working with the product is below the limit values laid down by the Working Environment Service.
Chief engineer Anders Ulf Clausen of Rockwool International says: "We are pleased to have an evaluation of a high professional standard of what our own products alike from the point of view of the environment and health. And we are, of course, pleased that rock wool does well compared to other insulation materials. This allows us to focus our work on the area we believe is the most important, i.e. reducing the amount of energy consumed by heating."
Rockwool International A/S manufactures insulation from rock wool for e.g. buildings, industrial installations, power plants, ships and drilling rigs. The group employs more than 7,400 staff worldwide.