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Combining Thermal and Acoustic Insulation in Buildings



The insulation of a building serves to shield its inhabitants from external temperatures and surrounding noise. While these two issues have often been considered separately, there are indeed solutions that address them together.


I. Why Combine Thermal and Acoustic Insulation?


Merging thermal and acoustic insulation tackles multiple challenges to construct or renovate buildings sustainably and resiliently.

  • Frugality: the concept of frugality in construction is gaining increasing importance. This frugality is defined by the use of as few materials as possible to reduce construction waste and significantly lower a building's carbon footprint. Considering thermal and acoustic insulation together involves using materials that address both issues, thereby reducing the use of construction materials.

  • Enhancing urban living conditions: urban areas are typically hotter due to the urban heat island effect and noisier. Therefore, using materials that provide good thermal and acoustic insulation can mitigate these nuisances. Additionally, more frugal buildings help reduce carbon emissions, which contribute to the urban heat island effect.

  • Energy efficiency: a building's envelope is a crucial factor determining its energy needs (see article: insert link). Thus, good insulation can reduce heating and cooling needs, resulting in less energy-consuming buildings.

  • Lastly, the increasingly stringent regulatory framework for sustainable construction will compel builders to adopt materials that address both issues. While the use of materials that tackle these two problems is not explicitly stated, the fact that they contribute to constructing more decarbonized and frugal structures aligns with this direction.


II. How to Combine Thermal and Acoustic Insulation?


The treatment of thermal and acoustic insulation is achieved by choosing materials that prevent noise propagation inside and outside the building and maintain a comfortable temperature within it all year round.

However, materials that provide good thermal insulation are generally flexible and low-density, while those offering good acoustic insulation are typically rigid and high-density. The challenge is to find materials that meet these requirements and are also decarbonized to reduce the building's carbon footprint.


Which Materials?


  • Cellulose wadding is an example of such a material that is both sustainable and has excellent thermal and acoustic properties. It is produced from recycled newspapers and papers treated to make it fire-resistant and pest-resistant.It offers both high thermal performance, with a thermal conductivity coefficient between 0.038 and 0.043 W/m.K, and remarkable acoustic efficiency, capable of attenuating up to 41 dB of noise, while having a moisture absorption capacity of up to 15% of its weight.

  • Wood or coconut fiber, derived from wood, wood residues, or coconuts, are usually made into panels and also provide thermal and acoustic insulation for a building. These are bio-based materials and thus have a much lower carbon footprint.Wood fiber offers excellent thermal insulation, with a thermal conductivity coefficient between 0.037 and 0.049 W/m.K, and effective acoustic insulation over all frequency ranges. Coir, on the other hand, boasts a thermal conductivity of between 0.037 and 0.045 W/m.K and effective acoustic performance, particularly against impact and airborne noise.

  • Hemp wool is also an effective bio-based material for both types of insulation. Hemp wool offers good thermal performance, with a thermal conductivity coefficient of 0.04 to 0.046 W/m.K, and although denser panels such as wood or coconut wool are more efficient, its acoustic properties remain attractive.


How?


The application of these materials for thermal and acoustic insulation can be done in various ways, depending on the type of building and where insulation is needed. More, other

  • Wall insulation: insulation can be applied from the inside or outside. External insulation is more effective as it minimizes thermal bridges and optimizes the building's thermal inertia. Materials like cellulose wadding, wood or coconut fiber, or hemp can be used in the form of panels or rolls attached to the walls.

  • Roof insulation: insulation can be applied either between or above the rafters.

  • Floor insulation: insulation can be applied either above or below the floor. The former option is more effective as it minimizes heat loss through the floor.


In conclusion, considering thermal and acoustic insulation together allows for the construction of more frugal and resilient buildings. The materials exist in various forms and are suitable for different applications, whether in construction or renovation.


Do you have a building insulation project? Don't hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment now and find the solutions most suited to your needs!


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