What are the financial- and carbon-optimal points for return on investment in insulation?Jamie Bull MSc ArchitectureAdvanced Environmental and Energy Studies
This thesis looks at the financial and carbon case for insulation. It examines whether it isworthwhile to continue lowering the elemental
-values demanded by BuildingRegulations in light of the diminishing returns found when increasing insulation thickness.Also examined are the relative effects that low and high embodied carbon (ECO
), andlower and higher conductivity forms of insulation have on lifetime emissions.An assessment is made of the value of different methods for encouraging greater levels of insulation such as grants or carbon trading/taxation.Life cycle emissions and financial costs of insulation are found from published data and a building estimator. Sources of projected costs for gas and the social cost of carbon areassessed and a central value for each is found. The energy use of a typical semi-detachedhouse is found by modelling in IES:VE. These data are then used as inputs for a computer model.Optimal points are found through the use of the purpose-built
Insulation Savings Model
(ISM). This allows calculation of both optimal points and payback times. These pointsare calculated for three different types of insulation; polyurethane foam, mineral wooland cellulose fibre, representing a range of ECO
and conductivity.Parameters representing carbon pricing and grant schemes are varied in order to discover the relationships between these factors and financially-optimal levels of insulation.Key results are that the carbon-optimal point is far beyond the financial-optimal point for all materials assessed. The carbon-optimal point is also beyond the requirements of Building Regulations. However the financially-optimal point (before accounting for co- benefits) is below Building Regulations. Therefore it is found that, at the margins, super-insulation is an expensive way of reducing lifetime CO
emissions.Greater return on investment in insulation will be found by focusing on refurbishment of existing, poorly-performing homes than on increases in new build regulation.Lifetime emissions savings are greater for a given
-value when looking at lower ECO
materials. However, they generally require a greater thickness of insulation.
insulation, optimal points, return on investment, embodied carbon, carbon pricing.