The most recent airing of Channel 4’s Grand Designs (17th September 2014) with Kevin McLeod saw Peter Berkin and his wife Chard build a highly efficient eco-home. The groundbreaking installation named the ‘Modern-Day Round House’ used only wool in the form of thermafleece as insulation. Peter said that Wool had a number of benefits, namely that it’s a totally natural product which is easy to work with and extremely cost effective. It also had the added benefit that Peter and Chard were able to install the insulation themselves, contributing to the overall saving of the project.
The vision for the spectacular property, developed in the bottom of the couple’s existing garden in Milton Keynes, Berkshire, was one of self-sufficiency in retirement and this was certainly achieved. To this end, Peter carried out extensive research on which technologies would be best to use to create such an eco-friendly development. Peter progressed with the best possible use of current and leading edge technology in heating, airtightness, ventilation and insulation of which wool came out on top as explained by Peter:
“The product is very nice to handle with no dust or nasty smells, warm and soft to the touch and very easy to staple into place between the wooden beams that we used to build the walls. We used three layers of 100mm each giving a total of 300mm of insulation. Needless to say the house does not need any heating – the heat of the sun is more than enough!”
The resulting design is a perfectly circular, timber framed building wrapped around a well-protected garden, resting on a highly insulated slab foundation.
As the ultimate natural renewable and biodegradable fibre, wool is a practical choice when considering construction materials, particularly insulation. It is also a supremely safe fibre thanks to its natural fire retardant properties. Compared to synthetic counterparts, wool burns a lot slower so is a safer material in the instance of a fire.
Using wool as an insulating material has many benefits and this is due to how the wool fibres are packed together. Millions of air pockets are formed which trap air and as a result ensure homes are kept warm during the winter and cool in the summer. One of the key advantages of using wool within the home is the unique material’s breathability and capability to absorb and release moisture from the surrounding air. Wool fibres also offer good resiliency ensuring the insulation retains its thickness and in turn efficiency.