Sheep’s wool insulation has been used as an insulation material in Europe for centuries, but here in North America it’s still seen as an alternative material. Havelock Wool is on a mission to take sheep’s wool insulation mainstream. 

 

Havelock wool

While most wool insulation uses waste wool that isn’t good enough for other uses (clothing, upholstery, home goods…) Havelock uses the full wool coat from Romney sheep raised in New Zealand.  The sheep are sheered twice yearly and the wool is shipped to the Reno, Nevada facility where it is processed into two types of insulation: batts and loose-fill.

 

Sheep’s wool has some unique properties that make it great building insulation:

  •  The kinks in the wool create pockets that help it trap air for excellent insulation
  • Its resiliency means that even when wet, its insulation properties aren’t affected. In fact, it can withstand 65% humidity without being negatively affected and will release excess moisture when the air is dry.
  • It’s pest resistant due to a mild boric acid treatment (8% by weight)
  • It’s mould and mildew resistant
  • It naturally binds with formaldehyde, toluene, Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, taking these harmful substances out of the air, improving indoor air quality
  • Its fire rating is Class A under the ASTM E84 standard testing methods for surface burning of building materials (This is a US rating. Wool does not have a fire rating in the Canadian National Building Code because it hasn’t been tested and the NBC only recognizes Canadian testing)
  • It has excellent acoustic dampening properties
  • Its R-value is 4.3 per inch
Embodied carbon: Wool sequesters carbon, similarly to wood and cotton products. In fact the wool industry touts that as a whole, it sequesters over 500,000T of carbon annually. Therefore wool is a carbon sink. The methane produced by the sheep is accounted for in the lifecycle analysis of lamb’s meat, since, generally, sheep are raised for their meat. 

Expected lifespan: Havelock wool insulation will last as long as the structure it’s in. At end of life it is completely biodegradable.

Warranty: There is a 50 year warranty on the insulation, providing it is installed properly.

Canadian challenge: As with all wool insulation, it’s important to find an engineer or architect willing to sign off on using wool insulation. Despite its benefits, it is not recognized in the Canadian or any provincial building code at this time. Without an engineer’s approval, it might be difficult to find a willing insurer. There is no problem using wool insulation in the US. You can read more about wool insulation in general in this post.

 

 

 

Havelock Wool Insulation Products:

Batt insulation

Batts are available in three thickness to increase the R-value per batt. All batts measure 15.5″ wide x 48″ length. For complete installation instructions, visit this page.

R7 – 2.0″ 125 square feet per bag

R 13 – 3.5″ 90 square feet per bag

R 20 – 5.5″ 60 square feet per bag

Approximate cost: C$189 per bag (prices are approximate and will vary by dealer and time).

Loose fill insulation

Loose fill insulation is great for attic spaces and other horizontal cavities, but it is also being used in vertical spaces as well. Installation with a blower is recommended, however, not a standard blower. Please see installation instructions for more details.

Coverage: There is a chart on this page that shows the different R-values attainable for 1000 square feet and the number of bags of insulation required. In a nutshell:

R-7: 6 bags of insulation, 1.5″ depth

R-30 26 bags of insulation 7″ depth

R-60 53 bags of insulation 14″ depth

Cost/25 lb bag (approximately): C$189

(Price will vary by dealer and time, please check with dealer for exact cost).

Partners:

Within Canada, Havelock insulation can be ordered through three dealers:

 

 

Living Rooms, Kingston, Ontario

A natural building and lifestyle store in Kingston, Ontario. It sells natural building materials that promote a healthy indoor environment.

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Small Planet Supply

A high-performance building supply store with three locations on the west coast: Vancouver, BC, Tumwater, WA and Eugene, OR. 

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Performance Haus

Building supply company based in Spruce Grove, Alberta, specializing in high-performance building materials. 

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Feature image and other Havelock images, courtesy of Havelock Wool Insulation

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