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Hey Guys and Gals

So I'm new here and researching the idea of moving into a van full time. One of the values I want to follow for if I do a build is to use environmentally friendly products and materials for my new home. For materials purchased new and for things I can dumpster dive/repurpose. Insulation is the current topic I'm reading up on. There are some great discussions here and I've been reading through this sub-forum learning about the different schools of thought for Insulation. So I have two questions.

1. What type of insulation is environmentally friendly? Be it through how it is produced or through decomposition when its out of use. Are any of these options good or is there just a major trade-off versus traditional insulation?

2. What insulation do you use or you would suggest? How happy are you with it?

I am currently working and saving money that would go towards my build. So I could allocate more funds towards a better product if its worth the cost increase. Just trying to get a feel for what product has the best results and if there are green products that match those results.

Thanks!
Hmm can't seem to find the edit button. Anyways feel like I should mention for the time being I will be based out of Tennessee. Overall I'm more worried about our summers with high heat and humidity rather than really worrying about the cold. I prefer to be cool over being hot. For being cold I can think of a lot more ways to address the temperature (propane heater, extra clothes) than to deal with the heat (air conditioner = wasting gas).

I also don't quite understand the whole air-gap principle. Now this is something I can research and ascertain myself, but if you happen to be posting and can give me an explanation that would be nice. No rush for that though. I prefer to learn about things rather than just ask stupid questions.
Thanks for the insight.
Problem is, most anything that is truly 'green' will be organic, and thus able to decompose safely. This means it would be more likely to begin this process in you vehicle's walls, especially if you have an undetected leak r high humidity causing condensation. Can you say "mold"......?
The better working insulation tends to be the least 'green'. Just a fact of life. But it is good if it could perhaps be repurposed if later you want to put the van back to utilitarian use and strip the insulation out.
I have seen van dwellers reuse old Styrofoam panels.
I hear hemp insulation is ecologically sound. http://www.ecologicalbuildingsystems.com...ermo-hemp/

Then if you get bored, they do say the fire retardant they use is non toxic... Cool

Chip
I have been really interested in this topic also. Living in Oregon with so many sheep, wool insulation is a bit more in the consciousness. I've also seen wool insulation mentioned in van builds in the UK and Europe and in tiny houses here. I've yet to find anyone in the states that has posted about using wool insulation in their van build.

As I'm currently getting ready to install insulation in my van perhaps I'll make a door panel a test case. It would be easy to look and see if mold was developing. I've had woolen felted scraps placed in my window frames in my room just to see how they respond to the temperature changes.

I too, am more worried about heat than keeping warm in the cooler times. Even mild heat that others enjoy just deflates me. Plus I will have animals in my van with me so the heat factor is really important for their wellbeing. I don't have to worry so much about humidity here locally, although I've lived in areas that had humid summers so I'm aware how much humidity adds to the heat factor (think its called the heat index.)

My plan is this:
a) to paint my dark blue van's roof white,
b) use lots of ventilation (research ventilation & Sternwake on this site for great discussions and learning threads),
c) parking in shade in morning & afternoon(easy to do in PNW + I'm not installing solar right away),
d) using foil backed poly-iso for insulation

Although the poly-iso may not be environmentally friendly it has a top r-value. Truthfully, with only research and no real world experience, I expect items a-c to have a greater impact on staying cool than the insulation. Insulation in the summer works against you unless you have an ac you're running and trying to keep the much cooler than ambient air temperatures in. It retains whatever heat does come in for longer making it slower to cool off when temps fall in the evening. This effect can be greatly mitigated by good ventilation- bringing cooler air in and expelling warmer air.

But back to environmentally friendly insulation. I would research wool insulation. Good luck and have fun researching. I enjoyed reading and viewing others builds and ascertaining why they made the decisions they made until I came up with my own list of must haves and negotiables. Some things changed once I got my van too. Things will probably change once I live in it a while. That's life. Enjoy the process. It can be overwhelming but can be fun also.
Personally I think your fighting a loosing battle worrying about how "green" it is. This is product that has to do it's job well and last! I don't think there is a form of insulation you can use that would be called environmentally good. I used a Styrofoam based board with foil on one side, happy with it, But I tell ya what, if you put that stuff out in the open it's gonna stay there for years!.

I'm not against "green" but more importantly is the product going to do what I need?
I also try to be green, bu this is one time where you just have to swallow the up-front cost to the earth in order to regain it over it's life-time.

The one insulation I know of that is truly green is the shredded-treated newspaper that is blown into roofs and ceilings. It's great stuff because it's all recycled newspaper and it does a tremendous job in attics. We once blew in about 8 inches of it and we saved an incredible amount of propane from heat every winter.

But I don't think there is any practical way to use it in a van. It would settle in the walls and lose its R-value. And I don't think you can lose enough space in the headliner to do you any good.

In your situation where you are concerned with heat and not cold, I would just use Reflectix and nothing else. There has to be at least a 3/4 inch air gap between the metal walls of the van and the Reflectix. It doesn't matter on the inside of the van, just so it doesn't get closer than 3/4 of an inch to the sheet-metal of the van walls and roof.

That will keep the heat out during the day but cool off nicely at night. If you put in something like Polyiso, it won't cool down at night.

My advice would be different if you were equally concerned with cold--then I would use Polyiso sheets on the walls.
Bob
My green solution is to start with a window or conversion van that already has finished floors, walls, and ceilings, and keeping them that way.

Most of my furnishings and equipment are refurbished or repurposed from thrift stores or yard sales.

I think that's about as green as you can get.
Thanks everyone for your insight. I was thinking I would probably have to bite the bullet on this part of the build not being anything environmentally friendly per-se. With such a small space anything that would happen to be "green" would not work properly. Being as my main concern is hotter climates I think I will take Bob's suggestion of simply using reflectix with the proper air gap. I will probably mount the reflectix onto luan panels or whatever median I end up choosing for the inside of the van. From what I gather the two best insulation products (for van/rv purposes) seem to be reflectix and Polyiso foam. Thanks for the help guys.
(02-23-2015, 12:41 PM)akrvbob Wrote: [ -> ]The one insulation I know of that is truly green is the shredded-treated newspaper that is blown into roofs and ceilings. It's great stuff because it's all recycled newspaper and it does a tremendous job in attics. We once blew in about 8 inches of it and we saved an incredible amount of propane from heat every winter.

But I don't think there is any practical way to use it in a van. It would settle in the walls and lose its R-value. And I don't think you can lose enough space in the headliner to do you any good.

Cellulose insul contains borax and aluminum sulfate which is corrosive, especially when wet....and it sucks water like a sponge.
Just another reason to not consider it.

I'm in bite the bullet camp, use foil face, or polystyro.....preferably recycled.
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