I’ve been in awe of the homes designed by GO Logic for a number of years and have included their houses in a number of of my books. They’ve been innovators in designing and constructing prefabricated homes in addition to extraordinarily vitality environment friendly ones – many Passive House licensed. Once I heard that Matthew O’Malia, G O Logic co-founder and principal architect was beginning a brand new insulation firm I used to be excited to listen to about it, since Matthew has all the time been on the slicing fringe of extremely environment friendly house design. I posed some inquiries to Matthew and listed below are his responses.
How did your coaching in Germany affect your design method as an architect?
My work expertise and postgraduate research in conceptual design in Frankfurt opened my eyes to the actual bedrock of sustainable development: considerate techniques working collectively to create constructed environments requiring little operational enter. Whereas nonetheless in Europe, I started fascinated about how, as an architect, I may apply this broader, long-term imaginative and prescient of effectivity to development in the US.
The beginning of this endeavor actually got here to life in 2008 when Alan Gibson and I based GO Logic on the coast of Maine, the place we started designing and developing buildings utilizing Passive Home requirements to information us. We discovered nice success incorporating steady insulation, air sealing, high-performance home windows and doorways to create constructing envelopes calling for very small heating and cooling hundreds.
We designed and constructed the primary Passive Home in Maine and expanded our attain all through New England and past.
How does a Passive Home architect change into the co-founder of GO Lab, Inc., an organization set to fabricate wooden fiber insulation?
By way of my expertise at GO Logic, I got here to comprehend insulation is a lot extra than simply R-value. Our builders complained of the itchy particles from mineral wool and fiberglass, they usually voiced issues about air high quality. Our jobsites produced non-recyclable scraps of froth that took up super house within the dumpster; foam microbeads and plastic mud from slicing board insulation all the time coated the bottom and the installers’ garments throughout and after utility.
And I grew extra involved about an ideological contradiction: We have been utilizing insulation merchandise closely derived from or reliant on fossil fuels to scale back the quantity of fossil gas required to function the buildings we have been designing. We have been decreasing operational vitality, however canceling that out through the use of insulations that have been excessive in embodied carbon. It appeared like a zero-sum sport, or worse, when it got here to wanting on the environmental impression related to development. I started on the lookout for different options.
In 2016, I partnered with Josh Henry, present GO Lab President. Josh holds a PhD in Bodily Chemistry and Supplies Science and has a deep background in advancing renewable vitality and vitality conservation applied sciences. Collectively, we found that wooden fiber insulation provided the excessive efficiency we desired, whereas checking all the opposite containers on our listing.
The largest downside with wooden fiber insulation was we couldn’t get it with out paying a big premium to cowl freight prices from Europe. There are 15 manufacturing crops throughout Europe supporting $700M in gross sales throughout the EU, however there may be at the moment no producer of wooden fiber unfastened fill, batt, or dry-process board in North America.
Josh and I started asking, “Why isn’t somebody manufacturing wooden fiber insulation domestically?” As we looked for the reply, we discovered that your entire product line could possibly be produced extra affordably right here than in Europe as a consequence of a lot decrease uncooked materials and vitality prices.
I bear in mind pondering, “Think about the impression of with the ability to present the mainstream development market an inexpensive, high-performance insulation product line not derived from or extremely depending on fossil fuels. Think about the potential for carbon sequestration within the U.S. housing market alone.”
So we got down to manufacture wooden fiber insulation for the primary time in North America beginning in 2022.
How do you see mainstream development within the U.S. accepting wooden fiber insulation?
Wooden fiber insulation has so many layers of profit, so many tales to inform. We knew we wanted to discover a good technique to bundle all of the messages for a broad viewers. We determined to leverage our model title, TimberHP, to ship the themes that resonate so loudly round wooden fiber insulation. Timber clearly defines the place our product begins: the huge forestlands of Maine. HP has three layers: Excessive Efficiency; Wholesome Folks; Wholesome Planet.
Excessive Efficiency—Happily for us, European producers, designers, and constructing scientists have perfected wooden fiber insulation techniques via 20 years of utility and innovation.
Wholesome Folks—With no toxins, dangerous particles, and wooden fiber’s means to handle humidity; we’ve got fairly a narrative to inform about secure set up and improved indoor air high quality.
Wholesome Planet—The carbon impression is the largest story to inform right here.
Impression investing continues to be an space drawing loads of consideration. Can wooden fiber insulation take away carbon from the environment on the degree of scale that may entice vital impression funding?
There isn’t a doubt in my thoughts that we are able to make that case. Wooden fiber insulation is exclusive. It’s comprised of timber and finally ends up storing the unique carbon that was locked away, sequestered if you’ll, in these authentic timber. Wooden fiber insulation additionally inhibits warmth loss, that means it saves operational vitality, at any time when and wherever it’s put in.
There’s a large quantity of current housing inventory that’s both solely uninsulated or in want of significant renovation. As a market alternative and a carbon mitigation alternative, it’s completely big! Simply retrofitting 10% of the present housing inventory within the U.S. to code-plus ranges, would sequester half a gigaton of carbon alone. And that’s simply the embedded carbon, not the operational carbon it would save lengthy into the longer term as nicely.
There’s no new science right here. There’s no battery that needs to be vetted. Everybody is aware of how you can do it. We have to have the need to do it. And if we’ve got the need to put in and substitute insulation, at scale, with wooden fiber; we’ll make fast progress on at present’s downside.