Letter to the Mayor on Environmentally-Friendly Insulation

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Dear Mayor Zard,

Greetings! I hope you are well. I am currently consulting with a client regarding an old house they recently purchased: a 1909 Craftsman four-square that has been flexed into four smaller, rentable segments, although there are only two people living there currently. While the homeowners are, naturally, pleased with the house, there are a few renovations they would like to see done. Namely, they would like new insulation installed. For this reason, among others, they requested a consultation, to which I agreed, and performed a quick walk-around of their house, and saw the insulation problem firsthand. The problem here is that, since the homeowner recently purchased the house, they do not have a great deal of disposable income to spend on these renovations. They are also interested in being environment-friendly with their selection of insulation, which is a consideration when deciding which insulation to buy. This is a problem because it is very difficult to provide the homeowner with a cost-effective buying solution while also providing them with a simultaneously environmentally-friendly solution. In order to appease the homeowner, either one or the other, or a little of both, must be sacrificed. It is also prudent to keep in mind that we must also uphold the mission statement of Emerald City, which is to strive to provide a cleaner, more environmental-friendly, and energy-conscious city. Lastly, there is also the problem of installing the insulation itself, as the old insulation must be removed, and doing this requires essentially a full gutting of the house, which is both time-consuming and expensive, which puts a great deal of stress on the homeowner. This report is to address this issue and explain some of the pros and cons of each choice, although no recommendations will be included in this report. The purpose of this report is to inform you about the current situation with this client and the options available to us.

Proposed Solutions

Option #1:

The first option is probably the most conventional: batts and rolls. What makes this solution so appealing is that it is probably the cheapest and, according to Mohamed Ali Abdelrahman, the most accessible and easy to install of the various insulation types (190). The insulation is simply installed between the studs, joists, and beams, meaning that few complicated tools are required. Lastly, it is fairly environmentally friendly, consisting of natural fibers and minerals, and the low cost and easy (relatively speaking) installation process ensures an environment-friendly experience. It has a reasonable ability to maintain the modern architectural design and integrity of the house, which makes it ideal for long-term use, and it is decently effective, leading to reasonable air conditioning and heating bills, which also makes it decently environment-friendly.

Option #2:

The second option, concrete block insulation, is a much more direct approach, and focuses more on the overall R-value of the insulation, rather than price. Concrete block insulation, according to Bruce Gantner, allows for the space inside of the rocks to be insulated as well, which leads to much more effective insulation: about ten times more than conventional concrete, in fact (Ganter 530). This solution can also be applied to virtually any housing situation, including new construction projects or major renovations, which would be the case with our current homeowners. The overall effectiveness of this insulation means that air conditioning and heating costs would be reduced by at least some margin, leading to more environmental-friendliness, while also helping to recoup some of the costs. According to Carl-Eric Hagentoft, this insulation type could also be applied to the floor of the house, around the foundation, in order to provide additional insulation, and help to keep the house even more efficient and environment-friendly. However, this insulation solution requires a much more specialized skill set in order to install effectively, meaning increased costs and time for the homeowners. This solution is also more expensive than more conventional insulation solutions.

Option #3:

Option three is loose-fill and blown-in. This solution is ideal because it can be installed relatively easily around existing house frames and the like, which is exactly what the homeowner wants. This solution is also effective for unfinished areas, such as the attic that the homeowner does not yet have insulation in, which they would like to add insulation to. In addition, it is fairly environmentally-friendly, being composed of minerals, cellulose, and fiberglass. While it is easy-to-install and fairly environment-friendly, it is a little more expensive than some of the other insulation methods, mainly because installing it requires a great deal of special equipment, according to John Hauser and Don Clausing (8-10). The loose-fill and blown-in style of insulation also has less of an effect on the overall structural integrity of the house, which is a plus.

Option #4:

The fourth and final option is the simple foamed-in method of insulation. This method is relatively simple and merely involves spraying foam into insulation spots. This method is desirable because it is relatively cost-effective and, according to P.O. Braun, moderately effective as an insulation solution (Braun 415-419). Foam can be used to help fill in certain other insulation areas, making it ideal for touch-up jobs. It is not, however, very environment-friendly, since it involves a large quantity of compressed foam, which contains CFCs, which are extremely harmful to the atmosphere. Nevertheless, it does satisfy the other requirements, which are that it be relatively affordable and easy to install.

I will relay these same findings to the homeowner and inform them of their options. If they are unsure, I will talk them through the process and recommend one of the insulation types myself. At present, I will recommend batts and rolls as it seems to be a fairly well-rounded option. I am very excited to relay these analyses to the homeowner to hear what they have to say on this matter. I will take their opinions into consideration, of course, and make sure I do my best to ensure they are happy. Once again, I would like to express how much I enjoy working as a part of this team. I take great pride in what I do, and this job allows me to utilize my skillsets in both Communications and Engineering in a fun, productive environment. Again, many thanks for providing me with this opportunity.

Sincerely,

Your Name

Works Cited

Abdelrahman, Mohamed Ali, and Aftab Ahmad. "Cost-effective use of thermal insulation in hot climates." Building and Environment 26.2 (1991): 189-194.

Braun, P. O., et al. "Transparent insulation of building facades—steps from research to commercial applications." Solar Energy 49.5 (1992): 413-427.

Gantner, Bruce A. "Respiratory hazard from removal of ceramic fiber insulation from high temperature industrial furnaces." The American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal 47.9 (1986): 530-534.

Hagentoft, Carl-Eric. "Temperature under a house with variable insulation." Building and Environment 23.3 (1988): 225-231.

Hauser, John R., and Don Clausing. "The house of quality." (1988). 8-10.