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CASE STUDY: SYLVACTIS WOOD FIBRE INSULATION
Architectural technologist goes back to nature to create thermally efficient dream home

An award winning Aberdeenshire architectural technologist who has spent the past 15 years building thermally efficient houses for other people has decided to use his skills to create a low carbon home in keeping with his country’s natural surroundings.

Ian MacDonald, who is building the home for his young family, has chosen to trial an eco friendly Actis wood fibre insulation, Sylvactis along with a multi foil insulation he has found very successful in client projects for the past decade and half – Triso Super 10+.
Ian’s decision to use Sylvactis follows extensive research into various insulation methods.

“I wanted a product that was environmentally friendly, provided excellent thermal and acoustic properties but was also easy to install. Sylvactis seemed to tick these boxes. Wood fibre insulation has a nice tie in with the woodland nature of Scotland and its moist climate and it should work extremely well.
“It’s the first time I’ve used it so I’m testing the water. It’s good to work with, easy to fit, holds itself in place between timbers and compresses well for the smaller gaps. I’ve used Triso extensively on builds over a number of years. In fact I believe I was one of the first to use it in the area. It’s a great product that pushes up levels of insulation.

“We are looking at a minimum B energy efficiency with the SAP calculations to date, but this will now be greatly improved with the inclusion of triple glazing and finalisation of the insulation spec.”

The detached five bedroom 300sq m timber frame house will have a number of other eco features too – striking the balance between thermal efficiency and a tight build budget. These include triple glazed windows, solar panels, a back boiler on the stove and wood pellet boiler.
Ian is adopting a hands on approach where possible – which includes installing the Sylvactis himself and working with local builders and craftsmen. In fact the only non local element (other than the French Sylvactis) is a set of patio doors supplied and installed by a Yorkshire company.
“After years of designing for clients it’s wonderful to be building a house for the family and myself. The main aim is to provide a comfortable home that our young family can grow into, that is energy efficient and sympathetic to its surroundings and that from a professional point of view I can be proud of.”

He is aiming to finish the project by mid to end 2013.

Ian’s practice recently won the top award at the Aberdeenshire Council Design awards for a new build home in Dess, taking distinction in all three categories it entered - workmanship, design and sustainability as well as winning the overall Ian Shepherd award.

Sylvactis has been developed to minimise its impact on the environment throughout its life cycle.

The product is made from 100% recycled sawmill offcuts from sustainably maintained forests. As a natural carbon sink, wood effectively helps combat global warming and once processed and installed retains this property throughout its life cycle. The dry process used to make the insulation helps minimise water and energy consumption and the products can be recycled at the end of their life – and if combusted can be used to generate further energy.

The low thermal conductivity of Sylvactis reduces heat losses in winter and thermal inertia, particularly appreciated in the sunnier climes of south west France where it is made, absorbs strong temperature variations and slows heat transfer through the walls.


For more information on Ian MacDonald’s practice visit www.mac.uk.net.

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