New Actis Hybris EPDs reveal insulation’s impressive cradle-to-grave carbon footprint

A series of new Environmental Product Declarations on the flagship insulation created by Actis shows that its cradle-to-grave environmental footprint is even more impressive than it was when the registration process was carried out four years ago.

This means its entire life cycle primary energy consumption, already only two fifths of that used by conventional rigid board insulation alternatives back in 2018, is now even kinder to the planet.

The EPDs, to EN 15804, were carried out on Actis’ honeycomb style Hybris insulation, the cornerstone of its wider Hybrid range which also includes insulating breather membranes and an insulating vapour control layer.

Key findings have been verified by France’s national reference database INIES, which hosts an easy-to-access database of environmental and health data on construction products and equipment. It, like the British BRE, is a member of the ECO platform which aims to make verified EPDs freely available at a European level.

These show that Hybris’ use of non-renewable primary energy resources is only 87% of the level used in 2018, while its global warming potential is just 82% of the previous figure.

In 2018 the primary energy use for 105mm Hybris was 111 MJ per sq m while now it is 96.1 MJ.

The volume of greenhouse gases used to produce a square metre of the product in 2018 was 2.93kg CO2, while in 2021 it was 2.39 kg CO2.

Actis UK and Ireland sales director Mark Cooper explained: “We installed a new manufacturing plant at our headquarters in South West France a couple of years ago which is more environmentally efficient. As production forms a major part of the cradle-to-grave process, making our production processes more efficient means the overall life cycle is kinder to the planet.”

The EPD, which looks at every stage of the process from production, transportation construction and use to recycling, highlights how Hybris’ small size and light weight means fewer CO2 emissions are created during the transportation stage.

The three 18-page documents go into granular detail on energy resource consumption, global warming potential, water consumption, air and water pollution, ozone layer depletion potential and materials available for recycling.

Other points raised in the EPD include its zero-waste policy, with onsite closed-loop recycling meaning all scraps can be regranulated and fed back into the next wave of production.

Although outside the scope of the Environmental Product Declaration, its thermal efficiency and user comfort were worthy of note, with the report’s author saying “Hybris is both lightweight and vertically rigid. It does not settle over time compared to heavier insulating materials. This is important for the long-term reduction of thermal bridges once the insulation has been installed. It has a positive impact on thermal comfort in winter by preventing cold wall effects and on the reduction of energy consumption by long-term insulating performance.”

The independently verified report also notes the product's ability to keep homes cool in summer as well as warm in winter.

“Through its reflective properties, the alveolar insulation contributes to very effective summer thermal insulation. Its reflective films reflect up to 95% of infra-red thermal radiation. This gain compensates the deterioration of thermal conductivity found in all insulation in summer to keep thermal conductivity in summer as good as that in winter.”

And Hybris achieved an A+ for air quality thanks to its neglible VOC emissions.

Architects can input the environmental criteria listed in the EPD into their BIM (Building Information Modelling) software along with EPD information of other specified products to calculate the overall embodied carbon footprint for their project.