In November 2021, world changers and thought-leaders from across the globe gathered in Glasgow for the COP-26 summit. This event discussed key strategies for improving global climate conditions and outlined actions to be implemented in the immediate, short, and long term to tackle the climate crisis we are currently facing.
A key point of discussion that was highlighted at the summit was that buildings are a big contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, it was found that buildings (residential and commercial) account for 28% of global emissions. In the UK alone, buildings account for a staggering 42% of emissions .
It is no surprise then, that one of the key areas of sustainability that the UK plans to focus on is implementing energy efficient properties. There are several viable approaches to tackling this issue, but insulation is extremely effective. External wall insulation (EWI), specifically, is a non-disruptive and cost-effective method.
In this article, we will outline how investing in a high-performance EWI system can increase the energy efficiency of a building (commercial and residential) and reduces carbon emissions.
EWI and Sustainability
How, then, does EWI add to the overall sustainability of a building’s infrastructure?
External wall insulation usually comprises of a set of individual products that make up a complete insulation system. While many of these products are made from naturally occurring and environmentally conscious materials, their true sustainable power lies in their thermal capabilities.
EWI is a great way to reduce CO2 emissions through its thermal bridging and weathering capabilities .
Good quality EWI significantly limits thermal bridging through reducing the volume of heat that is allowed to escape through the walls. This ensures that heat is kept inside the building, and thus means that the property will require less gas or electric heating.
Quite simply, a well-insulated building contributes to a reduction in CO2 emissions through using less energy to heat it. Not only do energy saving properties reduce your carbon footprint, but they also cut down your energy bill – saving you money in the long run.
Therefore, EWI is a sustainable and energy efficient method of insulating a building.
Three Pillars of Sustainability
The UN outlines three separate, yet interlinked pillars of sustainability:
- Social factors. These are human factors such as health and wellbeing.
- Economic factors. These are financial factors such as employment and losses.
- Environmental factors. These are how something affects the external environment and natural surroundings. 
For a measure to be considered truly sustainable, it must positively impact each of these factors.
Fireproofing for sustainability
At first, fireproof insulation materials may not appear to be an important consideration for sustainability. However, fireproofing your residential or commercial project is one of the most sustainable things you can do to increase your positive impact on the environment.
A building fire can be extremely harmful to the environment. This is because it pumps out lots of damaging pollutant gasses and chemicals into the environment.
A building fire negatively impacts the three pillars of sustainability in the following ways:
- Social – In Europe, fires account for around 70,000 hospitalisations per year, and 4,000 fatalities. Fires influence long term healthcare requirements, families and financial loss.
- Economic – Losses due to fire include merchandise, infrastructure, documents and data.
- Environmental – Fire creates air pollution and releases nitrogen oxides. This has negative implications for water runoff. A study in England and Wales found that warehouse fires added 135,000 tonnes of Co2 to the atmosphere every year. 
One EWI Pro product that addresses each of these pillars is mineral wool insulation. Rockwool is a type of mineral wool insulation that tackles each of the above pillars through its highly non-combustible nature.
Rockwool mineral wool insulation achieves a Euroclass Fire Rating of A1. This is the highest possible fire rating awarded, meaning it is completely non-combustible and fireproof. It can withstand temperatures of up to 1,000oC, making it the perfect insulation material.
As such, investing in a highly non-combustible insulation material like Rockwool mineral wool will address each of these sustainability pillars, and in turn reduce your carbon footprint.
Find out more
At EWI Pro, we are proud to stock several highly fireproof insulation materials. Mineral wool is the most fireproof option, however Kingspan K5 also achieves a fire rating of Class B. Our range of construction boards also possess excellent fireproofing qualities. View our full range here.
 GHG percentage numbers from the European Commission, U.S. Energy Information Administration, UK Green Building Council
 External wall insulation specification for weathering and thermal bridge control, Guide, May 2019