Fiberglass Wool Insulation for PEBs and Metal Roofs

Fiberglass Wool Insulation for PEBs and Metal Roofs
Pre-Engineered Building (PEB) Systems are a complete package of low rise steel buildings manufactured and delivered to the site by a single supplier. The package comprises of rigid structural steel, cladding system and building accessories. Though the concept is simple, PEBs are extremely diversified in their usage and uniqueness in each design. The PEB concept has gained widespread popularity in the last few years as a result of the speed and simplicity with which such buildings can be erected. In addition, many traditionally designed industrial buildings are also now opting for metal roofing.

A critical and necessary ingredient in the PEB System is thermal and acoustic insulation. This is necessary to minimize heat gain (or energy loss, for an air conditioned building) as well as to provide acoustic insulation from heavy rain and other outside noises. In a typical PEB structure, the roof accounts for approx. 40 to 50% of total heat gain, while walls account for approx. 15 to 20% of heat gain.

Almost 100% of PEBs world-wide are insulated for the following reasons, which are addressed in further detail below:
  • Minimize heat gain
  • Maximize thermal comfort
  • Minimize energy loss, cooling load and operating cost for air conditioned buildings
  • Provide acoustic insulation
  • Prevent unwanted moisture condensation

Minimize heat gain and maximize thermal comfort

As MNCs have put up new facilities in India, they have insisted that the workplace meets internationally accepted norms. This is because of the increased awareness of harmful effects of thermal stress, the physiological effect of high temperature and humidity, and the harmful effect of noise on human health. As a result, architects and planners are paying more attention to this aspect in the last few years.

As per ISO:9241, a typical work place environment should have a temperature less than 23oC and noise level less than 60 dB(A). Depending on process/product, human activities and the number of occupants, the work place temperature varies. It is impossible to achieve thermal or acoustic comfort inside a pre engineered metal building which does not have centralized air conditioned system, without adequate insulation. Minimization of heat gain is also very important from medical point of view as heat stress not only reduces productivity but also aggravates heart problems.

By using fiberglass wool as underdeck insulation, heat transmittance through the roof and walls is reduced substantially. Sufficient temperature drop occurs across the roof and wall system, resulting in lower temperature and a comfortable workplace environment.

Minimize Energy Loss

If the PEB is centrally air conditioned, a project owner can reduce the capital as well as operating cost of chiller, motor and AHU by providing adequate thermal insulation. Thermal insulation having sufficiently high thermal resistance(R value) should be installed on roof and walls. Air conditioning load can be reduced substantially and hence one can save scarce fuel energy/electric energy. This is the reason why it is called the product for sustainable development.

Acoustic Benefit

A noisy workplace reduces working efficiency, concentration, and negatively impacts overall performance. Consider the noise inside a PEB shed without insulation which is bombarded with heavy drops of rain or hail which occurs during monsoons every year. Mumbai recorded highest rain fall 39 mm/hr for 24 hrs. With that sort of rain the sound level of a 10m x 5m metal roof can reach 78 dB(A) which is roughly equivalent to the noise in major traffic on a road at 10 m distance on a continuous basis. To maintain acoustic privacy or keep sound level under the specified level i.e 55 dB(A), fibrous type insulation like Glasswool is the best choice.

Control on Condensation

Condensation should be strictly controlled in PEBs as structural metal in contact with condensed water droplets can corrode. To prevent moisture, proper insulation thickness and thermal resistance of the insulation is of utmost importance so that the surface temperature of the same does not go below the dew point temperature. Please note, using aluminum foil on its own as a vapor-retarder does NOT control condensation.

When selecting insulation for a Pre Engineered Building, the following criteria should be considered:
  • High thermal resistance or R value, for effective thermal insulation.
  • Ease of application, lightweight material to avoid need for support from expensive metal skin or welded mesh
  • Variety of aesthetic options/finishes, cost effective (total installed cost)
  • High NRC for effective acoustic insulation, fire safe properties and non-corrosive to steel
Fiberglass Wool meets the above requirements because of:
  • High Thermal Resistance (R value)
  • Recommended thermal resistance is R > 1.25 sq m 0C/W to get effective temperature drop across the wall and the roof
  • The final roof or wall composite should have thermal conductance value, U as low as 0.35 to 0.7 W/m2oC.
  • Fiberglass wool insulation with a minimum density 16 kg/m3and 50 mm thickness is recommended for PEB insulation. The most widely specified density for metal roof insulation is 24 kg/m3in 50 mm thickness

Ease of Application

  • Fiber glass wool being soft, resilient and non-sticky, can be unrolled easily over the purlins
  • Flanges are provided for easy stapling to make an uninterrupted layer of glass wool
  • High variety of roll lengths can be provided (from 7.5 m to 30 m) to match building design and to minimize number of joins
  • Can be easily cut and fold to accommodate openings through insulation
  • Don't have any shot content which can be awkward during installation

Aesthetic Look

  • Fiberglass wool is available with various factory laminated and fire rated facing options, like Reinforced Aluminum Foil, High Strength Aluminum Foil or White Metallized Polypropylene (WMP-VR).
  • All the facings used by Twiga have undergone extensive testing across many different criteria (fire safety, bursting strength, tensile & transverse strength, ageing analysis etc) prior to being approved for use.
  • High Strength Aluminum Foil and WMP-VR can be installed without the need for wire mesh or weld mesh support, thereby saving money and improving the finished look. Please note that this is only recommended when distance between purlins is less than 1.5M.

Cost Effectiveness

  • Since Fiberglass wool is lightweight, it does not require a costly second metal roofing skin for support. It can simply be installed under the metal roof or inside the side cladding, with or without weld mesh support (depending on the type of facing used).
  • Fiber glass wool being compressed, cost of inventory and transport are less.
  • Require less packaging - less scrap.
  • Cost of wire mesh can be eliminated by selecting right facing.

Acoustic Performance

Glasswool being fibrous and having an open air cell structure, is always preferred for its good noise reduction property and is almost exclusively used for acoustic insulation of multiplexes and sound studios. Its average range of NRC is 0.75 to 1.24. Glasswool can be used in internal partitions in addition to roof or wall.

Fire Safe Properties

Fiberglass Wool has the following fire ratings which are critical for PEB application.
  • Not easily ignitable: Conforms to Class P as per BS 476 part 5.
  • Non-combustible: As per BS 476 part 4.
  • Fire retardant: Class 1 as per BS 476 part 7/Class O as per BS 476 part 6 and 7.

Non Corrosive to Metal

Fiber glass wool being chemically very stable does not react with metal or any other matter under normal condition. Its pH value is very near to seven, so it is neither acidic nor basic in nature. Moreover, it is free from shots, sulphur and chlorides. It is non-hygroscopic, too. So the structural members are completely safe from corrosion.

MGS Architecture November December 2007

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