While I congratulate AJ Focus and Nick Cullen on the relevance and timeliness of the Insulation and Energy Efficiency theme (AJ Focus, August 2004), I have serious concerns about the treatment of certain issues.
The Green Building Handbook (1997) is long since outdated, and the analysis is puerile in its simplicity in expecting to characterise the acceptability of an insulation material under four headings, particularly since issues as complex as product toxicity are dealt with in just three categories.
Notwithstanding this, product-based evaluations are limited in value because they do not take into account performance in the use-phase. Losses in thermal performance during the life cycle would typically have more effect on the overall climate performance of a product than the embodied energy taken to make it, but this is completely ignored.
Paul Ashford, principal consultant, Caleb Management Services