STEICO Wood Fibre Insulation Systems
STEICO – The group for green building products and leader in wood fibre insulation products.
The STEICO success story began in 1986 with the founding of Steinmann & Co. GmbH. From humble beginnings as a small timber importer, STEICO has evolved into the world leader of wood fibre insulation materials.
STEICO HQ is situated in a state of the art building outside Munich. Showcasing the company’s products, it fully illustrates the comfortable working environment made possible by intelligent use of wood fibre insulation.
Here, they manages all aspects of sales, marketing, technical research and development functions.
Production takes place at two plants in Poland and one in France. Sales offices are also located in France and Great Britain and the Group increasingly sells globally. Company structure is very lean, flexible and efficient ensuring excellent customer service and fast response times.
STEICO group is particularly known for its environmentally friendly wood fibre insulation materials. However, there has also been a large investment and growth in wood based structural building products in more recent years.
A €60 m investment for both Laminated Veneer Lumber production facilities and additional wood fibre insulation production has been announced. Both new facilities will be developed at the group’s Czarna Woda site in Poland.
All STEICO products are manufactured in modern facilities using advanced technologies. Combine this with decades of know-how to offer new possibilities in the production of innovative, ecological and economical building materials.
Manufactured products are certified under the banner of the FSC or PEFC. This shows full chain of custody to guarantee the commitment for producing environmentally friendly and ecological products.
STEICO products meet the requirements of all relevant European standards and building regulations. Some also carry the prestigious IBR (Institut für Baubiologie) mark.
Independent third party testing ensures strict compliance of the products with the relevant building approvals. All factories operate under a certified quality management system according to ISO 9001:2008. Therefore ensuring consistently high product quality during manufacture.
STEICO also works closely with its extensive supply chain to provide local expertise with onsite and after sales support.
They may be a relatively new name to many however its products have been sold in the UK for over 26 years. In 2006 the first STEICO owned UK office was set up in Dartford, Kent. This initially low key operation has now developed into a major supplier of structural timber and wood fibre insulation products.
The UK product range is truly unique and offers truly sustainable and future proof building solutions. This is backed by the highest level of expertise, product development and experience.
Major new investments and increasing demand for healthy homes and work places means the future for STEICO looks good. In the UK demand for housing, timber frame structures and roofs will intensify. STEICO has the capacity, knowledge and quality structural products to be an excellent long term supply partner and provider.
Increasing ecological awareness and the urgent need to renovate an aged housing stock will also play its part in driving UK sales of wood fibre based insulation into the main stream.
Today, STEICO can truly be classed as a brand synonymous with quality, service excellence and ambition – driving an increasing portfolio of future-proof products and solutions.
A very good company to partner with, long term.
Wood has been used as a building material in various forms since ancient times; from the wooden poles of nomadic tents to the cross laminated timber construction methods of new developments.
In the winter, wood fibre insulating materials provide a comfortable climate. With wood fibre insulation materials it is easy to achieve low energy and passive house standards.
Timber insulations help to control the internal environment of buildings. They keep cold out, buffer external heat, regulate moisture content and actively help to promote breathable and healthy structures.
In a well insulated house the interior temperature of walls and furnishings automatically increases. This effect is immediately noticeable:
- Improved well-being: Evenly warm walls deliver more radiant heat. Because people find radiant heat particularly pleasant, it is frequently possible to lower the actual ambient temperature without reducing the internal comfort. This leads to the positive side effect that reducing the ambient temperature by one degree means approximately a 5% energy cost saving.
- Effective protection against mould: The humidity in the air will only condense on a cold wall, by creating warm walls, this condensation is eliminated. Without damp patches mould is unable to grow. Mould is avoided from the outset.
- Less air movement: Draughts caused by convection can be unpleasant. At uninsulated, external walls the air cools down, falls to the ground and flows to the centre of the room where it warms up and ascends again. This does not occur with well insulated buildings. The cooling effect is reduced or eliminated. If the air is still, we do not feel these draughts and less dust is disturbed, providing positive side effects, particularly for allergy sufferers.
The main focus of insulation is to keep us warm. There’s no disputing that and it’s why the Building Regulations are primarily focused on U values. But what’s your insulation doing during the warmer periods? The answer is probably nothing.
What it should be doing is protecting the occupier from excessive heat.
We have all heard about how high temperatures can effect vulnerable groups in our society. With climate change leading to increasing temperature polarisation and with energy efficiency requirements in mind; the fabric of our buildings can protect people against this heat stress in a passive and natural way.
Using the right materials, such as wood fibre, effectively slows down the passage of heat through the building fabric and stops it heating up the internal climate. This process is called ‘heat decrement delay’ or ‘phase shifting’. The ideal ‘phase shift’ time is a minimum of 12 hours. This ensures that internal temperatures remain regulated and above all comfortable for the occupier.
Insulation should be chosen for its ‘all year round’ performance. Ideally they should have the ideal mix of:
- High density
- High specific heat capacity
- Low thermal conductivity
When specifying the external wall fabric, think ‘U value’ and ‘phase shift’.
From a healthy building perspective, there is no financially feasible way of creating spaces from which no sound escapes and inside which no sound from adjacent spaces can be perceived. Absolute silence is not desirable anyhow, rather the absence of nuisance noise while maintaining an acoustical connection to the environment.
In acoustics we distinguish between sound and noise. Sustained exposure to sources of noise in living and work environments is attributed to serious health implications.
Wood fibre offers excellent acoustic performance helping to protect against both air born and structure born sound transmission. Varying densities within the wall fabric ensure the best acoustic performance.
Wood burns! There is no denying this fact and it is partially valid for STEICO wood fibre insulating materials. However STEICO insulating materials exhibit some very positive behaviour in the event of fire:
- STEICO’s rigid insulation panels don’t need any fire protection additive. Their high density prevents them from burning. Only the flexible and air injected insulation include a natural fire protection additive. The product used is ammonium phosphate, a mineral salt produced from combining the elements phosphorus and nitrogen. Like all of our additives, ammonium phosphate is a natural and harmless product, which is frequently used in the food industry.
- In the event of a fire, a carbonisation layer quickly forms on the surface of the insulation board or mat . This carbonisation or charring acts to restrain the propagation of the fire and prevents the fast burning through of the STEICO product. Many conventional insulating materials are prone to melting and offer very limited fire protection. In combination with suitable finishes, fire-protection structures to F90 B (a fire would need 90 minutes in order to enter the construction) can be built with STEICO insulating materials.
- As an organic based material, STEICO insulating materials will not emit toxic gases in the event of fire, unlike many petrochemical based insulating materials. An important consideration for the fire services
In summary: Although wood can burn, it still offers the highest degree of fire protection.
Breathability is at the core of a healthy building. The fundamental functionality of the building material is its ability to cope with the adverse effects of moisture – often known as ‘permeability’ or ‘vapour open construction’
It rains in the UK: that we do know. In order to protect the occupier we create buildings focused on stopping the rain getting in. There’s nothing wrong with that but we also need to let moisture in the building get out. The warm air in a building is rich in moisture and it is this moisture that can create mould and condensation issues and be the cause of associated health problems.
The external side of buildings with a ‘fabric first ’approach’ is vapour open and ensures any moisture that does enter the structure can naturally migrate to the outside and evaporate away. The internal side of a wall or roof incorporates a vapour control layer which limits the amount of moisture that can enter the structure.
Wood fibre is hygroscopic and capillary active which enables the fabric to absorb redistribute and release moisture in a gaseous or liquid state; meaning that these materials can manage moisture effectively. This helps prevent condensation and thus mould growth and building damage.
In contrast, building materials that tend to stay moist will provide less thermal insulation and their surface temperatures will decrease.
Permeability, ventilation and airtightness are all principles of healthy, energy efficient building design, but they shouldn’t be confused. Whilst the benefits of vapour open construction have been discussed above; airtightness measures should also be considered.
When the appropriate materials and details are considered this won’t effect the permeability or hygroscopicity of the fabric; however, air tightness will inhibit warm moisture laden air finding it’s way into the fabric via convection and depositing it’s moisture via condensation.
Airtightness, therefore, is key for the purpose of both energy efficiency and protect against building degradation. Airtight building, however doesn’t mean stale air. We’re committed to encourage buildings practices that offer excellent levels of internal air quality and our materials support this.
Air tight and well insulated buildings mean that surface temperatures and comfort levels remain high, supporting good energy efficiency, meaning that the building can be well ventilated; either by natural (manual) or mechanical ventilation. Ventilation is key to maintaining good, life supporting, internal air. This means maintaining high level of O², evacuating CO² and other polluters of air quality which can accrue inside buildings.
Remember: ‘build air tight and ventilate right!’
A HEALTHY HOME
Recent figures suggest that we spend over 90% of our time indoors. Indoor air quality therefore has a major impact on our health and the multifaceted consequences regarding health and ecology should be taken into account.
People live increasingly busy and demanding lives. Our homes should be nourishing places and time spent at there should be restorative. Sadly, this is not always the case and increasingly we see evidence of poor internal climates with high carbon dioxide, high numbers of volatile organic compounds, mould and fungal exposure, electromagnetic fields, poorly balanced relative humidity and particulate matter which can be become suspended in the air column. These air quality polluting environmental toxins can have a significant impact on our health.
Homeowners who move into a healthy home consistently report a sense of well-being, vitality, and joy that had been previously unknown to them. There is no doubt about it. Creating a healthy living environment is always worth it. Any step you take to create a healthy living environment will benefit you and others in your immediate environment.