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Musings of an Energy Nerd

Books on Insulation and Energy-Efficient Building

Book Reviews: Alex Wilson’s new insulation guide and JLC’s new book about building superinsulated homes

Which insulation should I choose? A new downloadable report, The BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation Products and Practices, provides recommendations to architects and others struggling to understand the vast array of insulation products on the market.
Image Credit: BuildingGreen

Two new books that might interest green builders recently caught my eye: The BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation Products and Practices by Alex Wilson and The JLC Guide to Energy Efficiency by the editors of The Journal of Light Construction.

Full disclosure: I was a minor participant in the creation of both books. At Wilson’s request, I reviewed portions of his manuscript before publication and provided feedback. I also wrote several of the articles appearing in the JLC book.

Heat transfer basics

Alex Wilson’s book, Insulation: The BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation Products and Practices, is a short (83-page) electronic book that sells for $129. (BuildingGreen members can purchase the book at a $30 discount.)

Wilson’s downloadable report seems aimed at designers and architects rather than at builders or insulation contractors. The book includes no installation tips.

Wilson provides basic background information on the three modes of heat transfer, as well as solid information on R-value, U-factor, and air leakage. The guide also includes separate articles on many types of insulation, including batts, rigid foam boards, and spray foam products.

Much of the information in this guide is written for those who are interested in green construction; for example, there is detailed information on the possible environmental effects of phenol formaldehyde and halogenated flame retardants.

A few quotes will provide a sense of the topics featured in this guide:

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  1. user-723121 | | #1

    Hooray for new building efficiency books
    These new books are good news, it is kind of sad when someone seeking information on superinsulation techniques must try to find a copy of a 30 year old book. Cell phone technology moves at the speed of light, building efficiency advancements, a snails pace would be generous.

  2. wjrobinson | | #2

    JLC book is a good reference.
    JLC book is a good reference. My copy was shipped to me on day one of release, thank you JLC and Martin along with the rest of the contributors.

    A comment as to the need for installation information. Sorely lacking on jobsites and plans is the exact install methods, the do's and especially the don'ts. I am a pilot. All pilots have in common one thing. Checklists. Checklists for everything and every situation. From short field procedures to engine out, to preflight.

    JLC has the field guides which I have and are a good start. Internet access is for me my other source. Break over, back at it...

  3. gusfhb | | #3

    I bought a book on green roofs [green roof systems] and it has very similar issues. There are books all breezy and non technical[lots of color pictures] and books with lots of technical info, but no practical information. I guess those who write and have practical field experience are rare.

    [edit] was referring to Wilson's insulation book

  4. Tristan Roberts | | #4

    reference tables
    I am biased since I helped pull it together, but on a practical level, Keith and Martin, the reference tables at the end of Alex's book are worth the price of admission, in my opinion. The information on R-values, vapor permeability, cost per R-19 installed, and more can't be found elsewhere in one place.

  5. uFtLXYTusr | | #5

    Alex Wilsons Building Green Guide to Insulation Products and Pra
    $129.00 price? Am I missing something?

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