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Natural insulation can also replace more toxic and environmentally unfriendly methods such as fibreglass.

Flat-topped structures are ideal for green roofs. These roofs have a layer of soil on top, which can support vegetation and smaller wildlife in the form of insects, birds etc.

Developed in Germany during the 1960s it is estimated that green roofs can be found on 10% of the nation's buildings.

Natural materials can also be used to internally insulate a building. Wool is a sustainable and environmentally friendly material which also delivers high insulating properties. Wool has an R-value (resistance to heat flow, a measure of insulation) of 3.5 - 3.8 per square inch of material thickness.

This compares favourably to the 2.9-3.2 rating of fibreglass and can raise the temperature of a building by up to 5 degrees Celsius, compared to fibreglass.

Straw is also used as a cheap and effective low carbon insulator.

See also Earth & straw buildings >

Also Craft & traditional building materials index >

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