Question

What type of "green" wall insulation could I use in a small wooden cabin that could potentially get wet because it's in a flood zone?

Asked by Peter O'Brien
Coppell, TX

I am helping friends design a small summer cottage and the land lies in a flood zone. In general I'd like to know of any green building techniques/materials that would also resist the onslaught of water (quick-drying, etc.; no lasting damage). I was thinking of simple wood frame construction but am worried that if it gets soaked, the wood will expand and cause damage (windows may be especially vulnerable to dimension changes...).

Answer

Anthony Addesso

Answered by Anthony Addesso

Hawthorne, NJ

Addesso Architecture

August 20, 2010

If the structure is in a flood zone, raising the living level above the expected water line is your best defense.

  • The best thing to do is to design the cabin to keep the water out of the structure completely.
  • If that is not possible, you will have to change many of the materials that would come to mind, if water infiltration is a concern.

Wood framing would most likely be a problem.

  • Steel framing or masonry would give you a higher resistance to water damage.
  • Spray-foam insulation is very resistant to water, unlike fiberglass or mineral fiber, etc. Home foam insulation is very green and very energy efficient, with some products now being bio-based.

Unfortunately, interior finishes such a gypsum board are always vulnerable to any water entering the structure.

Do you have a question about greening your home? GreenHomeGuide invites you to Ask A Pro. Let our network of experienced green building professionals – architects, designers, contractors, electricians, energy experts, landscapers, tile & stone specialists, and more – help you find the right solution.