ThermaCork is a product line that features both standard grade cork insulation and facade cork. It's a superior choice for both applications, as it's not only 100% natural but has superior technical qualities.
What is Cork, Anyway?
Cork is a 100% natural, renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable product made from the outer bark of an oak tree, a species called Quercus suber. Cork trees grow primarily in the cork forests of the western Mediterranean, but over 55% of the world's cork production originates from the nationally protected forests of Portugal. In fact, the cork tree even serves as the Portuguese national symbol. One of the most versatile materials on Earth, cork can be used for a wide range of products. Though cork has existed over a century as a building material, the eco-sustainable wave has popularized its use further.
Cork Forests: Environmental Benefits
Cork forests are one of the last natural habitats, and host a wide range of indigenous - and even endangered - mammals, birds, and plant species. Cork forests are considered biodiversity hotspots, providing food, shelter, and feeding groups for a number of species. One of the most beneficial aspects of cork forests are their ability to reverse environmental damage. They protect soil from desertification by protecting against wind erosion and also serve as a natural fire barrier, reducing the risk of forest fires. A major benefit of cork forests is their ability to act as "carbon sinks", capturing greenhouse gases and CO2 in the atmosphere. In fact, cork forests in Portugal trap 4.8 million tons of CO2 emissions a year, roughly 5% of the country's emissions.
Cork Harvesting & Production: A 100% Eco-Friendly Process
The harvesting and production of cork is not only sustainable, but it also serves to provide employment and economic purpose for many communities. Cork harvesting is an ancient tradition, using the same method for thousands of years. It is done by hand for two months a year – June and July – when a skilled cork harvester splits off the bark of a cork oak tree without damaging the rest of the tree. Each tree can live between 150 and 250 years, and is harvested every nine years – at least 15 times during its life. No other tree can support and flourish from this process, and cork tree harvesting actually improves the tree’s health and vigor. Furthermore, more than 100,000 individuals in the Western Mediterranean and Northern Africa regions depend on the cork industry for their livelihood.
After harvesting, the removed bark is dried in the sun, and handled differently depending on its use. Expanded Insulation Cork Board is produced from the natural cork granules which are steam-heated, causing the cork to expand. This activates suberin, a natural binder, thus requiring no added binders or chemicals during the production of insulation cork. Facade Cork is made in the same way, though utilizes different, and slightly superior, parts of the cork product for a smooth and more attractive appearance. Throughout the production process of both products, absolutely nothing is wasted. All waste is returned to the production process, making cork harvesting and production one of the most sustainable business practices on the planet.