EPS Geofoam Vs Lightweight Cellular Concrete Geofill - Which is better in terms of embodied carbon?

I am trying to find which product is better in terms of embodied carbon - EPS Geofoam Vs Lightweight Cellular Concrete Geofill?

Good question! Insulation companies have been cleaning up their products by using non-HFC blowing agents (HFO). Believe the same might apply to structural foam.

Thanks to @anthony.pak 's excellent research and sharing


Thank you for sharing this. I was looking specifically for EPS geofoam (like - https://geofoamintl.com/most-frequently-asked-questions-about-eps-geofoam/) vs Light weight cellular concrete (like -https://www.cell-crete.com/divisions/lightweight-cellular-concrete/?gclid=CjwKCAjw0dKXBhBPEiwA2bmObasUvFQgGaixoYK-PPCjgCW7UGWp2N9s061oLyiDC_6P2xmq5Ko6bBoCWwIQAvD_BwE). I was able to locate that EPS insulation has lesser embodied footprint than light weight concrete ([Material Pyramid - https://materialepyramiden.dk/).
I could not find any direct comparison between these two materials.

I gotta say, the idea of putting foam in the ground doesn’t sit well with me. There are more environmental considerations beyond embodied carbon.


Foam is often used in areas where there are geometric differences (like big steps in the slab or slopes–and not always in the ground) and can be an alternative to concrete or gravel fill that is heavy and has consequences to the structure. Agree on the other impacts! May also be health impacts at source of manufacturing–would be interested if others have more info!

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I was able to locate following information from the manufacturer.

#7 Does using EPS geofoam have an environmental impact?

EPS geofoam is one of the most environmentally responsible building materials you can use in your construction project. No potentially harmful greenhouse gases are used in the manufacturing process and the product doesn’t emit greenhouse gases. It’s free of dyes, formaldehyde, chloroflure carbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorcarbons (HCFCs). EPS geofoam blocks are manufactured using primarily steam, and the water from the manufacturing process is collected and reused. The blocks can be manufactured using up to 10% of recycled materials and the product itself is 100% recyclable. And, since EPS geofoam blocks are a manufactured product, every time you use EPS geofoam in a project instead of a natural material such as rock or timber, you are helping to sustain the environment.

EPS geofoam blocks are so lightweight, less fuel is consumed in transporting them to the jobsite. In addition, heavy machinery isn’t required for installation, so potentially less fuel is consumed on EPS geofoam projects. And, since using EPS geofoam can shorten construction time significantly, there’s less impact to the environment surrounding the project.

In addition, EPS geofoam is not biodegradable. It will not leach into the ground over time, adversely effecting soil and groundwater quality. That’s important, as more and more customers are looking for construction projects that use eco-friendly products.

EPS geofoam is a great thermal insulator and can help reduce energy consumption. Buildings constructed with EPS geofoam blocks can keep the building cooler in the hot summer months and warmer in the cold winter months, making the building more economical to maintain throughout the lifetime of the building.

So, EPS geofoam has a positive impact beginning with the manufacturing process, and continuing during transport to the job site, at the construction site, throughout the lifetime of the finished construction project and when it is recycled to produce new products.

If you are looking for below grade insulation that has structural properties - consider foam glass gravel!! 100% recycled glass, foamed in to gravel format.