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Technical Working Papers about different types of thermal insulation as part of house improvements in Nepal, Pakistan and Tajikistan, based local development options. 

Basic Information on Thermal Insulation for High Altitude Housing in the Himalayas. with explanations of important factors related to thermal insulation in traditional houses. Technical Working Paper #1, Basics Thermal Insulation (January 2012), 38 pag., 3.5 MB 

Basic Information on the simple calculation method for Thermal Insulation for high altitude traditional house designs in the Himalayas of Pakistan and Tajikistan.  With a very detailed  calculation examples if thermal insulation values, condensation points inside the construction and thermal mass. Technical Working Paper #2 Calculations for Thermal Insulation (September 2012), 35 pages, 1.6MB with examples on how to fill in the forms for floors and walls. With extra chapter on thermal bridges.

Chapter 6 of TWP#2 on Heat Leakage Areas (Thermal Bridges), 5 pag. 1 MB

Separate form for making calculations of insulation value and construction cost.  Excel form sheet for tabulating calculations of the insulation of new constructions and easy comparison with the thermal insulation values of old constructions.

Detailed information on the different material characteristics of building materials including mass, thermal conductivity in dry, light moist and humid circumstances and their heat storage capacity.  Insulation values of vertical and horizontal air layers or cavities. Technical Working Paper #3 Tables for Thermal Insulation (February 2012), 25 pages, 1.5 MB.  With additional information on reflective foils and their insulation values for application in cavities.


The formula developed for the definition of the recommended minimum thermal insulation value for the Himalayan range is related to the altitude, since with increasing altitude the average winter temperature decreases and the firewood consumption increases.

Minimum recommendation for houses, roofs and walls: Rc= {0.5 + (altitude in meters/1000m)} m2.K/W.  The same value applies with floors that have ample ventilation below the construction.

Minimum recommendation for houses, floors without ventilation below: Rc=  1/2 {0.5 + (altitude in meters/1000m)} m2.K/W.

Minimum recommendation for houses, floors with light ventilation below: Rc=  3/4 {0.5 + (altitude in meters/1000m)} m2.K/W.

As an example a comparison is made for 21 FLOOR designs. The comparison looks at the differences of the added thermal insulation and relates this to the cost aspects. The thermal insulation requirements of the ground floor are 50% from the walls and roof, since the temperature difference (delta T) between inside and under the floor is less than the delta T between the roof or wall and the outside.
 HA-TWP#4, 21 Examples Floor Insulation (February 2012), 33 pages, 2.1 MB

In this Technical Working Paper #5,  comparisons are made for 34 different designs for ROOF insulation. This includes traditional roofs under GI sheet and reinforced concrete roofs.  HA-TWP #5, 34 Examples Roof Insulation (February 2012), 44 pages, 2.36 MB

Separate chapter 5 of TWP#2 on the difference between Inside and Outside Roof Insulation. 4 pages, 0.7 MB.

19 different WALL insulation constructions are compared on their thermal insulation value.  For each country and location (town or remote village) the cost aspects need to be recalculated. Comparing the solutions with the same insulation value with their cost gives an indication of the best efficiency of the design option.  HA- TWP #6, 19 Examples Wall Insulation, (February 2012), 1.25 MB, 26 pag.

Separate 3 graphs and tables with thermal insulation values for horizontal and vertical cavities inclusive those for reflective foils: 4 pag, colour, 385 kB  For the determination of the thermal insulation value of reflective foils with air space on the reflective side, the following document gives the insulation values for different foil positions.

Closing open holes in the roof of the traditional Pamir house gives over 50% energy saving.  The timber RHW was periodically improved from 1999-2011.  HA Technical Working Paper #7: Roof Hatch Window.  Development of the timber and plastic frame RHW in Pakistan and Tajikistan (March 2012) 26 pages, 2.3MB 

Research Report on the Roof Hatch Window since 1998 till 2000, 1.3 MB, 20 pages., with a description of the process of development of this product.

Plastic Waste Insulation. Re-Use of PET for High Altitude Houses. November 2004, 29 pages, 2.1 MB.  This paper has not been completed with the option for greenhouses since the concept was not field tested. Also, new developments with the application of reflective foils can make the thermal insulation with plastic waste more effective. The recycled value of the plastic material needs to be compared with the cost and insulation value of new thermal insulation material. The advantage of the use of plastic waste is less pollution of the environment and using a largely inert material which is not affected by insects.

Sketches from thermal insulation training document

Population increase demands annually more fuel, while also more grazing occurs by herds of goats and sheep, devouring all vegetation.  At the highest altitudes the local low-income population also burn heather-like bushes with their roots, and dried cow dung and yak dung cakes. The result is strong environmental degradation and soil erosion that prevents re-growth.  

Thermal insulation is one of the first priorities of high altitude houses. Heating in the winter period requires large amounts of fuel in addition to the large amounts of fuel needed for cooking. The annual volume of biomass growth is decreasing with increasing altitudes.   

The various papers analyse the current construction and the possibilities of improvements using local materials, skills and low-cost but effective solutions within the local socioeconomic context. Although other methods do exist, they are often not yet applicable or feasible considering these local context.

An earlier  document provides some information of techniques that were developed in the Pakistan Northern Areas (Himalayas) by the year 2000. Based on further studies the suggested minimum insulation value of this paper has been greatly increased by the year 2010, but are still only half of European values with similar climate conditions. This paper does not include the reflective foils, but gives examples of the first attempts to better insulation traditional houses under the given circumstances at that time.

Community leaders attending a briefing programme on thermal insulation in Murghab district, Tajikistan
Health care clinic manager who applied thermal insulation and saved 75% of his annual fuel costs.