Green Insulation: spray foam or dense packed cellulose?

We are remodeling our house this summer and trying to make it as green as practically possible. One of the big decisions we need to make is what insulation to use. I think I\'ve narrowed it down to spray foam or dense packed cellulose insulation. Does anyone have any recommendations on these? Am I leaving something out?
-Megan A., Atlanta, GA

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Answers

This is another question that has attracted a lot of interest in recent years. The answer depends on what you mean by "better." Dense packed cellulose often has a slightly higher R value (the measure of how well a material performs at blocking heat flow) than open cell spray foam. Closed cell spray foam has an R value well above both dense packed cellulose and open cell spray foam. When it comes to the sustainability of the material itself, cellulose will break down much more easily than spray foam. It can also have more potential to be converted/recycled to other uses. Other variables that can come into play are how the material responds to fire, moisture and pests. Many of these factors have varying degrees of significance depending on your location. Consult with a local green insulation contractor to see which insulation material is best for your application.
-Kevin T., St. Louis, MO