New skins for leaky buildings

In the Italian city of Milan a major European research project is examining the energy efficiency of new insulation materials. It aims to assess the advantages and disadvantages of these materials, and establish how and where they can be used.

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Countries
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  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


This page was published on 03/02/2015
Published: 03/02/2015

  Infocentre

Published: 3 February 2015  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
EnergyRational energy use
EnvironmentUrban living
Industrial researchBuilding & construction  |  Materials & products
Success storiesIndustrial research
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Belgium  |  Czechia  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Italy  |  Poland  |  Spain  |  Switzerland  |  United Kingdom
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New skins for leaky buildings

Photo of a researcher in front of a refitted building
Video in QuickTime format:  ar  de  el  en  es  fa  fr  hu  it  pt  ru  tr  uk  (17.8 MB)

Around half Europe’s buildings were built before 1975. Some have architectural value, others less so, but many hide an ugly reality, as Emilio Pizzi, an architectural engineer at the Politecnico di Milano University, explained: “These buildings were built in a time when energy parameters like efficiency, consumption and emissions were not a top priority. So there’s a strong need to transform and update the thermal performances of Europe’s architectural heritage.”

“It’s time to innovate new systems, to retrofit these buildings with energy efficiency in mind,” he added.

The researchers have developed new insulation materials to make old buildings more energy efficient, in terms of their facades, wall cavities and interiors.

Karim Ghazi Wakili, a physicist with EMPA Research Institute, showed euronews three prototypes: “[The first} is insulation material made mainly out of three layers of polyester fibres. They are supposed to have the highest thermal insulation.

“The next material has only one layer of polyester fibers. And it has two textiles on both sides.

“And the third material is the cheapest one. It is made out of a material called ‘perlite’. It is thicker because perlite has higher thermal conductivity.”

Researchers have tested these materials in a building of the Politecnico de Milano University in Italy. It was built in 1965.

The inner walls of one room were covered with sensors and fitted with the three prototypes of insulation materials.

“The sensors measure temperature, humidity and heat flow at three different places; outside the building – that’s why we have sensors installed on the facade – in the cavity walls, and finally on the inner surface of the walls,” explained Gabriele Masera, a building engineer at Politecnico di Milano University.

“Outside sensors also measure radiation and wind speed. This way we are able to see how much heat leaks from the different materials in building. All the data will help us build a mathematical model that will allow us to understand how each material reacts to different climatic conditions.”

Magnetti Building in Milan, which makes re-fabricated kits for retrofitting exterior facades, is the kind of company the research aims at.

Insulation materials developed by researchers will be included in some of its kits, which can be customised.

Director of Operations Marco Predo believes the market is ready for such solutions, provided they come at a competitive price: “In recent years, we’ve seen data that seems to prove that the market for retrofitting facades and existing buildings is indeed on the rise. So we’re quite optimistic indeed about the market prospects for these new insulation materials”.

Researchers hope their new insulation solutions could become an affordable market reality in around four or five year.

Project details

  • Project acronym:EASEE
  • Participants:Italy (Coordinator), Greece, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Poland, UK, Belgium, Czech Republic
  • Project Reference N° 285540
  • Total cost: €7 607 111,09
  • EU contribution: €5 050 000
  • Duration:March 2012 - February 2016

See also

The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme.

Project web site

Project details

 

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See also

The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme.

Project web site

Project details

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