CORDIS - EU research results

SBskin. Smart Building skin

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SBskin (SBskin. Smart Building skin)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2015-10-31

Buildings are responsible of 40% of world’s energy consumptions and of huge amounts of environmentally noxious emissions in the atmosphere, more than transportation and manufacturing sectors. The basic need that SBskin plans to fulfil is to reduce buildings harmful CO2 emissions, through novel solutions of high aesthetical and technological quality that are able to improve buildings energy performance and to produce renewable energy at reasonable costs.
The solutions designed by SBskin are precast, dry-assembled and prestressed glass block panels for the construction of energy efficient and sustainable building envelopes that can be made of:
- Standard glass blocks, already existing in the market - GBpanel;
- High-insulating glass blocks modified through a plastic thermal belt - ThermoGBpanel;
- Photovoltaic glass blocks, integrated with 3rd generation Dye-sensitized Solar Cells (DSC) - SolarGBpanel;
- Photovoltaic high-insulating glass blocks, integrated with DSC and modified through a plastic thermal belt - ThermoSolarGBpanel;
- Photovoltaic and Luminous LED-integrated glass blocks - LightSolarGBpanel
SBskin’s panels are provided with a patented dry assembly system occurring by means of profiles in recycled plastic where steel bars and, when needed, electric connections are integrated. The panels are prestressed in order to reach high rates of mechanical resistance, enabling outdoor installation even in high-rise buildings. Furthermore, SBskin’s assembly system reduces times and costs of installation and also enables the construction of almost uninterrupted glazed surfaces with only 2-mm joints between the glass blocks. SBskin’s solutions not only reduce the energy consumptions but also transform the sunlight into active energy for the buildings, complying with both EU and worldwide directives in the challenge of global warming. Unlike existing photovoltaic solutions for building integration, SBskin’s solar products are highly customizable in colour, transparency and design to adapt to customers’ needs and architectural vision. SBskin will closely cooperate with architects and building owners to propose a large building plan appealingly incorporating SBskin’s products as a building façade.
SBskin’s main revenues will come from the sales of the products and from international licensing activities. The products will be manufactured by assembling outsourced subcomponents, through a half-automatized process that is necessary to reach the estimated volume of production. The potential market for SBskin is the one where the high technology and energy efficient solutions for building envelopes are being sought. In particular, it is the intersection between the market of innovative multifunctional photovoltaic products for building integration and the glass block market. The building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) market is projected to reach 1,152.3 MW (annual installations) globally by 2019 from a base of 343.1 MW in 2012.
The work done during the six months of the feasibility study has been carried out according to the actions described in WP of the implementation plan. Such actions included: a market and user involvement study; an analysis of potential partners to involve into the development of the business project and eventually in a Phase II proposal; a revision of the IPR portfolio status and freedom to operate analysis and potential alternative diagnostic methods; a financial plan; a risk analysis plan.
The objectives were identified in:
- a market validation of the innovation project;
- the assessment of technological/industrial feasibility and economic viability of the innovation project;
- the setting up of strategic partnerships with supply and manufacturing companies for the development of SBskin business and possible application to Phase 2;
- the assessment of the risks associated;
- a strategy for future intellectual property management.
As a result of the activities done the company reached to the conclusion that the project will be further pursued together with the identified partner companies through a Phase 2 proposal up to the industrialization of the product. The main result achieved was a comprehensive business plan which has been integrated in the Technical report.
When most of the people think about renewable energy sources and buildings, they often refer to something that is added at a later stage and not fully integrated with the building, and in most of cases the general perception of photovoltaic (PV) is not exactly of an aesthetically attractive technology to be used in our cities. For these reasons, BIPV market is coming up with multifunctional solutions, where PV modules become technical elements of the building envelope. This also meets the need of differentiation of the PV market, struggling towards customization and specialization of the products in order to respond to the stronger and stronger competition coming, e.g. from China.
SBskin aims to address the needs of:
- Reducing energy consumptions of buildings from non-renewable sources, at sustainable costs;
- Optimizing energy performance of buildings, also through the improvement of building envelope products for their use in any climate area;
- Providing new solutions for Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV), in line with PV market trends - that are more and more oriented towards products diversification - through novel multifunctional solutions with architectural value;
- Promoting 3rd generation PV technologies, DSC (Dye-sensitized Solar Cells) and OPV (Organic PhotoVoltaics), and in the near future PSC (Perovskite Solar Cells), able to overcome the limits of first generations PV panels, but that up to today did not find widespread applicability;
- Provide different choices to building designers and owners on new ways to reduce building energy consumption and produce renewable energy.
SBSkin’s products arise from the scientific activity carried out for some years by the research team at the Department of Architecture of the University of Palermo and aimed at the performance optimization of the light-capturing elements of building envelopes, in order to use them for the construction of sustainable and translucent building envelopes, even in temperate and hot climate contexts2. This work led to the design and technological definition of translucent glass block components that are precast, dry-assembled and prestressed, enabling outdoor installation even in high-rise buildings.
The company will develop and commercialize three product lines:
- “Energy”: translucent, prestressed, and dry-assembled panel made of:
- Standard glass blocks, for outside installations – GBpanel;
- High-insulating glass blocks modified through a plastic thermal belt (ThermoGB), for outside installations - ThermoGBpanel;
- “Solar”: translucent, prestressed, and dry-assembled multifunctional PV component made of:
- DSC-integrated glass blocks (SolarGB), for outside installations - SolarGBpanel;
- DSC-integrated glass blocks, also modified through a plastic thermal belt (ThermoSolarGB), for outside installations - ThermoSolarGBpanel.
In order to fully exert their potential of producing solar energy efficiently, SBskin’s PV-Integrated glass blocks need to be primarily used for the façades or the roofs of large buildings such as office/commercial buildings or condominiums. Being this the initial focus of the company, its final customers are building owners and real estate developers who are not only the planners of building but also its owners. So as to provide attractive proposals to them, one of the most important things for SBskin is to create a robust relationship with those (Decision Makers & Influencers) able to participate in the planning phase in which overall outline is designed and the decision of employing SBskin’s product is made. Such influencers for SBskin are prominent architects and real estate developers. Besides, contractors need to be informed about how to deal with our products.
By approaching and communicating with these influencers, the advantages and the innovative elements of SBskin’s products compared to other products or materials for exterior wall will be explained, in order to motivate them to incorporate SBskin’s products into the planning of their next proposals. In order to leverage the Italian origin of SBskin connections with Italian architects and real estate developers have already been developed and first pilot sites have been individuated. At the same time, while cooperating with them mainly in Italy, SBskin will approach other global partners, starting from the advanced countries in terms of solar energy generation, such as Germany, Spain, France, USA, Japan and China as well as high potential countries such as United Arab Emirates.
Image showing the products of SBskin