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Green Integrated Structural Elements for Retrofitting and New Construction of Buildings

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - GREEN INSTRUCT (Green Integrated Structural Elements for Retrofitting and New Construction of Buildings)

Période du rapport: 2019-04-01 au 2020-09-30

Europe is generating almost 850 million tonnes of Construction & Demolition waste (C&DW) annually, which is set to climb sharply in the future. The challenge of managing this waste renders significance to numerous EU developmental areas such as renewable energy, sustainable and smart cities, urban design, and climate change. In our project, we have set out to deliver a universal building block, with customization potential and unprecedented technical performance.

The basis of the Green INSTRUCT (GI hereafter) project started with very ambitious design requirements and assumptions. The GI panel was put through several rigorous iterative design cycles, during which the consortium has tweaked and improved the entire panel system. Through the continuous improvement of the design, we achieved the technical outcomes we initially set out to achieve. The success of the GI panel is the culmination of efforts from our consortium, who worked persistently in novel material design and production methods, state of the art numerical analysis and rigorous validation tests to achieve the thermal performance requirement set out in the grant agreement, namely the 0.14 W/m K. Also, sound insulation performance computational analyses verified that the final GI Panel design meets the sound insulation performance Rw target of 57 dB. The panel contains more than 70% per weight of CDW. The block is designed for easy and fast installation, being 30% lighter than conventional envelope walls of the same size. Installations during a project have been calculated to be 600% faster, and on a production stage, could reach 800%. Additionally, the GI building block is to contribute to on-site grey and stormwater management, through the integration of a vertical Green Wall, providing additional functionalities.
The durability of the proposed geopolymer matrix for the development of the structural layers shows satisfactory stability on repeated wetting/drying (Figure 1), and freezing/thawing (Figure 2). The sorptivity was evaluated to lay within the acceptable range of commercial cementitious materials. The water absorption tested in outdoor weather conditions showed that the reference and final product specimens exhibited a total mass variation of ±1.21% and ±1.02%, respectively. The geopolymer specimens of the final product exhibit excellent mechanical stability after performing of the durability tests. As it was observed the compressive strength of the geopolymers remained practically unaffected.

The sound absorption evaluation revealed only a modest sound absorption capability over the considered frequency spectrum.

MOC specimens subjected to four-point bending test (Figure 3) revealed limited crack formation due to their low ductility. The MOC reached a high average flexural strength of 11.12 MPa at 7 days, which is related with the great strength achieved by the MOC matrix. Meanwhile, the bonding between the PP fibre and matrix was also strong, which could be ascribed to the long fibre length, which increases the frictional bond, subsequently leading to the high flexural strength.

It was shown that the measured U-value at the UAVR facility confirmed the theoretical calculations. Additionally, and more relevant, the experimentally obtained U-value was in accordance with the U-value target of 0.14 W.°C-1.m-2. The experimental measurements retrieved a U-value of 0.138 W.°C-1.m-2. The thermal performance tests performed at both demo sites in Italy and Spain also validated that our GI panels matched our very ambitious design value (Figure 4). The GI panel far exceeds regulatory requirements imposed by both Spanish and Italian legislation, namely for renovated buildings.

The evaluation of the photocatalytic activity of the powders and the final coating has better photocatalytic activity in comparison with the activity of commercial photocatalytic paints. The coating also possesses strong antibacterial activity both under UV and visible light.

The fire resistance measurements for the entire GI panel concluded that after 60 minutes, there was no failure in the Integrity and thermal insulation criteria. Thus, the system is classified as E60 or EI60.

The results of the LCA revealed that the GI panel indicates a positive NPV, meaning that the projected earnings exceed the anticipated costs, warranting it worthwhile to invest in the panel. The Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) value assigned is positive, meaning the GI panel seems to be of high value in the social benefit. This means the GI panel generates lower emissions than the reference and provides higher gains of economic welfare. The LCSA had a very positive outcome when examining the five stakeholders’ categories for all the relevant social indicators of each category. Also, the “local community” stakeholder also benefited as the local employment is supported, the use of virgin resources is limited, and the safe and healthy living conditions are improving by the utilisation of the panel.

Regarding dissemination, the GI website gained 795 new users, and had 1,184 sessions. The audience was mainly from United Kingdom, Spain and United States. Also, the third project newsletter was released to inform the audience of the latest developments of the project as well as the latest events. Finally, an informative 5-min project video was recorded with the collaboration of the partners and uploaded to various social media channels.
The largest and the most significant impact that the outcomes of the Green INSTRUCT project can make is the realisation of a building block with more than 70% by weight construction demolition waste uptake that will ultimately contribute to a climate change resilient construction economy.

The project consortium has successfully designed and validated a building block that is made from a comprehensive and streamlined supply chain of construction and demolition waste materials that can be used for both new constructions and building retrofitting. The GI project has utilised the continuous manufacturing technology of extrusion to produce the individual panels of the building block and aluminium structural frame. If compared to regular brick and wall installations, the GI panel installation time during a project has been calculated to be approximately 600% faster, and on a production stage, could reach 800%. The building block also features a novel Green Wall which has a proven ability to treat up to 60 litres of greywater per day using 1.6m2 of the panel, which corresponds to the average greywater production of one person per day. It can also manage to sequester 500g/m2 of CO2 per year. Overall, introducing such a building block would significantly contribute to the resilience and sustainability of the construction sector in the UK and worldwide, as it would allow the industry to address the intrinsic CO2 emission.

The Green INSTRUCT project has allowed the creation of multiple PhD and Post-Doctorate positions for the investigation of the applied technology that has contributed towards bridging the fundamental science of the project with the industrial application. The PhD and Post-Doctorate positions have generated not only significant added value for the project but also maximised the chance for the outcomes of the project to make a real impact.
MOC four-point bending test
wetting/drying test results of Geopolymer
thermal performance validation results
freezing/thawing test results of Geopolymer