Skip to main content

Development of innovative lightweight and highly insulating energy efficient components and associated enabling materials for cost-effective retrofitting and new construction of curtain wall facades

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EENSULATE (Development of innovative lightweight and highly insulating energy efficient components and associated enabling materials for cost-effective retrofitting and new construction of curtain wall facades)

Reporting period: 2018-02-01 to 2019-01-31

The project idea comes from the fact that thousands of buildings in Europe have been constructed in the recent decades using curtain walls, i.e. facade modules which span from floor to ceiling, consisting of a transparent (vision glazing) and an opaque (spandrel) component to help hide features between the floors of a building, including vents, wires, slab ends and mechanical equipment.
Unitized systems were developed as a prefabrication strategy, driven by the intent to minimize expensive site labor, and to improve quality as provided by manufacture under factory controlled conditions as opposed to the adverse conditions often presented by the building site. This building type represents a problematic component of the existing building stock. Improving energy consumption in the existing building stock requires the retrofitting of many, if not most, of these facades, responsible for up to 60% of energy losses through the envelope. This is a major concern because curtain wall technology has recently moved from office buildings to glazed residential towers within the urban context, where noise pollution is significant and growing. Replacement and retrofitting of curtain walls would allow an important enhancement in thermal performance which results variously in condensation, unwanted heat transfer, and general discomfort to occupants. In this framework, EENSULATE project has the aim of developing a solution for envelope insulation to bring existing curtain wall buildings to “nearly zero energy” standards, reducing energy bills by at least 20% while complying with the structural limits of the original building structure and national building codes.
A summary of the main achievement of the first 30 months of the project is reported below.
• Definition of the requirements and drivers for an appropriate development of the EENSULATE module in compliance with the current international regulations applied to curtain wall façade
• Assessment of existing quality certification and rating protocols as well as procurement practices, at component and system level, to derive specifications for the product development
• Preliminary market analysis to qualitatively assess the compliancy of the developed technology with the identified market drivers
• Development of highly insulating two components and mono-component and environmentally friendly foams for the cost-effective automated manufacturing and insulation of the opaque components of curtain walls as well as for the significant reduction of thermal bridges during installation.
• Development of innovative sealant and getter for the development of an innovative Vacuum Insulated Glass (VIG).
• Accomplishment of small scale VIG prototype (500x500mm) having enhanced thermal performances and definition of the manufacturing process
• Development and refinement of the EENSULATE module design
• Definition of the retrofitting intervention areas in 4 demonstration buildings located in two different climates (Italy and Poland). In particular, the 4 demonstrators of the project are the Public Library San Giovanni (Pesaro, Italy), the School Building and the City Museum in Dzierżoniów (Poland), a company headquarter in Italy. As it can be seen, two out of four demonstrators are historical buildings.
• Definition of the demonstrator monitoring strategy
Furthermore, an Initial Exploitation Plan as well as specific business models have been defined in order to identify the commercial perspectives of the project solutions. Special attention was paid in the definition of the IPR protection strategy as well as in the knowledge dissemination and management. Communication and dissemination activities have been performed in order to give visibility to the project outcomes (project website , logo design, e-newsletters, Communication and Dissemination plan, promo material, social media campaign and dissemination events participation).
EENSULATE project aims to develop an affordable (28% reduction of total refurbishment costs) and lightweight (35% weight reduction versus the best performing modules in the market) solution for curtain wall buildings. To achieve these objectives, the project is developing two key insulating products:
• Highly insulating and environmentally friendly spray foam, EENSULATE foam, for the cost-effective automated manufacturing and insulation of the opaque components of curtain walls as well as for the significant reduction of thermal bridges during installation leading to doubling of the thermal resistance of the whole façade
• Lightweight and thin double pane vacuum glass, EENSULATE glass, for the high insulation of the transparent component of curtain walls, manufactured through an innovative low temperature process using polymeric flexible adhesives and distributed getter technology, thus allowing to use both annealed and tempered glass and emissivity coatings. A breakthrough multifunctional thermotunable coating allows for dynamic solar gain control as well as anti-fogging and self-cleaning properties
Based on these materials combinations, the project output is a family of insulating modules and solutions with two different levels of performance:
• EENSULATE Basic curtain wall modules where the thermal and acoustic insulation are provided by the novel EENSULATE glass and EENSULATE foam in the spandrel combined with state of the art low-e silver magneto-sputtered coated glass
• EENSULATE Premium curtain wall modules whereby the novel thermochromic coated glass with additional self-cleaning and anti-fogging functionalities is integrated