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Innovative pre-fabricated components including different waste construction materials reducing building energy and minimising environmental impacts

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - InnoWEE (Innovative pre-fabricated components including different waste construction materials reducing building energy and minimising environmental impacts)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2020-09-30

The project InnoWEE “Innovative prefabricated components including different construction and demolition Waste materials reducing building Energy consumption and minimizing Environmental impacts” developed innovative high-performance prefabricated panels for the improvement of thermal efficiency of buildings. These eco-friendly products were designed for low environmental impact, low embodied energy, low CO2 emissions and high thermal performance. Based on sustainable geopolymer binders embedding high amounts of Construction & Demolition Waste (CDW) aggregates, they provided two solutions for the building envelope (ETICS-like (Fig. 1a,b,c) and ventilated façade panels (Fig. 2a,b)), one hydronic radiant system (Fig.3a,b) for indoor heating/cooling and a geopolymer-bonded wood particleboard panel (WGP) (Fig. 4).
Solutions were assessed for energy efficiency, environmental sustainability, cost-effectiveness in manufacturing and installation, market potential and exploitability. Affordability is ensured by low formulation costs, thanks to the use of recycled waste materials, by feasible manufacturing processes, and by easy and fast installation/removal practices. On the basis of Life-Cycle Analyses (LCA), the raw materials used and the associated production technologies will contribute to reduce embodied energy and CO2 emission during manufacturing. Stakeholders/end users/SMEs participating in the project guarantee a local introduction in European and other worldwide markets.
A large-scale industrial production and assembly method was designed, including important information about the costs.
The Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO) was calculated, considering production, assembly, installation and maintenance, among others. Detailed Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA), market analysis and business plan were elaborated. The Life Cycle Thinking analysis (LCT) showed that InnoWEE products have a real potential for success with positive judgement.
Suitable CDW types, were selected, investigated and assessed to obtain Secondary Raw Materials (SRM) for geopolymer formulations. A cost analysis of SRM was carried out, and the methodology LCA was established according to current standards. Based on global cost analysis, different LCC scenarios were proposed.
Properties of high-density geopolymer (HDG) binders with 50% by weight of inorganic CDW were investigated and optimized to achieve a formulation that yielded satisfactory prototypes and met requirements of an industrial-like pilot production. An innovative manufacturing process for geopolymer-bonded wood particleboards (WGP) was developed to obtain components with up to 40-50% of wood. A geopolymer adhesive to bond WGP to HDG was formulated. The performance of geopolymer binders and panels was investigated in terms of mechanical/physical properties, thermal output and durability, with a preliminary appraisal of the potential of HDG as recycled aggregate.
For a sound upscaling strategy and with the support of specific tests and simulations, the design of panels was accomplished by considering: industrial feasibility; characteristics of demo buildings; geometric features; fastening systems and installation methods; aesthetics (joints, surface colour and texture, etc. Items for demo sites, with surface properties enhanced by a multifunctional coating, were manufactured and tested, while the best solutions for easy installation and dismounting were identified. The promising results set the basis for their future industrialization/commercialization.
InnoWEE solutions were installed in 4 real sites, a pilot in Padua (Italy), Bucharest (Romania), Athens (Greece), and Putte (Belgium), covering different climatic zones. A monitoring in all sites was carried, before and after the installation to assess: indoor micro-climatic conditions; thermo-hygrometric comfort; thermal consumption of heating systems; thermal transmittance.
Modelling of 4 virtual demo sites, Piazzola sul Brenta (Italy), Paros (Greece), Bucharest (Romania), Bilbao (Spain), and validation of the real demo sites, were performed completing a European scenario. Simulations showed the beneficial impact of InnoWEE solutions on the energy demand of buildings.
The LCCA, mainly affected by production line and labour cost, demonstrated that costs can be competitive to similar commercial products. Compared to the pilot plant production, a cost reduction of 53–65% is expected at the industrial scale. The LCT considered aesthetics, promotion of selective demolition process, LCA and deconstruction. Social impacts of the new products (S-LCT) revealed strengths and opportunities for the improvement of production process and stakeholder’s involvement.
The TCO (Total Cost of Ownership of the product), compared to similar available solutions, demonstrated a sensible cost reduction.
An exhaustive exploitation and final business plans with risk assessment were elaborated, identifying 10 Key Exploitable Results (KER).
Numerous communication and dissemination actions were undertaken: logo; website; leaflet and brochures – general and technical – in 8 languages; newsletters; Social Media; videos; congresses, conferences and workshops; fairs; scientific publications and press releases. Joint activities with the cluster of projects focused on geopolymers and CDW were done.
The project fully reached its expected results and potential impacts. The promised levels of recycled CDW was achieved: the amount of inorganic CDW in high-density geopolymers (HDG) reached 50% by weight, being 40–50% envisaged in the DoA, while the amount of organic CDW in WGP was 50% for indoor applications and 40% for external to meet strength, durability and fire reaction requirements.
LCA demonstrated important benefits of products. The impact was assessed through GWP embodied and non-renewable energy. In ETICS-like and Radiant panels the HDG baseline values are 7.47 kgCO2eq/m² and 127.6 MJ/m². A comparison with 20mm of plaster shows reductions of 46% in GWP and 15% in embodied energy. All the comparisons revealed a reduction in embodied energy.
Panels installed in demo sites increased the performance of the building, reducing the energy request in accordance with EU targets of reduction of energy consumption and CO2 production.
InnoWEE solutions can also be cost-competitive, compared to available products. The estimated TCO demonstrated a sensible reduction against possible competitors on the market.
One of the InnoWEE impacts is also the promotion of LCA and selective demolition processes, as well as design for deconstruction.
An exhaustive business plan and exploitation plans for different European markets were elaborated, showing that positive cash flows can be generated in the 2nd year on the market. LCT was scrutinized and results organized in consideration of aesthetics, promotion of selective demolition processes and LCA analysis, as well as design for deconstruction. The considered social aspects revealed strengths and opportunities for improvement of production processes and involved stakeholders.
Dissemination activities contributed to raise awareness for better energy efficient solutions and a more widespread recycling of CDW, with the aim of increasing the compliance of the construction sector with green and circular economy concepts.