Building sustainability from the ground up

Residential and commercial buildings account for a large portion of energy consumption. In Europe and the US around forty percent is used up in heating, lighting and air conditioning, through inefficient design and outdated construction. With a pledge to cut twenty percent of EU energy consumption by the year 2020, technological improvements to residential and commercial buildings could contribute to an overall reduction in EU energy consumption and CO2  emissions by approximately five percent.

The Italian-Australian collaborative project, Easy House, recently addressed the myriad advantages on offer from nanotechnology in the design and construction of highly performing ‘green buildings’. Of particular interest was the integration of aerogels, phase change materials (PCMs), chromogenic devices, semitransparent photovoltaic glasses and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), with the clearest benefits displayed by PCMs and chromogenic devices.

In our session on nanotechnology and advanced materials in buildings and the construction industry, ENF2017 will show how greener building materials and processes can make the sector more sustainable to improve its impact on the climate. Key scientists and figures from the industry are joining us in Malta to discuss the diverse range of innovative solutions available to the energy challenge, demonstrating advances in construction design that facilitate both sustainability and comfort of living.

Dr Antonio Porro Gutierrez is director of business development at Tecnalia’s Building Division and CTO of the Sustainable Construction Division. Tecnalia is active in a range of R&D areas from the development of innovative and sustainable construction products to the investigation and remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater.

Head of technology at KONE Corporation’s Major Projects, Santeri Suoranta  presents the revolutionary KONE UltraRope, the lightweight composite technology which enables elevators for high-rise buildings and brings major benefits compared to traditional steel ropes in energy-efficiency, reliability and lifetime. The drop in rope weight means a dramatic reduction in elevator moving masses – the weight of everything that moves when an elevator travels up or down, including the hoisting ropes, compensating ropes, counterweight, elevator car, and passenger load. The benefits of KONE UltraRope increase exponentially as the travel distance grows.

Michele Andolfo is a scientist at Selena Labs in Spain where he is project leader and inventor of the Eensulate foam concept. Eensulate develops lightweight and highly insulating components and materials for the retrofitting and new construction of curtain wall facades. It expects to reduce total costs by twenty eight percent and weight by thirty five percent, bringing old curtain wall buildings down to almost zero energy standards.

Last, but not least, Professor Dieter Meissner is the founder and CTO at Crystalsol, specialists in flexible photovoltaic technology that can be tailor made in shape and size for integration into windows, rooftops and facades. At thirty to fifty percent lower cost than the current industry average, the electricity generated by Crystalsol’s photovoltaics is competitive with conventional energy sources.

These are only a select few examples of the solutions offered by nanotechnology and advanced materials for the residential and commercial building industry. Find out more about sustainability in EU construction at ENF2017 session seven, ‘nanotechnology in buildings and construction industry’ in Malta this June.