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A new era of construction

  • 4-19-2012

A new era of construction

Since the world exists home-building is an instinctive need of people. Houses form villages, then cities until such megacities are built, where more than 10 million people live, using a lot of energy. Solutions of building have to catch up with the latest demands.

Passive houses

The reduction of dwelling's energy needs is not only the interest of our wallet. One of the key reasons of the cities' air pollution is the emission of harmful substances due to the energy consumption of people living there. That's why passive houses, consuming hardly any energy, flourish. These buildings are constructed by using such technologies and environmentally friendly materials which help saving considerable amount of energy, and in this way they decrease environmental pollution as well.

Energy saving can be mostly reached by reducing or even completely eliminating the heating, to which modern insulating materials are essential. For example the NEOPOR insulating foam is like this. It was invented by BASF, which develops innovative materials for the building industry. It is composed of polystyrene, to which graphite particles are mixed and foamed. The silvery grey graphite reflects the heat and significantly improves insulating ability. Several insulating materials are produced for different purposes from this unique foamed plastic, such as panels of facedes, which may exceed the efficiency of usual insulation’s by 20%. In addition NEOPOR insulating materials are eco-friendly, since they don’t contain halogenated hydrocarbons or other halogenated cell gases.

Since in houses most of the heat escapes through the windows, their insulation ability is also important. Energy efficient, triple-glazed window systems combined with special synthetic materials are extremely effective. And what if the window is covered with a pigmented foil, which is developed by BASF? Well, heat retention can be increased with another 20%.

Besides heat insulation, the method of using heat plays also an important role in passive houses. For example, the heat of the soil as well as the solar energy is often used in heating systems. The efficiency of solar cells has also improved considerably, since nowadays they are also covered with insulating materials in order to retain more heat.

With all of these technologies passive houses are able to provide warm rooms in winter and cool rooms in summer without using any conventional heating system or air conditional equipment.

Let’s store daytime heat!

Everyone is on the run from the daytime heat in summer, although some heat would often be good during the night after the Sun goes down. The BASF has found the solution for this as well; they developed a special gypsum wallboard system, which includes a Phase Change Material named Micronal® PCM, which efficiently absorbs and encloses daytime heat in order to use it later on.

Actually the covering works as a heat storing substance; due to phase transition of micro-encapsulated paraffin, it absorbs and releases energy. The material starts to melt between 23-26 ºC. During phase transition it extracts considerable amount of heat from its environment preventing rooms from the heating up. At night when the outside temperature starts to decrease, the paraffin re-crystallizes and gives the heat energy back to its environment.

The design is also important

There is nothing more depressing when a basically nice house is covered with dirt, its walls are discoloured and you can hardly see through the windows. Many facades are hard to be cleaned which causes deposition of dust on walls during the years. But what if we could avoid the deposition of dust and dirt on walls? The answer is the tried and tested method of nanotechnology, a protective coating, which prevents walls from particles sticking onto it. The idea was realized by the BASF as a distemper named COL.9. This special coating is the result of a 10-year-long research. The COL.9 combines the benefits of the most commonly used silicone and dispersion coatings without any disadvantages.

The surface has hydrophilic characteristics, which means that it attracts water. It has two advantages: in heavy rain water drops spread immediately on the surface and washes away any dirt from the facade, but after the rain has stopped, the thin water film evaporates very quickly preventing the surface from being covered with mould and algae.

Watch how the self-cleaning coating works:

Interesting facts

The construction of the world's largest eco-city, the Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, will be finished in 2016. The ecological footprint of the special city will be very small; it will consume quarter of the energy and water than a settlement similar in size. Instead of using air-conditioners the desert heat will be reduced with polystyrene and polyurethane insulating foams and phase change materials integrated into plasters and plasterboards, saving a lot of energy. Much of the energy needs will be covered from solar collectors which will span over the city like a screen.

Did you know?

Not only the building can be energy saving and actually waste free but the construction itself too. For example using special additives, carbon dioxide emission during cement production can be reduced with 60%

Watch our video about “green constructions”