First Project Review

EASEE project was launched in March 2012. In the first twelve months, substantial progresses have been made towards achieving its objectives. This period focussed particularly on the research activities needed at this first stage of the project in order to study and evaluate the best technologies to be developed and optimized in the next years. At month 12 (March 2013) the definition of the systemic approach and the new value proposition for the envelope retrofitting have been successfully performed. This allows to identify technical and non technical bottlenecks for the application of new approaches to facade energy efficient retrofitting, defining requirements and user acceptance criteria from different perspectives and points of view (owner's, construction companies, user's, etc) thanks to surveys and research activities.General guidelines for the research activities required to develop the different retrofitting  components (namely the pre-casted panels for the external façade, the new loose fillers for the cavity wall and the innovative insulating solutions for the interiors) were provided, defining each solution technical specifications according to relevant standards and norms and presenting a list of tests to be carried out on the different components to assess their performance in compliance with standards.

Research activities related to the main components for the building envelope retrofitting (outer, inner and cavity) proceeded as foreseen and the identification of the best technological solution for the façade retrofitting has being achieved step by step.

Regarding the outer envelope, two different technological solutions were identified at the beginning of the project:

  • Single layer panel, based on a single formed mats of XPS;

  • Multi layer panel, where an insulating mat is coupled with one or two shells of reinforced mortar.

In the first year of the project these two  technological solutions lab scale prototypes were performed as well as preliminary testing, preliminary LCA evaluation, hygrothermal behavior evaluation and further non technical considerations in order to compare them and assess the best technical solution to be brought forward. In this framework the first project milestone, related to the selection of the best conceptual design prefabricated façade module, has been achieved.

Regarding the cavity wall, the development of a new process for perlite particles hydrophobation has been successfully investigated. Two different reactors prototypes were used for the hydrophobation process on both synthetic and expanded perlite. Within the work performed so far the perlite processed by these technologies confirmed its enhanced hydrophobation characteristics.

Regarding the internal envelope, within the first year of the project, a survey on the inner envelope retrofitting market was performed in order to understand the possible competitors of the technological solutions proposed within the project, with a particular focus on thin and lightweight products. It appeared that although thin solutions were commercially available, scope for innovation remained in the insulating materials themselves, in their price and in the operational and assembly issues of the complete components. Based on this survey and on the targets set at the beginning of the EASEE project, two functional models have been identified:

  • Single layer solutions, where all the functions are concentrated in an insulating and finishing layer;

  • Multi-layer solutions, where performance is determined by a sequence of specialised layers.

In order to implement these strategies, different materials have been evaluated and work has started on both the improvement of perlite to be integrated in insulating render and on the impregnation of textile with aerogel in order to produce a super-insulating layer.

Some preliminary tests showed good potential in the use of these materials for the indoor retrofit solutions. Furthermore some preliminary design activities have also been carried out on these family products:

  • Insulating render with improved components;

  • "Enhanced wallpaper", i.e., a rollable insulating layer to be applied to existing walls;

  • "Prefabricated lining", i.e. rigid composite panels to be applied to existing walls directly or by means of a sub-structure;

to be investigated in the future once the above mentioned materials will be completely characterized.

Moreover, within the first year of the project, activities regarding the development of a methodology for the geometric and thematic surveying in order to support both the Retrofitting Planner and  the Design Tool were developed. In this framework the building representation level of details has been investigated and tested for both the thermal and geometrical data. In order to support the methodological definition validate it through experimental results, several tests have been also performed on two test façades. Particularly, issues such as the import data into Retrofitting Tool and data format have been faced and solved. Preliminary activities have been also performed concerning the pattern definition for the Design Module, able to provide the panels size and position according to the building geometry.

Last but not least, preliminary assessment and activities have been carried out in order to investigate the optimization of prefabricated retrofitting components production process as well as to define anchoring systems and joint design, based on the results achieved so far within the previous activities.