Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Switzerland - Applied Research on Vacuum Insulation, Passive Houses etc.

January 21, 2003 - 12:00pm
Bldg. 90

The Institute of Energy at the University of Applied Sciences of Basel is part of the Building Department and focuses on energy efficiency and ecology in buildings. Examples of the institute's work of the past three years are:Could it be better to replace buildings instead of renovate them, from an ecological point of view? An assessment on the basis of energy use and mass flow calculations.MINERGIE and MINERGIE P, Development of a Swiss label for passive houses (not passive solar houses!)Inexpensive insulation technologies for rural buildings in Kyrgisztan, a technical cooperation project.Basel as pilot area of the 2000 Watt society. Project management to link academic sustainability research to real urban development.Vacuum insulation for the building sector - Application and system development.After a short overview of the above projects and on energy and buildings research in Switzerland, the presentation will focus on the vacuum insulation project.Vacuum Insulation Panels (VIP) have been used in refrigerators for quite a while; however, VIP manufacturers have started to show interest in entering the building construction market. The thermal resistance of VIP exceeds normal insulation material by a factor of eight to ten, so VIP have an enormous energy savings potential in new low energy buildings. The common insulation layers of 30 and more centimeters (in the Swiss climate) could be replaced by VIP of 4 cm. It has en even greater potential in building renovation, where room is especially scarce. The requirements for using vacuum insulation products in buildings differ from in appliances. First, there is a lifetime expectancy of 40 to 50 years, extending far beyond any warranty deadlines and even beyond the time one would expect building owners and managers to retain the information about the existance of VIP in a building's construction. To make the use of VIP in buildings a success story, it is necessary to develop adequate systems and products where VIP can be properly integrated and to determine the necessary quality requirements of the VIP itself, i.e. testing procedures and standards.Armin Binz has graduated as an architect from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). He ran a consulting firm for applied building physics for many years and turned his lecturership into a full professorship six years ago. He is head of the Institute of Energy at the University of Applied Sciences of Basel, which is charged with applied research and a postgraduate interdisciplinary course on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

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