Solar passive technologies promise energy efficient building façades

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

The researchers are developing two new retrofitting units for energy absorption and ventilation which are currently being tested in a social residential building in Mérida, in Extremadura, Spain.

“Our first goal is to make residents optimally comfortable. And they will also have the advantage of reduced energy bills," explained Isabel Lacave, architect at the eco-efficiency group of Technological Centre of ACCIONA Infrastructure, based in Madrid, who designed and produced the energy absorption unit.

“We will install an algorithm control which will monitor through sensors both the inside, the outside and the air ventilation unit, to switch the units on or off at the hours when it is required and in the best conditions according to  the weather,” explained Julen Astudillo, the architect at the technological division of Tecnalia, responsible for the design and development of the unit.

“Solar passive technologies greatly contribute to reduce the thermal demands due to two effects: on one hand they have an insulating effect; on the other hand, they create favourable thermal layers close to the building envelope. For example, air circulation in ventilated solar façades or cooler air layers due to evaporation in green façade modules,” said Herena Torio, a renewable energies engineer, researcher at the Institute of Physics, at the University of Oldenburg in Germany.  "Particularly, this second effect might also contribute to improve the comfort conditions for the user inside the building, influencing thereby not only their energy bills but also their wellbeing”.

Despite the advantages, some resident concerns remain. Indeed, there may be an aesthetic impact.  “We are trying hard to design according to the best aesthetic requirements. But this is an acute transformation. So residents need to be informed right from the start about what they can expect to see in front of their apartments,” explained Lacave.  Residents have been informed by the Government of Extremadura about all of the advantages of reduced energy costs. And assured they will not be disturbed by the retrofitting.

There are some other added advantages to the technology. Adding to comfort, the ventilation system can be personalised for each resident. Astudillo explained:  “The system will choose the best option at any time. But residents will be able to change the mode to disconnect it. And simply open the window, if they want to get some light or fresh air.”  

With a real map of these needs in their hands, Astudillo’s team will be able to decide in which parts of the building to install each sensor.

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