Energy in buildings: Efficiency, renewables and storage
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Empa Ueberlandstrasse 129, CH-8600, Duebendorf, Switzerland
Published online: 24 July 2017
This lecture summary provides a short but comprehensive overview on the “energy and buildings” topic. Buildings account for roughly 40% of the global energy demands. Thus, an increased adoption of existing and upcoming materials and solutions for the building sector represents an enormous potential to reduce building related energy demands and greenhouse gas emissions. The central question is how the building envelope (insulation, fenestration, construction style, solar control) affects building energy demands. Compared to conventional insulation materials, superinsulation materials such as vacuum insulation panels and silica aerogel achieve the same thermal performance with significantly thinner insulation layers. With low-emissivity coatings and appropriate filler gasses, double and triple glazing reduce thermal losses by up to an order of magnitude compared to old single pane windows, while vacuum insulation and aerogel filled glazing could reduce these even further. Electrochromic and other switchable glazing solutions maximize solar gains during wintertime and minimize illumination demands whilst avoiding overheating in summer. Upon integration of renewable energy systems into the building energy supply, buildings can become both producers and consumers of energy. Combined with dynamic user behavior, temporal variations in the production of renewable energy require appropriate storage solutions, both thermal and electrical, and the integration of buildings into smart grids and energy district networks. The combination of these measures allows a reduction of the existing building stock by roughly a factor of three —a promising, but cost intensive way, to prepare our buildings for the energy turnaround.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences - SIF, 2017
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