Buildings use 40 % of total EU energy consumption and generate 36% of Green-House Gases in Europe. The European Commission has set specific targets by 2020, known as the 20/20/20 targets, meaning reduction of energy consumption by 20%, CO2 emissions by 20% and providing 20% of the total energy share with renewable energy. In line with this targets, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (Directive 2002/91/EC, EPBD), required all EU countries to enhance their building regulations and to introduce energy certification schemes for buildings. With the recast EPBD in 2010 (Directive 2010/31/EU), EU Member States aim to achieve nearly-zero energy buildings by 2020 (2018 for Public buildings). Provisions of the EPBD have already affected European countries’ building codes with increasingly more stringent legislation. Between 2009 and 2012, the majority of the European countries have released updates of existing regulations for energy efficiency in buildings. These regulations will specify lower U-values for both new builds and renovations, meaning that windows with higher efficiency will be required.
While substantial effort has been made to improve glazing’s performance, frame’s properties need improvement as 30% of heat loss takes places through the frame. U-values below 0.7 W/m2K are required for best energy efficiency in nowadays buildings. Poly vinyl chloride (PVC) frames represent the highest market share (56%) in Europe due to better weather resistance than wood and lower maintenance required and over aluminum due to better insulating properties. The heat loss per area through windows (U-value) is still much greater (around 1.0 W/m2K) than through the building’s walls and roofs. Reduction of window heat loss is essential to reduce the energy use of buildings and their environmental impact as required by the recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), Directive 2010/31/EU.
The solution proposed in THINFRAME includes the development of an insulating foam material made of polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene (PE) filled with a Phase Change Material (PCM). It will be processed in-line with the PVC profiles made by extrusion and will provide ease of adaptation to current production methods of the industries involved, lower heat loss of the windows installed (U-value of the frame lower than 0.7 W/m2K), improved energy efficiency of buildings (savings of energy and CO2 emissions at European level) and cost-effective solution able to compete with PVC systems of lower insulation properties.
From the industrial side, our consortium encompasses the whole supply chain made up of four SME companies: Fapes Srl (Italy), a PVC window manufacturer, Polinter S.A. (Spain) that are devoted to the production of plastic profiles for construction in different applications, Rossi Stamp Srl (Italy), an extrusion tooling and equipment manufacturer and PCM Products Ltd. (UK), a producer of thermal storage materials.