Plastics for a cool and cosy home

Plastics for a cool and cosy home
According to PlasticsEurope by 2020, the European Commission aims to have all new buildings designed to achieve a zero energy consumption level. While this is a very good start, it will not be sufficient as existing buildings also need to be considered in order to reach the targets set by the EU on energy savings and GHGs emissions.

Plastics can contribute in achieving both objectives by making a substantial difference not only in new buildings but equally in the refurbishment of old ones to help drastically reduce their energy consumption by the following:

• Thermal insulation. Over its lifetime plastics building insulation delivers energy savings of 150 times the energy needed for its production. Only 70 litres of oil are needed to produce one cubic metre of plastic for roof insulation. Yet this one cubic metre will save approximately 5,500 litres of heating oil in just 50 years, while sparing the atmosphere some 19,000 kg of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Apart from its energy-saving properties, insulation also promotes comfort and health – by improving noise insulation, for example.
Insulation is often associated with reducing the heating bill but is equally important in summer and in warmer countries where it reduces the energy consumption by eliminating or reducing the need for air conditioning.

• Heating and cooling systems. These systems allow sophisticated regulation of the temperature inside a building, reducing energy consumption and emissions. There are many different types of systems, such as controlled ventilation systems with thermal recovery, or a thermal radiation system that can be integrated into the windows. Even under extremely cold weather conditions inhabitants still enjoy cosy warmth. These systems achieve a comfortable interior temperature faster and with less energy than conventional heating systems. These sorts of system mean that radiators are no longer necessary for heating.

• The combination of these measures with additional methods such as triple-glazed windows enable fuel consumption and CO2 emissions to be reduced by up to 80% compared to a building that does not use these techniques.