External thermal insulation of buildings – energy saving

Energy saving in buildings is an opportunity for Greece as it is for Europe. The estimated benefits from energy saving are massive either it concerns new buildings or existing ones that are upgraded in terms of energy. The most widely used and effective way to minimize thermal losses, is the proper thermal insulation of the building through the application of an external thermal insulation system.


External Thermal Insulation Composite Systems-advantages


The minimized costs for heating and cooling soon recoup the investment of a building’s thermal insulation. There are only benefits for the user and the environment through the energy efficiency of the buildings.

So, it is an opportunity supported by the energy policy of the European Union as modern buildings will be subject to stricter regulations and they will be designed to minimize the primary energy required (Nearly Zero Energy Buildings – nZEB).

As indicated in the following graph, to achieve the European goal so that all buildings across Europe belong to the A class energy efficiency by 2050, there is a long way as only 3% of the buildings comply with this condition.

The External Thermal Insulation Composite Systems (ETICS) used to improve energy efficiency will play a leading role in this energy policy.


nZEB classes-categories

Image source: Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE)


It must be noted here that in case of Greece, the buildings have a series of problems as far as the outer shell thermal protection. There may be an absence of thermal insulation (built before the thermal insulation regulation of 1979) or they may be insufficiently thermally insulated. This is followed by the particularity of their morphology and typology with many openings, large balconies, pilotis etc. that contribute to the creation of thermal bridging, leading to negative consequences to the buildings’ energy behavior.

The ETICS provide a considerable solution and it is usually selected for continuous use in buildings such as residences and hospitals where a stable temperature must be maintained throughout the whole day even when the heating or cooling systems cease to operate.

In the following graph we see the percentage distribution of Energy Efficiency Certificates (EEC) per energy category and decade of the building construction in Greece.



Image source: Ministry of Environment and Energy


It is worth mentioning that even though the external thermal insulation is used in recent years in Greece, it is widely known and applied in most European countries such as Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland etc. In these countries, the ETICS are used for more than 50 years in the constructions industry and it is proven that they operate and perform perfectly. In fact, in Germany, thermally insulated facades undergo regular official evaluations. Recent studies and reports indicate that even after 30 years, the evaluated thermal insulation facades do not exhibit any signs of failure. In addition, the ETICS life cycle seems to be greater than expected. If the system is carefully applied and if it receives regular evaluations and maintenance, the life expectancy is significantly greater.

More than 2,000,000,000 m2 of External Thermal Insulation Systems have been already installed throughout Europe, supporting their viable development.

To summarize, we could say that ETICS not only offer huge possibilities in terms of energy cost but also offer the possibility to design thermal insulation facades with a large lifespan. To conclude, they contribute to the reduction of thousands of tons of air pollutants emissions in the environment every year as they lead to significant reduction of fuel consumption for heating or cooling.