ECO-SEE – Improving the indoor environment of energy efficient buildings

The ECO-SEE project will create natural eco-materials for healthier indoor environments through hygrothermal regulation and the removal of airborne contaminants through both chemical capture and photocatalysis.

Energy efficient buildings

The European 20/20/20 targets aim to reach a 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, raise the share of EU energy consumption produced by renewables resources to 20% and achieve a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020. This requires European business sectors, including the construction industry, to change current practices and transition towards a more sustainable model.

In parallel, there are increased calls for energy efficiency in buildings across Europe, requirements for new buildings to be nearly zero carbon, and the development of renovation strategies in relation to the implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EBPD) at national level. These initiatives are leading to more and more buildings across the EU not only becoming more energy efficient, but also more airtight

Improving indoor environments

The ECO-SEE project aims to address an emerging health problem associated with modern low carbon buildings. Airtight, sealed environments have created unexpected side effects, with research showing that a build-up of potentially harmful chemicals in the air is causing negative impacts on occupants.

The ECO-SEE project studies the use of innovative eco-building materials that will address poor air quality, while also radically improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

Through the project the researchers will develop highly insulated wall panels treated using novel chemical processes to enhance the capacity of building materials to capture Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). The team will also develop highly novel photocatalytic coatings using nanoparticle technology, which will decompose harmful chemicals when exposed to sunlight, preventing them from being released into the air.

The objective of the project is to deliver products with at least 15% lower embodied energy than traditional construction materials, with at least a 20% longer expected lifespan, and for at least 20% lower build costs. By making better products at a lower price, the research group can create a cost effective solution with the potential for real market impact.

Research and Demonstration

The ECO-SEE project will work towards its objectives by ensuring that research activities as well as the proof of concept testing, demonstration and evaluation of the ECO-SEE wall panels in large-scale test cells, field trials and pilot building projects is conducted methodologically over the course of the four years.

The first step will be the characterisation of the materials that are to be used in order to achieve VOC capture, hygrothermal and moisture buffering and the physical and chemical analysis of these materials. Based on these results the photocatalytic coatings and the novel materials will be developed, exploring different types of bio-based products such as wood based panels as well as lime and clay materials. Following that step a holistic Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) model will be built which will lead to the prototype product development. 

During the demonstration step, there will be field test validations which will be conducted in two of the partner countries (Spain and UK), along with the testing of the materials in pilot projects. 

LCA and LCC will be utilised all along the project, ensuring that all project results reflect Life Cycle principle. 

In addition, the project will dedicate considerable effort, from the very beginning of the project for the dissemination and commercial exploitation of the project results, with annual workshops though which business models will be explored and business plans developed.

To find out more about the ECO-SEE project, contact Sarine Barsoumian or visit the ECO-SEE website.