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thermal insulation, heat storage, air conditioning, Poroton, solid construction, brick construction, thermal insulation

Exploiting the heat storage capacity of building materials – a plea from the brick industry

After the extremely hot and dry summer of 2018, especially in the north and east of Germany, there is little doubt that climate change is taking place. The challenge is one that is welcomed by the construction industry, which wants to create improved indoor climate conditions and optimised building envelopes through the use of advanced technologies, and always with the aim of promoting energy efficiency. But to what extent is the use of complex building technology for heating or cooling as well as additional heat insulation sustainable and efficient?

"Energy consumption, primarily for heating, is still the focal point when it comes to increasing the energy efficiency of buildings", says the managing director of the Deutsche Poroton association in advance of BAU. Unfortunately, too little attention is still paid to a fundamental topic, namely "the heat storage capacity of building materials and the associated temperature-regulating effect, which has been shown to make a positive contribution to the overall energy balance of buildings." This should once again become a focus, says Clemens Kuhlemann in his statement.

Less technology, a better building envelope?
"System engineering allows any desired temperature to be generated in a building – whether in summer or winter. Those who rely on it, however, need to bear in mind that the technology is usually very expensive, requires constant maintenance and, according to experts, won't last more than 15 years. Replacing the outdated technology can be very expensive." Clemens Kuhlemann continues: "The amount of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in Germany accounted for by building air-conditioning systems is still relatively low. However, one tenth of the electricity consumed worldwide already is used by air conditioners and fans. The International Energy Agency estimates that this figure will triple by 2050 due to climate change. In the future, will we use more energy to cool rather than heat buildings because we've forgotten how to build properly?"

Summer heat protection and winter heat insulation
When it comes to heat insulation in the winter and cooling in the summer, Clemens Kuhlemann still considers a millennium-old construction method to have contemporary value. "The harder and more compact a material is, the more it absorbs heat energy, stores it and releases it as radiation back into a cooler environment." In other words: "Massive brick buildings dampen the temperature amplitude and cause a phase shift in the temperature profile."

Sustainable buildings due to far-sighted construction methods
Built examples show how contemporary and sustainable this construction principle can be: "The building I always refer to in this connection is the award-winning and much-discussed Office Building 2226 by Baumschlager Eberle Architekten – not only because its enormous thermal storage mass, due to its 76cm-thick double-shell brickwork, means that heating, technical ventilation and air-conditioning can be dispensed with, but also and above all because one of the architects, Prof. Gerd Jäger, plans follow-up projects in Germany, specifically in housing construction. I'm very much looking forward to seeing them realised!"

Finally, Clemens Kuhlemann, whose association represents the two companies Schlagmann Poroton and Wienerberger, sets out his position on sustainability:
"What I want to see is decision-makers in the construction industry once again focusing on building architecturally-appealing, high-quality and durable buildings that, when it comes to energy, are optimised in the most straightforward way possible. A cleverly-planned, sound building envelope will last for 100 years and longer. Anyone who opts for technology will have to renew it at least five times during this time. That's not my idea of a sustainable building."

At BAU, Deutsche Poroton will present an outlook on the future of brick. Once again here, the topic of digitalisation will come to the fore. In addition, the association says it will showcase a sustainability innovation at the fair.

The two members of Deutsche Poroton will also present their products and future-oriented solutions in detail at their own stands. Wienerberger will be in Hall A3, Stand 100, while Schlagmann Poroton will be in Hall A3, Stand 411.

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