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Construction Textiles, both Synthetic and Bio-Based, are Part of Europe's Efforts to Extend Durability

Posted by Chiara Cecchi, Guest Columnist

Mar 28, 2017 12:00:00 AM

The construction industry is chasing breakthrough solutions to insulate buildings and keep living areas free from damp and mold.

Today, one of the new product solutions for the construction industry in Europe is the use of textiles, spurred on by materials from the clothing and footwear industries. Gore-Tex-like membranes, which are usually found in weather-proof jackets and trekking shoes, are now being studied to build breathable, water-resistant walls. DuPont Tyvek is an example of one such synthetic textile familiar to U.S. builders, that is being used as a “raincoat” for our homes.

Camping tents, which have been used for ages to protect against wind, ultra-violet rays and rain, have also inspired the modern construction industry, or “buildtech sector”. This new field of research focuses on the different fibres (animal-based such as wool or silk, plant-based such as linen and cotton and synthetic such as polyester and rayon) as a way to improve the quality of construction, especially for buildings, dams, bridges, tunnels and roads. This is due to the fibres’ mechanical properties, such as lightness, strength, and also resistance to many factors like creep, deterioration by chemicals and pollutants in the air or rain.

“Textiles play an important role in the modernisation of infrastructure and in sustainable buildings”, explains Andrea Bassi, professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (DICA), Politecnico of Milan, “Nylon and fiberglass are mixed with traditional fibres to control thermal and acoustic insulation in walls, façades and roofs. Technological innovation in materials, which includes nanotechnologies combined with traditional textiles used in clothes, enables buildings and other constructions to be designed using textiles containing steel, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE). This gives the materials new antibacterial, antifungal and antimycotic properties in addition to being antistatic, sound-absorbing and water-resistant”. 

Rooflys is another example. In this case, coated black woven textiles are placed under the roof to protect roof insulation from mould. These building textiles have also been tested for fire resistance, nail sealability, water and vapour impermeability, wind and UV resistance.

In Spain three researchers from the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) have developed a new panel made with textile waste. They claim that it can significantly enhance both the thermal and acoustic conditions of buildings, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the energy impact associated with the development of construction materials.

Besides textiles, innovative natural fibre composite materials are a parallel field of the research on insulators that can preserve indoor air quality. These bio-based materials, such as straw and hemp, “can reduce the incidence of mold growth because they breathe. The breathability of materials refers to their ability to absorb and desorb moisture naturally”, says expert Finlay White from Modcell, who contributed to the construction of what they claim are the world’s first commercially available straw houses, “For example, highly insulated buildings with poor ventilation can build-up high levels of moisture in the air. If the moisture meets a cool surface it will condensate and producing mould, unless it is managed. Bio-based materials have the means to absorb moisture so that the risk of condensation is reduced, preventing the potential for mould growth”.

The Bristol-based green technology firm is collaborating with the European Isobio project, which is testing bio-based insulators which perform 20% better than conventional materials. “This would lead to a 5% total energy reduction over the lifecycle of a building”, explains Martin Ansell, from BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials (BRE CICM), University of Bath, UK, another partner of the project.

“Costs would also be reduced. We are evaluating the thermal and hygroscopic properties of a range of plant-derived by-products including hemp, jute, rape and straw fibres plus corn cob residues. Advanced sol-gel coatings are being deposited on these fibres to optimise these properties in order to produce highly insulating and breathable construction materials”, Ansell concludes.

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Green Roofs, Green Buildings

Posted by Matt Lee, Guest Columnist

Jan 3, 2017 12:08:17 PM

Vegetative roof systems are one of the most sustainable options available in commercial roofing today.

Vegetative or green roof systems are being seen on commercial buildings around the world. This innovative system uses actual, living plants, which grow above a waterproofing membrane on top of a commercial building where a roof would normally be found. In addition to being beautiful and to increasing the aesthetics of the building itself, vegetative roof system have a number of benefits, all of which add up to one, very attractive roofing option.

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4 Advantages of Metal Roofing

Posted by Paul Kazlov, Guest Contributor

Jul 9, 2015 7:20:00 AM

Metal roofing, says this advocate, has major "eco advantages" over other types of roofing.

Whether it’s time to replace your existing roof or you’re thinking about upgrading your home in the future, chances are you haven’t heard all that much about metal roofing. Although wood and asphalt shingles are the most popular materials out there, they pale in comparison to the benefits a metal roof can provide. Unmatched in longevity, durability, and cost-effectiveness, metal roofing is also gaining popularity for its myriad eco-friendly benefits as well. Below, we’ve listed the four biggest advantages to installing a metal roof, and why this is one upgrade you seriously need to consider during your next home renovation.

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Make Your Roof More Energy Efficient

Posted by RESNET

Jun 10, 2015 11:37:48 AM

If you’re thinking about making energy efficient improvements to your home, one major area to consider is your roof. Believe it or not, “greening” your roof can help lower your energy bills considerably and make your home much more comfortable to live in. Here are three things to keep in mind when making your roof energy efficient.

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Is Metal Roofing Superior to Other Roof Materials?

Posted by Conway Kang, Guest Contributor

Feb 3, 2015 6:59:00 AM

Yes and No. Metal has an excellent track record, and great recyclability, but it's not the only durability play.

In the U.S., if you want to find out the real scoop on a building product, you often have to look outside the industry, which is notoriously weak on self-assessment and R&D. But homeowner insurance companies know where the biggest risks are in homes. So they look long and hard at roofs.

Example, here's State Farm insurance on metal roofs:

Advantages of Metal Roofs

  • Longevity. Metal roofs can last 40 to 70 years, depending on the material. Traditional asphalt roofing materials have an estimated life expectancy of roughly 12 to 20 years.
  • Durability. Some metal roofs can sustain wind gusts up to 140 miles per hour, will not corrode or crack, and may be impact-resistant (depending on which metal you choose). In addition, metal roofs don't need the periodic costly maintenance that other roofing materials often require. However, they should be inspected periodically to make sure no repairs are required.
  • Safety. Metal roofs will not spark and ignite into flames during a wildfire or lightning strike.
  • Energy efficiency. Metal roofs reflect solar radiant heat, which can reduce cooling costs by 10% to 25%.
  • Environmentally friendly. Metal roofs not only have 25% to 95% recycled content, depending on the material used, but are also 100% recyclable at the end of their life as a roof. In contrast, most shingle tear-off waste ends up as part of the building-related waste stream – up to 20 billion pounds per year.
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How to Plan an Energy Efficient Home Renovation

Posted by RESNET

Jan 21, 2015 10:30:44 AM

If you’re going to renovate your home this year, consider taking the energy efficient route. Start by contacting a RESNET Home Energy Auditor or Rater for an energy audit or rating to determine where and how your home is losing energy. If you opt for an energy rating, compare your home’s before and after HERS Index scores to see the difference that energy-saving measures can make.

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Roofing

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Dec 30, 2014 1:51:15 PM

KNOW THE LINGO

Deck: The substrate over which roofing is applied—usually plywood, wood boards or planks.

Drip Edge: An installed lip that keeps shingles up off the deck at edges and extends shingles out over eaves and gutters to prevent water from wicking up and under the shingles.

Exposure: The area on any roofing material that is left exposed to the elements.

Flashing: Materials used to waterproof a roof around any projections.

Granules: Crushed rock that is coated with a ceramic coating and fired, used as top surface on shingles.

Ice Dam: Formed when snow melts on a roof and re-freezes at the eave areas. Ice dams force water to “back up” under shingles and cause leakage.

Laminated Shingles: Asphalt-based shingles made from two separate pieces that are laminated together. Also called dimensional shingles or architectural shingles.

Soffit Ventilation: Intake ventilation installed under
the eaves or at the roof edge.

Steep-Slope Roofing: Refers to slopes steeper than a 4” rise for every 12” of length (expressed as 4:12).

Tear-Off: Removal of existing roofing materials down to the roof deck.

Valleys: Areas where two adjoining sloped roof planes intersect on a roof, creating a “V”-shaped depression.

Source: GAF Materials Corp.

It wasn’t long ago that roofing wasn’t much more than an afterthought—chosen for a house mostly for economic and occasionally for aesthetic reasons, if you could afford it.

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Flat Roofs Earn Their Keep

Posted by Dan McCue

Dec 30, 2014 1:23:00 PM

 

WHEN PAUL LEDMAN PAUSED TO CONSIDER THE ROOFING OPTIONS of the new, multi-family home he was building in historic Portland, Maine, the ultimate choice seemed like a no-brainer.

To the former New Yorker, who has developed several multi-family brownstone and commercial projects, a pitched roof would have just seemed odd for the three-unit home he was contemplating.

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Proper Installation of APA Rated Sheathing for Roof Applications

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Dec 11, 2014 11:41:28 AM

Check out this informative entry on sheathing for roof applications available on the APA builders' tips page. Downloadable pdfs on this and other subjects are available.

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Retrofitting Rooftops: The Overcoat Method

Posted by GBM Research

Aug 22, 2014 4:19:00 PM

NORTHERNSTAR BUILDING AMERICA Partnership has been investigating the use of an external insulation retrofit approach for existing houses under the “Project Overcoat” label. The overall design intent is to put thermal, air and moisture control layers over the exterior of an existing building, including the foundation, wall and rooftops. The approach uses a peel-and-stick membrane for an air barrier and layers of rigid foam for a thermal barrier to provide exceptional thermal and air barrier alignment and continuity in older homes with simple geometries. NorthernSTAR found the approach worked well for roof retrofits in 1-1/2-story homes, which are difficult to insulate under the roof due to lack of space, and often have serious air leakage problems that can lead to ice dams.

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White Roofs' Cooling Power Quantified

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Apr 9, 2014 12:24:00 PM

One of the best tools for combating climate change is right over our heads.

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Roofing with Polymers

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Mar 15, 2014 9:56:00 AM

The problem with plastics is that they don’t go away. Eventually, they break apart, but only into smaller pieces—not into their basic components. At a certain point, they become prone to absorbing nasty chemicals such as DDT. The particles ultimately find their way into the oceans, where fish eat them, mistaking them for plankton. Result: Ecosystems are poisoned from the bottom up.

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Roofs Should Balance Environmental Concerns and Practical Risks

Posted by Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley

Mar 10, 2014 11:02:00 AM

When builders raise the roof these days, they choose from many more options than just 20 years ago.

Formerly, they selected among unsustainable, impact-resistant asphalt tiles, wood shake roofs vulnerable to fires, and energy intensive tile roofs. Now, however, they have the ability to choose sustainability and durability—all at the same time.

Practical building weighs both green responsibility and risk. Just as some extremely durable roofing materials aren't eco-friendly, some "eco-roofs" present impractical risk. Risk matters, both to the buyer and to his or her home insurance provider. Premiums are based in large part on the amount of risk posed by a home. The roof is one of the key components—wind and hail damage, usually to roofs, is the most common home insurance claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).

That's why, when searching for green building solutions for a client, you should focus on impact-resistant roofing materials with a UL 2218 class 3 or 4. They'll provide durability for the house while fulfilling your environmental responsibility.  

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