Main content area

Environmental assessment of façade-building systems and thermal insulation materials for different climatic conditions

Sierra-Pérez, Jorge, Boschmonart-Rives, Jesús, Gabarrell, Xavier
Journal of cleaner production 2016 v.113 pp. 102-113
European Union, buildings, climatic factors, climatic zones, construction materials, decision making, embodied energy, energy efficiency, environmental assessment, environmental impact, insulating materials, issues and policy, polystyrenes, social impact, wool, Spain
In the European Union, the building sector accounts for more than 40% of the total energy consumption and environmental impacts, representing the area with the greatest potential for intervention. In addition to the existing policies that promote energy efficiency in buildings, the embodied energy and the environmental impacts contained in the building materials should be considered. In the case of the construction of insulation façade systems, the environmental implications are different depending on the type of façade system, the insulation materials used and the location of the building. This article aims to provide all of this information for Spain, including not only the production of the components of the façade system but also the installation phase and the transport to the building site. The results show that the most impactful alternative is the ventilated façade combined with the most impactful insulation materials of stone wool and expanded polystyrene. Meanwhile, the most advisable façade in all of the climate zones is the external thermal insulation system combined with any type of insulation. The environmental impacts of insulation materials are very different. Moreover, it is recommended that further studies complete these results with the economic and social implications of the use and maintenance phases for robust decision-making.