Convert facades into energy gaining components

Renewable energies are most frequently used in single-family houses, in applications such as solar domestic water heaters or photovoltaic modules for electricity generation.  New production supports with larger areas have to be found to significantly improve the use of renewable energies.  It has been found that roof surfaces of high-rise buildings are not large enough to support renewable energy production equipment, while energy needs are very high.  Facades are obviously the only possible alternative to support this equipment and thus reduce the energy consumption of these buildings.

The objective of the European Cost-Effective project is to design and then develop new multi-function facade components integrating renewable energies, for use in refurbished high-rise buildings.  For example, a transparent film could be imagined that would act as a solar collector to generate heat, and also provide natural lighting while becoming opaque for glare protection.  These new components are largely inspired from nano-structured envelope products and films, and are aimed at improving their performances and durability due to seasonal shading, antireflective and anti-soiling functionality.

A support for technological platforms

The Cost-Effective project was started in October 2008 and is expected to last for four years.  It is one of the largest projects ever financed by the European Commission with a total budget of 11 M€.  It brings together 26 partners, more than half of which are manufacturers who have shown an interest in the stated objectives.  France is represented in this project by EDF and CSTB.  The CSTB's “Renewable energies” group is responsible particularly for assessing some components developed for this project in its Sophia-Antipolis semi-virtual laboratory.  It will also coordinate project dissemination actions.

The results of the project will provide important support for the European ECTP (for which CSTB provides secretarial services), ESTTP and PhotoVoltaic technological platforms, in which the project partners play an important role.

Virtual photo of a transparent solar thermal façade collector integrated into the facade (Patent filed 2006), © Fraunhofer ISE.